Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

Batman: Under the Red Hood (BRH) is not for kids.  And depending on how much brutality, immolation and murder one is willing to endure for a narrative, it may not be for some non-kids either.  Our one sentence synopsis will be less of a downer than this direct-release feature.

Long lived Ra's al Ghul makes an appearance. Pictured here with "The Immortal Vandal Savage". What is with these phoenix-like bad guys and their preference for the classic half-goatee?

After watching the second Robin Jason Todd being mercilessly beaten to near death with a crowbar and then blown up we years later follow Batman’s efforts in Gotham City to hunt down a mysterious brutal crime figure called the Red Hood who is as fast and nimble as himself and his old pal Dick Grayson (the first Robin) who decided to drop into town and help out his old mentor in the guise of Nightwing so that all involved in this sad saga can get bludgeoned, blown up or shot as the Red Hood and Joker vie for the title of “most psycho”.

Is that fair? Come on, does the Joker really look "psycho" to- ...ahh, never mind.

If you are a hardcore comic fan who wants to see a video retelling of Jason Todd returning as the Red Hood, this release may be for you.  If you are looking for a fun Batman adventure, this is not it.  Nor was it a bold look into the tragic soul of the Batman that was Mask of the Phantasm.  At least it was good to see Batman, always darkened of late, fighting for his vow of not killing criminal scum.

"Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot." True Bats. (May we recommend Hydroxitone for those laugh lines?)

Jason Todd's Red Hood does not exactly retain the mindset towards guns taught to him in the Batcave.

The action scenes are well done.  The fights feature interesting characters, moves and a new portable rocket thruster bat-gadget.  The vehicular action scenes are equally well done including one featuring a computer generated Batwing.  The pace of the whole one hour and fifteen minute feature never really lags.

The (not so) Fearsome Hand of Four. For all their armor, electro-gizmos and bullet blocking swords, they could not take down an outnumbered Batman and his psycho ex-Robin.

The voice work was very good.  This was not one of those experimental new-voice experiments DC and Andrea Romano have been putting out lately as exemplified in in Justice League New Frontier.  Greenwood is apparently the future of the Batman voice, and he does a good job along with the supporting cast.

Beauty and the Beast. Black Mask and his aide were entertaining in a dry sort of way.

Artistically the feature was also commendable.  It had a lot of style starting from the credits onward.  Now style is not in short supply of late when it comes to these direct-release features -and it is not always pleasing.  However in this case it was not overplayed and welcome.  Although you will notice the only bright spots in this feature’s perpetual night were explosions.

jason todd blown up by joker

"Did I leave the stove on?"

Did BRH take misguided liberties with the characters?  No.  The depictions of everyone from Alfred to the Joker were accurate and fair.  They were just, for the most part not fun.  It is not a fun story.  There is a lot of bad guy brutality, and little comeuppance.

Dr. Watson investigates the local cemetery with Shelock Holmes. What? Oh that's Alfred. Where exactly in Victorian London -er, Gotham City is this?

First Robin, Dick Grayson, has finally been allowed to mature emotionally. Seen here in his Nightwing garb, what Joker called "his big boy pants".

A heartening spot was the inclusion of Nightwing.  This more mature portrayal of Dick Grayson is something we greatly appreciated.  We were tired of the perpetually angry, “I left Gotham to be my own man” attitude.  Here Nightwing shows his deep respect for the father figure in his life and even Bats offers a “Thank you”.

They make an awesome team, though Bats is still a little stubborn about admitting it. After all these years, Dick Grayson still gets to fire the batzooka.

Dick Grayson's Robin fires the batzooka in the 1966 Batman movie.

Additionally the banter between Nightwing and Batman while they fight villains is the most entertaining of the entire movie.  It is delivered snappily, in character, and is the only spark of wry humor.  The Nightwing/Batman relationship has been so often depicted as strained.  Appreciatively here it was perhaps the only significant, active source of warmth.

Jason Todd's Robin was not exactly the warm type.

There are a lot of seminal comic book stories we would like to see worked up into a feature.  This was not the list topper.  BRH appeals to a more narrow fanbase than most animated outings.  Enjoy it… if that is you.

Between Black Mask, Red Hood and an extra psycho Joker, this feature really racks up the body count. This cap would scare even Count Chocula.

Check Out Takes on Other Batman Related Media

Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman [2003]

Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths [2010]

Justice League: The New Frontier [2008]

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies [2009]

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

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21 thoughts on “Batman: Under the Red Hood [2010]

  1. I disagree that it was only for the true fan; with glorified violence being in almost everything these days, I see it workable into mainstream viewing. It’s absolutely not marketable to kids as it is too violent but that’s why we have rating systems! 🙂 I loved it and I loved your picture review. Thanks for stopping by my blog earlier. Much appreciated.

    • We appreciate the comment. Yeah, it is not for kids. We probably disagree about the violence level in other direct-release DC films. We thought this one far more graphic.

  2. Like I said in my review, I thought the film was excellent and told a very fine narrative. The original comic book “Under the Hood” by Judd Wnnick was followed as closely as you can in a 75 minute span (at least better than the Death of Superman one…sheesh). It’s dark and gritty-and uses Dick Grayson’s Spiderman like wit to lighten the mood a little bit. It was good, and really aimed at the people who enjoyed the darker tone of “The Dark Knight” (i heard it made some money, there might be two or three people who really liked it, don’t know about that ;-))

    Good review though guys., love the wit in some of the captions.

    • Yes, you are right. It is very “The Dark Knight”. That movie was one of the reasons we started Fortress Takes. We did not care for it and thought a counter opinion needed to be out there. As you say, it did make a couple dollars… we hear. 😉

      Our take is strictly on the movie. We did not read the comics involved. A lot of people that like this feature apparently have. For them, the content was not shocking but rather expected. For the rest of us going in expecting something like most of the other animated DC outings, this was something very dark and brutal. We think it was different than Mask of the Phantasm which we liked.

      We are gratified you have a sense of humor about it and appreciated some of the wit. We do not always agree, but we strive to keep it interesting and moving along with 599 words and some captions. Thanks for weighing in.

  3. The death of Jason Todd (A Death in the Family) is Batman’s greatest failure, and is viewed as the darkest moment in the history of the Caped Crusader.
    Batman: Under the Hood obviously uses this to take our hero into dark territory. Its one of my favorite plotlines, especially following up the War Games story-arc.

    So… my question is: if you don’t like the dark, then why’re you watching Batman? He’s easily the darkest (mainstream) superhero and isn’t exactly driven by virtue.

    • We are okay with the serious brooding Batman ala the animated Justice League. But brood does not have to mean blood, and serious does not have to mean psycho. The level of darkness for Batman waxes and wanes. He started dark in the early Kane days, got lighter through the 1960’s and 1970’s and then went dark again with Miller’s The Dark Knight leading the way. Maybe he is on his way to being a little lighter now with shows like Batman the Brave and the Bold.

      There is so much to like about Batman. He is more than the brood. He is the normal human hanging with the supers. He is the world’s greatest detective. While not driven by virtue in the truest sense, he does have his ethics.

      The death is a sad enough story. However adding Jason Todd’s return as a psycho turns this story from a death many could empathize with to something else. We think it narrows the audience that will enjoy this. Obviously hardcore comics fans and people who thought Nolan’s The Dark Knight was the best are going to be disposed towards it. Many such people are more frequent interweb types and have made such sentiments clear.

      We think it is good to put a counter opinion out there. Batman is big enough to withstand various interpretations.

  4. Ahh, now your review is better than mine. Much more entertaining.

    I see your point that it won’t fit for every fan of Batman, and I agree. Still, I do feel that Batman will always be a serious character with serious stories. You are correct in that serious doesn’t have to be sad, they mix well but are not intrinsic to each other.

    Still, even with the lighter shows like “Brave and the Bold,” I don’t think the inherent grittiness of Batman ever really goes away. It’s a core part of his character, a normal man who has suffered a horrible tragedy and doesn’t want anyone else to suffer like he did. He does not aim to inspire, though he has done so, but rather to protect by striking fear into the hearts of the guilty.

    I could, of course, be completely wrong. After all, things change over time. Perhaps we’ll see a return of the more traditional super hero Batman in the mainstream. I wouldn’t mind too much. Batman’s a big concept, there’s enough for everybody.

    • Well said josephspace. We agree a gritty stoicism is a part of Batman’s core persona. The part that made him want to imitate a bat because “criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot”.

      Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot

      Sometimes that comes out in contrast to those around him. That was the case in the animated Justice League. Even the Brave and the Bold does not ignore but rather incorporates it in a less dark whole. Red Hood on the other hand was just all grit. Pretty much everyone aside from Nightwing and Alfred was dark.

      Jason Todd Robin was a particularly sad story, and Red Hood particularly gruesome. So we understand why this feature was so dark and graphic and monotoned. We just do not have to like it and hope the larger concept of Batman will give us other serious but more well rounded stories.

  5. It’s an interesting review to the movie. I agree that I don’t think this is for the kids but a lot of these Direct-To-DVD animated features have been on the more mature side. I thought the story was compelling and tragic and a good adaption to this particular story. The beauty of what DC is doing is they have something for everyone. If this show is too dark, you have Batman: The Brave and the Bold for a younger audience. Not to mention you have Young Justice coming out soon and you still have the last season of Smallville to watch. I think DC Entertainment is hitting all of their marks and doing a great job with it.

    • We see where you are coming from regarding releases of varying maturity. Although direct-release features often try to appear as mainstream as they can for maximum sales even if (as in this case) they are not really across the board suitable.

      It is as you say “dark”. But that is an element that does not necessarily have to go along with extreme violence and/or sadness. But that is this story, reasonably faithfully reproduced. A gift to hardcore comic fans and lovers of Nolan’s Dark Knight.

      To DC’s credit, they seem to focus more seriously on their animated properties than Marvel. Thanks for checking out this counter-take.

  6. I’m crossing my fingers for a Batman: Hush film. Not sure how it would work now that Red Hood is out though.

  7. Hush has the same high-stakes and detective elements as Red Hood, but not the same grit and brutality.

    I’m excited to see how they pull off their next project, Batman: Year One. Its one of everyone’s favorites, considered the best Batman storyline ever written. That’s a lot to live up to!

  8. Finally someone else besides myself who’s not a fan of “The Dark Knight”! 😛

    While I really liked Under the Red Hood, and I appreciate that DC went in a darker, more mature direction, I still wouldn’t want every other future DC animated release to be like it. I’m actually still hoping they’ll go back to the B:TAS style someday, but I doubt that’ll happen. 🙂

    • There is a lot of room on the “We do not care for Nolan’s The Dark Knight” bus. Welcome aboard. 😉

      B:TAS influenced the style of many other modern animated versions of the dark knight. We thought the animated Justice League series was a pleasing evolution of that style.

      She has a crush on him.

      We agree, viva la diffrance when it comes to Batman outings. Batman is big enough for many interpretations, as long as they stay true to the character (no guns, etc). We did not like Red Hood, true. Go ahead and make it DC, but watch the marketing. So much of their other animated Batman was of a different tenor. Perhaps they need a specifically named mature brand.

      • Most of the DC Original Animated Movies are heading in this direction. While Red Hood is certainly the darkest, most (all?) of them have earned a PG-13 rating. These are stories for teens/adults, not kids.
        I’m sure the next three will be tamer, and better received at the Fortress.

  9. Thanks for stopping by my blog!

    I really enjoyed your review, you have a great sense of humor–loved the Batman Beyond musical reference. And you make a great point that Nightwing and Batman’s relationship shows a more positive light in this movie, which is refreshing.

    “And depending on how much brutality, immolation and murder one is willing to endure for a narrative, it may not be for some non-kids either.” Like others have mentioned I think a wider audience can still appreciate it; the film is easily the darkest DC animated film to date, but Dark Knight is more depressing, and for some reason plenty of people liked that.

    Bruce Greenwood probably gives the best Batman performance after Conroy. I wonder whom they’ll choose for Year One?

    • Hey, glad you appreciated the humor. Red Hood needed it. 😉

      Why did so many people like Nolan’s The Dark Knight? We agree with you that it was depressing. It may be a sad reflection on society.

      Conroy is a hard act to follow, but you may be right concerning your appraisal of Greenwood. We like when DC is consistent with the characters. Batman’s voice in New Frontier for example was particularly off the path and into the woods. Eww.

      Got some gravel in your throat?

      Might not Greenwood also work for Batman: Year One?

  10. I understand how you felt it was pretty grim – but after the shallow emotion that was Superman Apocalypse, it was a welcome change. It’s another way to view Batman, so it was fresh to me.

    And on a side note – Nightwing needs his own movie or show.

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