Throwback: Batman: Under the Red Hood Tests The Morality of the Caped Crusader

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One of the best DC Animated films to date, Batman: Under the Red Hood boasts impressive animation, solid voice acting, and a plot with more depth than most of its kind. The film examines Batman’s morality and puts it to the ultimate test. Under the Red Hood answers and expands on a major question regarding Batman’s character: Why does he refuse to kill even the most ruthless villains?

Ever since Jason Todd, the second Robin, died at the hands of The Joker, Batman has been fighting crime solo, with the occasional help of Dick Grayson, the original Robin. But when a deadly criminal appears in Gotham, Batman pursues him. What he discovers will not only shock him, but also make him question everything he stands for.

Bruce Greenwood’s performance as Batman/Bruce Wayne is on par with Kevin Conroy’s, who is widely considered THE voice of Batman. Jensen Ackles delivers a solid performance as the Red Hood, giving us a villainous character who we find ourselves sympathizing with. While he isn’t seen much here, Dick Grayson, voiced by Neil Patrick Harris, gets some shining moments during his brief time onscreen and provides a sense of security for Batman, should he need it. The only disappointing performance was John DiMaggio’s as The Joker. He didn’t sound like him and many may find themselves wishing Mark Hamill had stepped in to do the voice acting for such an important character.

The only issue with the film is that it feels overcrowded with villains. Four Batman baddies appear in the film, and for some viewers, that’s just too many. It usually works better to have one or two villains and develop them. Having four villains in a seventy five minute movie makes developing those characters difficult.

Other than that, this film is incredible. The animation is great, showing a darker and grittier Gotham than most DC Animated features do. The film’s strongest aspect lies in its examination of Batman’s character. The Red Hood will test everything he stands for, and the final confrontation will   have viewers wondering if he will finally snap.

Dark, gripping, and  brutal at times, Batman: Under the Red Hood still stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of Batman and sets the bar high for future Animated Batman films.

4/5 stars

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