If you’ve just finished your Daredevil binge and you’re dying for another fix of some gritty street level super heroics, we’ve got just the thing you need. Back in 2013, director Hisonni Johnson released the first chapter of Grayson: Earth One to rave reviews. Now the dark super hero auteur has returned with a second installment. This chapter shifts the focus away from Richard Grayson, the Batman’s first sidekick, and onto Jason Todd, the troubled young man who would take up the Robin mantle that Grayson left behind. Todd gets a suitably bleak origin story and the film also introduces a new villain to Batman’s universe, a female joker with the same penchant for chaos as this original.
The story is steeped in the kind of darkness rarely seen in the recently popular genre of superhero television. Jason Todd’s story has traditionally been a darker analog to that of his predecessor and Johnson doesn’t pull any punches. Todd’s Gotham city is plagued by crime. Not just the mask wearing, trap-setting supervillain kind, but the random, senseless, drug-fueled violence that plagues real areas of urban decay. Johnson does an impressive job of walking the tightrope between true-to-life darkness and the over-the-top evils that have traditionally inhabited Batman’s world. Hollywood’s frequent retreads of classic superhero origin stories have become something of a sticking point with fans who have grown weary of seeing Clark Kent fall to earth, Bruce Wayne lose his parents, or Peter Parker be bitten by a radioactive spider. Exploring the origins of lesser known but still beloved characters like Jason Todd is a breath of fresh air.
Johnson’s first Batman-inspired fan film, a re-imagining of Batman’s first sidekick and his post-Robin career trajectory, was a massive hit with fans. The video has racked up over 1 million views and an impressive haul of awards and nominations. It took first at Dragon Con 2014, Phoenix Comic Con 2014, The Next TV Competition Grand Championship. The film also garnered nominations for 4 IAWTV Awards, a Streamy nod, and raves from web film festivals around the world. The super hero action genre is on fire right now with TV and movie studios working non-stop to crank out newer and bigger adaptations of beloved comics. In recent years, DC properties have lagged behind competitor Marvel at the box office. The iconic publisher could take some notes from Johnson’s dark but compelling rendering of their classic characters.
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