BRIEF SYNOPSIS: A new enemy is taking over the Gotham underworld. Calling himself the Red Hood, he is consolidating his hold by taking out the competition, mainly – Black Mask. Well trained and funded, Red Hood is causing all sorts of trouble and it’s up to Batman and Nightwing to take him down.
PROS: Excellent animation (as always); decent story, Neil Patrick Harris is great as Nightwing.
CONS: I miss Kevin Conroy as Batman; they kind of give it all away from the get-go; Worst Joker Voice Ever.
BOTTOM LINE: I’m a fan of Batman, I enjoy these movies immensely and I think you will too. Not necessarily for kids due to graphic violence (is rated PG13 so use your own judgment-there’s guns, blood, killing, etc). If you follow Batman in comics, you know this story…
I’m a fan of Batman. Since I started the whole podcasting thing, I’ve chatted with a lot of people around my age who seem to have followed a similar path to my own when it came to comic books; as a kid, they collected a lot of Marvel, as they grew up, they switched to DC. That’s exactly what happened to me.
Batman was one of the very first DC titles I ever collected and I was instantly hooked. My memories at that point were of Adam West acting a sort of silly Batman, but the Batman jumping off the page was something completely different. He was dark, brooding, rigid in his beliefs and pretty much a loner – at least at the time I started reading his titles.
Turns out, Dick Grayson had grown up which in and of itself was pretty monumental in comic books. I mean, heck, Peter Parker was in college longer than most doctors and lawyers and still didn’t have a degree of any kind, yet Dick grew up, moved out and became his own man and a superhero in his own right – Nightwing.
But that wasn’t why Batman was alone. See, he’d had another partner after Dick, a kid named Jason Todd. Jason became Robin II and for a time, Batman and Robin were back again. For a time. The problem was, the fans didn’t care for him. They wanted Dick Grayson as Robin, not this kid who had the gall to try and steal the tires off the Batmobile.
So DC held a contest; Robin was captured by the Joker. The fans got to decide what happened next: Did the Batman save him or not. They voted ‘not’.
The Joker beat him to death with a crowbar. Then blew up the building where he was holding him.
This pivotal moment, which created an iconic image of Batman holding Robin’s lifeless body cradled in his arms, is the opening scenes of Batman: Under the Red Hood.
The DC Animated features have been fantastic, in my humble opinion. They tend to be based on graphic novels or events in the DCU and have good stories, excellent animation and voice talent. Under the Red Hood is no exception – for the most part.
The story begins with the death of Jason Todd and shows us a little how that affects Batman/Bruce Wayne. Essentially, he doesn’t want to work with anyone again because he carries the weight of Jason’s death with him as much if not more so than he carries the death of his own parents. It’s a scar that won’t heal because he won’t let it heal.
Five years later, Gotham is still Gotham, and there’s something afoot. A new Red Hood has appeared and is consolidating his hold over the criminal underground, trying to push out the current boss, Black Mask.
A lot of different men have called themselves ‘Red Hood’ throughout the years, including the Joker himself, but this new Red Hood is ruthless, vicious even, in his bid to be the new boss of Gotham’s underworld.
It’s up to Batman to figure out who the Red Hood is and stop him before Gotham becomes embroiled in a new, bloody gang war.
This story features appearances by The Joker, Black Mask, Nightwing, Alfred & Ra’s al Ghul.
- Bruce Greenwood as Batman/Bruce Wayne
- Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing/Dick Grayson
- Jensen Ackles as Red Hood
- John DiMaggio as The Joker
- Jason Isaacs as Ra’s al Ghul
- Jim Piddock as Alfred Pennyworth
Sorely missed are Kevin Conroy as Batman/Bruce Wayne & Mark Hamil as The Joker – Both have put their mark on those characters and I truly miss them when they are absent from these films. John DiMaggio’s portrayal of The Joker is probably my least favorite to date, but Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing was a blast. Jensen Ackles as Red Hood – I hear Dean Winchester, not Red Hood. I don’t know if this was his first voice acting gig or what, but he didn’t bring a lot to the character beyond what he brings to Dean on Supernatural, which is sad.
If you’re looking for kid friendly entertainment – my suggestion is this: younger kids, maybe not. The death of Robin is handled well in the beginning, and you don’t actually SEE Joker connect crowbar to child, but you KNOW it’s happening, so I leave that up to you. Older kids – I think they can handle this, though it is a bit more violent than your average animation.
Bonus: The 2 disc edition includes: DC Showcase: Jonah Hex. This is a quick, 15/20 minute animated short featuring everyone’s favorite disfigured cowboy looking to collect a bounty. As with previous DC Showcase bonus pieces, this is well done but very quick.
You also get trailers for several other DC Animated features currently available and a sneak peak at: Batman/Superman: Apocalypse, the next animated film based on Batman/Superman/Supergirl, which tells the retconned/new Supergirl origin story and has Apocalypse trying to use her to get to Superman. Looks awesome!
There’s a featurette on Robin called ‘Robin: The Story of Dick Grayson’ that explores the origin of the character and how he grew over time and finally became Nightwing.
Lastly, you get 2 episodes of Batman: The Animated series that focus on original Robin, Dick Grayson – Robin’s Reckoning Part 1 and 2.
The 2 disc special edition will run you around $25 barring any discounts ($20 + shipping online). The single disc edition also includes the DC Showcase: Jonah Hex and will run you around $20 barring any discounts ($15 + shipping online).