Batman: Death in the Family is the latest animated feature from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment and DC, and their first interactive short movie. In anticipation of its release, STARBURST had to pleasure of speaking with Vincent Martella, best known for his roles in Everybody Hates Chris and Phineas and Ferb, who returned as Jason Todd after first voicing him in Batman: Under the Red Hood alongside Jensen Ackles, ten years ago.
STARBURST: We wanted to start by asking, how did it feel to return to the role of Jason Todd after so many years?
Vincent Martella: You know, I was very surprised to get the call that I'd be able to play him again, given everything that happens in Under the Red Hood. I was really excited and, to be quite frank, I didn’t have the most work to do in Under the Red Hood. I had a couple of scenes. And so getting an opportunity to really flesh this character out and really explore who he is, I was super excited to get the chance to do that. It’s what every actor likes to do, to really dig deep into a character.
What else excited you about this film, and about its interactive format in particular?
Well, what was interesting was that when I was first approached about it, I didn't know that it was interactive. Once they sent the scripts, they started telling me that there’d be different options and that they’d explain it all when I got to the studio. Brandon Vietti [writer-director] and Wes Gleason [casting director] really helped me understand it, and they laid out an actual diagram of what each choice means and where it sends the character, and what that means for Jason Todd’s life, whether it adds trauma or takes things away from him, or… It was a learning process, but I was even more excited to do it once I knew the entire scope of the project.
From an audience perspective, what would you say the interactive element adds to the story and people’s understanding of Jason Todd?
I’m not going to say what some of the choices are, but they are big choices. So just having the power and the ability to do that and think, “Okay, this is about to take Jason's life in a completely new direction,” that is something unusual and new to DC animation. And some of these choices give you a lot more footage, while others can wrap things up more quickly. So, I encourage people to explore a lot of the different options that they give you because there’s a lot of story there.
And of course, Jason Todd’s death is an arc that has remained a really important one to the Batman canon. Why was it a good one to revisit?
I mean, it’s something that Brandon discussed. He felt so attached to this storyline and felt like there was more of the story to tell. And I think when you have a character like Jason Todd where the fans are so invested in them, it’s generally beneficial for them to learn more about them. It just seemed like the right time to dive back into this character.
As you well know, there was a vote in 1988 and fans decided to kill Jason Todd. Do you think people would make the same choice now?
What’s interesting is that, yeah, fans voted for Jason to die, but given so much time has gone by, and how much fans now know about Jason Todd and the Red Hood, I am curious to know what choices are going to be the most common? What pathways are going to excite them most? That’s what I’m really looking forward to, is the fan response to seeing all the different and interesting places they can take this character. And it’s more than just one or the other now, there are so many options.
If you were offered to return to the role once again, would come back? Or are you now satisfied that you’ve gotten all you can out of this role?
I certainly would if there was more story to tell. I mean, that's something which is up to the great writers DC has. This character is really fun to play, and who doesn’t like being a part of the Batman universe? I mean that’s so exciting personally, and I’m a fan of DC so I would absolutely come back for some more Jason Todd action. We’ll just have to see whether the opportunity arises.
And lastly, what projects have you got coming up?
This is coming up, of course. Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Candance Against the Universe just came out on Disney+ in August, and I hope everyone goes and watches that. And then I have a movie called Shallow Water coming out sometime next year, but who knows when movies are coming out!
DC SHOWCASE BATMAN: DEATH IN THE FAMILY is coming to Digital on October 13th, followed by a Blu-ray release on October 26th.