Batman: Under the Red Hood is a 2010 animated Batman film that depicts two story arcs from the comics, "A Death in the Family" and "Under the Hood."


Notable Voice-Actors

Bruce Greenwood - Batman/Bruce Wayne

John DiMaggio - The Joker

Jensen Ackles - Red Hood

Neil Patrick Harris - Nightwing

Wade Williams - Black Mask

Jason Issacs - Ra's al Ghul


Recap (Warning: Spoilers)

After recounting the death of Jason Todd, the second Robin, at the hands of the Joker, the story fast-forwards to five years after the incident to show a criminal in a red mask threatening the top drug lords of Gotham into working for him. He intends to run the Gotham drug trade and promises them protection from the current crime boss, Black Mask, and Batman.

Batman, with some help from Nightwing, encounters some random street thugs attempting to steal a superhuman-esque robot that was meant to be delivered to Black Mask. While they are interrogating the thugs after destroying the robot, a sniper takes out the criminals and Batman gives chase. During the chase, which incidentally leads them to the very spot that gave birth to the Joker, it is revealed that the sniper is Red Hood.

Upon discovering that the villian he is currently dealing with is going by the moniker Red Hood, a persona used by multiple criminal groups, including the Joker before his accident, Batman and Nightwing set out to Arkham Asylum to see if the Joker is involved. The Joker eventually reveals that he isn't behind the current Red Hood's actions because if it were him, he would be sure to let Batman know it was him.

Meanwhile, Black Mask, having realized that Red Hood is behind all his failed business ventures, has increased the security on his current arms deal, but Red Hood interrupts anyway. As he's making his getaway, Batman and Nightwing show up to stop him and he flees. The chase ends at a train station and before disappearing, he yells something at Batman, but most of it is lost in the noise of a passing train.

Back in the Batcave, Bruce analyzes video from the encounter and manipulates it in order to hear what Red Hood said. Once the audio is cleaned up, it's revealed that he said "You haven't lost your touch, Bruce!" This triggers memories of Jason from when he first started fighting crime, to when he was a teenager and his violent personality started to manifest in respect to dealing with criminals.

The story then focuses on Black Mask, who has decided to knock Red Hood out of business by targeting the drug lords who work for him. While some of Black Mask's goons are attempting to take out one of Red Hood's drug lords, Red Hood interrupts them, but the whole thing turns out to be a trap. A group of assassins attack Red Hood, as per Black Mask's true plan, but just when it seems like they are going to succeed, Batman appears and helps Red Hood defeat them. During the fight Red Hood kills one of the assassins, much to Batman's dismay, but Red Hood justifies his actions by saying he is cleaning up Gotham by controlling the crime and taking out the criminals that don't fear him. Red Hood gets away, but Batman is able to get a sample of his blood off of one of the assassin's weapons. The results of the blood sample confirm Batman's suspicions: Red Hood is Jason Todd.

Meanwhile, Red Hood attempts to take out Black Mask in his own headquarters, but he escapes. This close call causes Black Mask to reluctantly go through with his plan to outsource the problem of Red Hood to the Joker. After breaking the Joker out of Arkham Asylum, Black Mask offers the job to the Joker who, after killing Black Mask's guards, agrees to take the job.

Bruce, having exhumed Jason's body, revealing it to be a plastic replica, sets out to confront Ra's al Ghul who originally set the Joker on Batman and caused Jason's death. Ra's al Ghul admits he regrets what he did, because Jason's death was unnecessary, and in order to make amends, he attempted to resurrect Jason using the Lazarus pool. Unfortunately, the resurrection went wrong, and Jason came back insane and jumped off a cliff. Ra's thought that Jason was dead because they never found his body. While flying back to Gotham, Alfred informs Batman that the Joker is free and up to something.

The Joker has taken all of the Red Hood's drug lords, and Black Mask, and is going to set them on fire in order to draw him out. Jason, as Red Hood, shows up, but informs the Joker that he doesn't care about the drug lords and that his endgame was to get the Joker out of Arkham. Batman shows up in time to stop the Joker from lighting the fire, but Jason is able to get away, taking the Joker with him and telling Batman where to find them. Jason takes the Joker to an abandoned apartment and proceeds to beat him with a crowbar, like the Joker did to him before he killed him.

The address Jason gave Batman turns out to be the very spot where he first encountered Jason as a boy, and while Batman is recalling that first meeting, Jason appears to confront him. They engage in a fight that takes them to different locations, but eventually they end up back at the abandoned apartment where Jason stashed the Joker. It is then that Jason reveals why he is doing all this: he forgives Bruce for not being able to save him from dying, but he's furious that the Joker was just put back into the asylum. He thought that the Joker killing him would have been enough for Bruce to finally kill the Joker. Jason's ultimate plan is to force Batman to kill the Joker by giving him a gun and a choice: shoot the Joker or, if Batman refuses to see the Joker killed, shoot Jason before he can pull the trigger and kill the Joker.

Batman refuses to do either and, as Jason aims the gun at his back in a fit of anger, uses a Bat-a-rang to damage the gun which then backfires, injuring Jason's hand. The Joker is able to free himself from Jason's grasp and proceeds to choke Batman, giving Jason enough time to trigger the bomb he planted as a backup plan. The subsequent explosion takes out a large portion of the apartment building. After digging himself out of the wreckage Batman is able to find the Joker, who is alive and well, but can't find any trace of Jason.

Through a series of TV news stories it is revealed that the Joker is back in Arkham, and Black Mask is on trial for his crimes, but there has been no sign of the Red Hood. In the Batcave, Alfred asks Bruce if he wants him to remove Jason's uniform from the cave in light of the recent events. Bruce says that none of the events change anything, and leaves to go patrol the city. The film ends with a flashback to Jason and Bruce getting ready for Jason's first patrol, where the boy says that this is the best day of his life.

Personal Thoughts

I think that for a direct-to-video movie, this was a pretty good film. I've always been a fan of Batman and I watched a lot of Batman: The Animated Series as a kid. So when I went to watch this, I thought it was going to be like that show was, a little dark but mainly cartoon-y, but this movie surprised me. One of the big changes for me was the way they handled the Joker. The TV show Joker I'm used to is dark, scary and insane, but there's was always that cartoonish aspect that took some of the edge off. However, this version of the Joker, which I'm guessing is more comic book accurate, was a lot more menacing. (I mean he beats someone near to death with a crowbar before blowing them up, in the first five minutes of the movie!).  

Another thing I found intriguing about this movie is how it took a look at how Batman deals with crime versus how Jason was dealing with it. Jason's idea of controlling the criminals with fear and taking out the ones that don't comply seems like an effective, albeit harsh and immoral, way of dealing with criminals on the surface but as Batman's view points out, who's to stop Jason from becoming just as bad as the criminals he deals with? I will say that I agree (and I hope this doesn't start an argument about death penalties and insanity and all that, this is just my opinion) with Jason's wanting to kill the Joker. The Joker is quite obviously a threat to society while he's alive, he has no qualms about murdering innocents and obviously feels no remorse and that, coupled with his impulsive nature, makes him a horrible threat. It doesn't seem responsible to me to let someone like that live, especially considering how many times he has escaped his prison, because it's not a matter of if he goes on a rampage, but when.

Finally, as a person who enjoys art and animation, I liked the animation and the style of art in this movie. I can get kind of annoyed when the artistic style of the movie isn't as good as the story it's telling, but this one is drawn very well.

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