Retrospective: Batman: Under the Red Hood

bat-holding-robin

For me and many others, anything Batman is automatically slotted into the ‘must see’ part of my brain. Under the Red Hood, however, has been one I missed to the disgust of most of my friends. Thankfully, Warner Bros. came to the rescue by putting a shiny new copy in the Batman: Arkham City goodies bag. What better time than now to throw up a quick review during our current Batman Week, right?

One of my favourite things from this generation, besides games, has been the awesome effort that both the Marvel and DC camps have put into their animated short films. Not only have we seen great ideas and brilliant stories brought to life, we have also seen comics’ greatest heroes thrown into some more adult subject material.

Great cover art

Batman: Under the Red Hood kicks off with the death of Jason Todd, the current Robin. Joker is responsible and Batman quickly sees that the Clown Prince of Crime is returned to his home in Arkham Asylum. As time passes, a new menace shows up on the streets of Gotham taking control of most of the cities drug money and, in return, promises safety from both rival gangs and of course, the Bat. This new criminal, Red Hood, has a ruthless tendency to kill anyone who opposes him with lethal proficency and begins to clean up crime in a way Batman never could. As Batman goes up against this new vigilante (with the help of Nightwing), it becomes apparent that he is no ordinary villain and, as the city erupts into violence, Batman is forced to confront not only the ghosts of his own past but also an opponent hell bent on breaking his ethics.

Having seen most things the Batman universe has to offer, I was pleasantly surprised with Under the Red Hood. Putting aside some traditional campy dialogue, it has a great script with some decent questions to pit against the Dark Knight’s steely moral stance. It sports a great voice cast featuring John Dimaggio (playing a refreshingly different Joker), fan favourite Neil Patrick Harris and Bruce Greenwood doing an okay job as Batman, too. The animation is clean and suits the story to a tee.

For those that like action, this is a Batman film for you: great intensity, plenty of Batman’s wonderful toys and a a solid amount of the Biff, Bam, Pow. On that note, the entire film is surprisingly violent for something with an M rating. It boasts not only rampant beatings and more explosions than you can fit into a Die Hard film, but also a decent kill count to boot.

Batman doesn't like 'your mother' jokes...

The biggest surprise for me was that that how effectively they made me care about a story primarily based around Robin characters. Having never been a fan of the Boy Blunder, I saw a side to the character rarely talked about. The film covers both the dangers of Batman having sidekicks and also shows off the interesting dynamic between Nightwing and the Bat. There was an interestingly strained anguish to Batman and it was nice to see a slightly emotionally unstable side to the Caped Crusader.

Overnight this has become one of my favourite DC animated feature. Batman: Under the Red Hood has all of the action and humour of the Saturday morning cartoon but adds a brilliant level of complexity and power that appeals to the more adult Batman world. Fans of both sides of the fence will have something to look forward to and this is an absolute must-have purchase. Buy it now if you haven’t already.

9/10

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Joshua Philpott

Tech MacGyver
Games writer, podcaster and tech wizard. Obsessed with obscure horror films, crazy gadgets and caffeine. Passionate, argumentative and open minded. Freelance writer and co-founder rawDLC.

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  • janice

    I think Bruce Greenwood does far more than an “okay” job voicing Batman.
    He’s awesome in Under The Red Hood and also as the voice of batman in Young Justice.

  • The Chad

    Second only to Kevin Conroy in my opinion. That’s not to say he did a bad job, he does an excellent batman.

    The amount of times I have seen Under The Red Hood is easily into the double digits, which is pretty impressive given that it only came out last year and it never get old. This is the kind of awesome I would watch again just from having it come up in conversation.

    I believe I will watch this again either tonight or tomorrow before I head off to work and for this, I thank you.

  • Anonymous

    It’s not that I don’t like him, Just more of a Kevin Conroy Fan. Just my personal opinion is all.