Sep 19 2013
Alright, I think I’m going to start a new thing that’s the opposite of what we usually do here on the site. Normally we have Remy telling all you guys what obscure movie to watch or me evangelizing about a show you must see. But we’re not all-knowing and there’s plenty of stuff we miss.
So now, I want to do a feature where you suggest something that I should watch/play that haven’t previously, and then I’ll report back with my findings. This week, we’re going with Under the Red Hood, an animated Batman film that was recommended to me after I failed to correctly identify the villain in a recent Nolanverse fan film.
Well, at 75 minutes it was a breeze to get through, and I have to say it was a really solid feature, possibly the best I’ve ever seen via animated Batman. Spoilers follow.
The film opens with the Joker killing Bruce’s latest Robin, Jason Todd, after Batman fails to reach the caged bird in time. Five years later, a new villain called the Red Hood shows up and takes over the city’s underworld at the end of a machine gun, eliminating any competition permanently. He steals all Black Mask’s lieutenants, leaving a trail of bodies in the process, and it’s up to Bruce (and occasionally Nightwing) to figure out what’s going on.
Now, you don’t really have to be the world’s greatest detective that figure out who is indeed “Under the Red Hood.” The film heavily implies pretty quickly that it’s Todd, who has somehow survived the Joker ordeal and faked his own death. Or has he?
The central conflict here is an interesting one. Red Hood is the anti-Batman, dispatching criminals not by capture and imprisonment, but by simply killing them. But he’s intelligent enough to understand that you can’t stop crime, you have to control it instead, hence his rise to become lord of the underworld.
But there’s more at play here. Hood’s ultimate plan is to make Black Mask so desperate, that he resorts to breaking the Joker out of prison to help him deal with the Hood. Naturally, Joker turns on Black Mask, but it quickly scooped up by Red Hood and the final showdown between the two of them and Batman can commence.
It’s then that the real issue is revealed. Red Hood, or Todd, isn’t upset with Bruce for failing to save him, he’s angry because he let the Joker live afterward. The heartbreaking aspect of the situation was that Bruce didn’t love him enough to take an eye for an eye, and break his code for the man who killed boy who was like a son to him.
Todd then puts Batman in the situation of having to shoot Todd before he kills the Joker, or kill the Joker himself. It’s an impossible situation, for anyone but Batman, who manages to disarm everyone in the room AND escape a back-up bomb.
It really is a fascinating look at the central moral issue of Batman, and is a hell of a feature too, with incredible action sequences on par with anything we’ve seen on film. The final brawl between Red Hood and Batman is particularly great. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the Ra’s al Ghul zombie resurrection mumbo jumbo, but I suppose I have to accept it’s part of the Batman lore.
I’d say my only slight disappointment with the film was the voice cast. Yes, they had big names like Neil Patrick Harris (Nightwing), Jason Isaacs (R’as) and Jensen Ackles (Red Hood) on board, but Batman was Bruce Greenwood, not Kevin Conroy, and Joker was John DiMaggio. He’s a great voice actor (who has done like every animated show ever), but not the beloved Mark Hamill variant which would have done so well here.
In the end I don’t really understand how Red Hood would show up in that Nolanverse fan film that inspired this post, as there was no past Robin other than JGL, who is instead the hero of the film, so it must be a complete reinvention of the character. But that’s beside the point.
Anyway, thanks to all those who suggested this, and now, it’s time! What do YOU suggest that I watch or play for next week? I’ll try to pick something good and/or classic I’ve missed so far, and do another one of these columns.
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