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September 5, 2010

Stay Tooned Sundays: Batman Under The Red Hood

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Written by: nickz
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[Editor’s Note: Please welcome our new columnist, Nick Zamora! Nick will be writing a bi-weekly column about comic book-based TV shows and cartoons. Welcome to the team, Nick!]

Welcome to the premier instalment of  Stay Tooned Sundays!  This is the place to find out what’s hot in comic book related TV, cartoons, and animated flicks. I thought we should start out with the most successful comic book character to  make the jump to the small screen, and one of my personal favorites, Batman. Also, it  just so happens that the latest DVD animated project to be released by Warner Bros. and DC is a Batman movie. So grab some snacks and let’s dive right in. 

Title: Batman: Under The Red Hood
Written by: Judd Winick
Director: Bradon Vietti
Company: DC Entertainment; Warner Bros. Animation
Distributed by: Warner Premiere
US Release Date: July 27, 2010
Length: 75 min.
MPAA: Rated PG-13

Batman: Under The Red Hood tells the tragic tale of the second person to don the Robin costume, Jason Todd. The story begins five years in the past with Batman frantically racing to rescue Robin, who has been taken captive by the Joker. Before Batman is able to arrive, the Joker viciously beats Robin to near death with a crowbar. The Joker then leaves the barely conscious boy wonder with a bomb that is seconds away from detonating. Batman shows up  just in time to see the building explode and to carry the lifeless body of one Jason Todd out of the wreckage.

Fast forward five years and we find that Gotham’s underworld has united for the first time, under the rule of the Black Mask. The Black Mask’s criminal empire  is soon challenged, however, by a new mysterious figure known as the Red Hood. As an all out war between the Red Hood and Black Mask breaks out for control of Gotham, Batman and Nightwing find themselves caught in the middle. During this time, Batman becomes intrigued with discovering the Red Hood’s true identity after witnessing his impressive fighting skills in action. Batman immediately begins an investigation to find out anything he can on this new Red Hood. The journey to uncover the Red Hood’s secrets leads Batman to some familiar foes, namely the Joker and Ra’s al Ghul. As the mystery of the Red Hood unravels, Batman is forced to deal with a skeleton he thought long buried.

Who is the Red Hood? What is his master plan? Can Batman overcome a past failure in time to stop the Red Hood, or will he be too late?

*spoilers ahead*

This newest DC animated movie is a can’t miss for any Batman fan. The story is very dark and not intended for younger viewers. With heads in duffel bags, people being set on fire, and cringe worthy beat downs, it’s not for the faint of heart. From start to finish the movie is a non-stop thrill ride filled with plenty of action, drama, and humor. Andrea Romano, the voice director, does an amazing job of selecting a great voice cast for the movie. The stellar cast includes Bruce Greenwood as Batman, Jensen Ackles as the Red Hood, and John Dimaggio as the Joker. Possibly the only misstep might be in the casting of Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing. While Nightwing is by nature a more fun and optimistic character, NPH’s portrayal is a bit too light hearted for the dark tone of this story.

What I enjoy most about this film are the great character dynamics. In the scenes with Batman and Nightwing there is an ever present feeling of the classic father and son relationship. Nightwing yearns for some kind of acknowledgement or approval from Batman, who is incapable of giving it, at least in the way that Nightwing desires. Nightwing also brings a much needed sense of humor which plays well off Batman’s stoic nature. The core relationship of the film, however, is that between Batman and the Red Hood, who as it turns out is Jason Todd, risen from the dead. From Batman’s perspective, he sees Jason as his greatest failure and feels very much responsible for what happened to him. Jason on the other hand is filled with anger towards Batman, and not for the reason one would expect. He believes that Batman is too soft on criminals and unwilling to do what is necessary to ever win the war on crime. All of this turmoil comes to a head in a final dramatic showdown between Batman, Jason Todd, and the Joker. The fight is a very personal one, fueled by strong emotions from both Jason and Batman. It is during this battle that we get to see the true genius and madness that is the  Joker. He brings some comic relief to this intense emotional drama, while at the same time instigating and escalating the situation until it reaches its explosive end.

The movie also has some really great flashbacks that run throughout the story. During random moments, Batman relives some of his memories he had with Jason, from the time he first met him, to the first time Jason suited up as Robin, and how he slowly progressed into a darker character. In one such flashback we get to see this Batman and Robin in action as they face off against the Riddler. The dynamic is very different from the one Batman shares with Nightwing, and this Robin has much more of an edge to him. In another flashback, we learn, from Ra’s al Ghul’s perspective, his part in the death and resurrection of Jason Todd. Throughout all the flashbacks, Batman is wearing his old costume with the yellow bat-logo and he seems a bit more friendly. This contrast in Batman’s costume and character really demonstrates the impact that Jason’s death had on him personally.

There were a few places where I think the film missed the mark. One of those being the complete absence of Tim Drake, the third Robin. This story is very much a story about what it means to be Robin. To have Dick and Jason in it and not include Tim, who is the other bookend to the Robin story line, is kind of a let down. Another Tim related gripe I have is toward the end of his time as Robin, Jason wears Tim Drake’s Robin costume. It is in fact that costume which is on display in the Bat-cave. I found this to be a bit strange, and it seemed to suggest that because Jason had different Robin costumes that he had been Robin for a longer time than he was in the comics. My last little nit pick I have is that early on in the movie, Batman and Nightwing take on and defeat Amazo pretty easily, but then later the two of them can’t seem to be able to stop the Red Hood. This really isn’t a big deal, but I just found it odd that out of all the villains to have Batman and Nightwing go up against, they chose Amazo in the first place. Despite these few grievances, I find this movie to be a great watch! I think it’s worth seeing, plus the two-disc DVD is loaded with lots of extras. It has a first look at the next DC animated movie, an awesome Jonah Hex short, two episodes of Batman the Animated Series, and a cool documentary on Dick Grayson’s evolution as a character. Really, what more could you ask for?

Nick Zamora
nickz@comicattack.net

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8 Comments


  1. Jeff Jackson

    I loved this one! For someone who doesn’t read Batman comics, I thought this was a great story. If you’re gonna bring back Jason Todd, at least they did it well. I loved the Joker in this one.


  2. billy

    Great review man! I haven’t seen this yet, but I can’t wait to.



  3. @Jeff I agree, the story was well done and really, how awesome was the Joker?!

    @biilly thanks, man! You should definitely check it out.



  4. I actually JUST picked this movie up last night and watched it and still thought it was done well despite my issues with it. Joker was alright but all I could hear was Bender from Futureama and to me Mark Hamil is THE voice of the Joker. Bruce Geenwood did a good job as Batman and I hear he’ll be reprising the role in the Young Justice cartoon.

    In regards to the not showing of Tim as Robin I think that that would have been too much to anyone who was very new to the story. Those of us who read the comics have a bit of an edge over the new converts that a lot of these films are aimed at. Though maybe a two hour HUSH story would have been better.

    I definitely agree with you on the choice of Amazo as a villian for Batman and Nightwing to take on. I actually laughed when he came out of the box but then again that just shows that we’re NOT the target audience for these films.

    Great write up man and welcome aboard!


  5. Aron

    Great article, Nick! Welcome aboard! I haven’t seen this yet but I really want to. I have to ask, though…did it take a while to get used to watching a Batman cartoon and not hearing Kevin Conroy’s voice?



  6. @IS I know what you mean about the Joker and Mark Hamil but i still think Joker was great in this. I also think a Hush moive would be rad. Hush is one of my favorite Batman stories of all time. Thanks for the welcome, it’s cool to be part of the team.

    @Aron Thank you. Kevin Conroy is Batman to me, so yes it’s always strange at first to hear someone else doing the voice but Bruce Greenwood did a pretty good job.



  7. […] next short, DC Showcase: Jonah Hex was first released as a bonus feature with Batman Under The Red Hood. This features the voice talents of Thomas Jane, Linda Hamilton, Michael Rooker, and Michelle […]



  8. […] the end, and the fans got to call in and vote on whether Jason would live or die. Well, we all know he didn’t die now, but back then it was a pretty interesting idea and I think it was really […]



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