Let us revisit Gotham City and delve into a tale that has a familiar face from the past giving the Dark Knight a stunning shock in a tale called…
Originally released on July 27, 2010, this film is based on the story arc of the same name that ran in Batman #635-641, then in #645-650 and concluded in Batman Annual #25. The story was written by Judd Winick who also helps out in this film by being the adaptation’s writer. How does J.W. handle this page-to-film transfer of his own story? Let’s find out.
We open in Sarajevo and inside the fortress of longtime Batman foe Ra’s Al Ghul (voiced by Jason Isaacs). However, he’s not brew-ha-ha-ing about a villainous act to come. He’s despairing of the fact that a partnership with another Batman foe is going to lead to terrible consequences.
Far away at a warehouse, we have Robin a.k.a. Jason Todd who’s handcuffed and getting severely beaten up by a particular and well-known Batman foe, the Joker (voiced by John DiMaggio). Robin continues to get pummeled as the Joker wails away with a crowbar.
Meanwhile, Batman (voiced by Bruce Greenwood) is on his Bat-Cycle, speeding through the snow as fast as he can in order to reach Jason before something even more terrible happens.
After a small while, the Joker leaves the battered Boy Wonder and makes off into the night. Jason is able to form his body enough to get his cuffed hands to the front and crawls towards the door. However, he finds out that he’s locked in. To make things worse, he then hears beeps. To his horror, he sees a crap load of explosives with a timer counting down.
Batman finally arrives at the warehouse, but it’s too late as the timer ticks down and the explosives blow up the building.
The Dark Knight then searches through the charred remains of the building to find his sidekick. To his horror, he finds Jason Todd’s lifeless body and succumbs to the guilt of not being able to reach his partner in time.
Following the opening credits, we then cut to five years later in Gotham City where a group of drug lords (all of whom are under the fierce grip of Black Mask) have been gathered in a desolate building. All of them are confused on who exactly brought them together for this meeting.
They get their answer when they spot a figure up in the walkway wielding an AK-47 named Red Hood (voiced by Dean Winchester himself, Jensen Ackles) who says that he’ll be running the drug trades now. He then makes a deal with them: The Drug Lords will go about their business as usual, but Red Hood earns 40% of their profit and they stay away from dealing drugs to children. In return, he’ll protect them from both Batman and Black Mask.
When one of the drug lords asks why they should do as he says, Red Hood simply tosses a duffle bag down onto their table. When they open up the bag, they’re shocked and sickened by the fact that it contains the decapitated heads of their lieutenants. After then concluding with the fact that he’s telling them that they’re going to join his system, Red Hood fires away onto the table and vanishes. The scene ends with the drug lords agreeing to follow their new lead.
We then cut to the docks where a slightly-beaten up moving truck is speeding away in terror as three guys are trying to get away with a prized item that’s under Black Mask’s ownership.
However, Batman is able to catch up to them. One of the thugs trys to fire a shotgun blast at him, but the Dark Knight to able to elude the shot.
As the thugs regain their sight from the shattered windshield, they see that Batman was ready and had spikes placed in their path. After running over them, they start to lose control of the truck as they smack into some crates which causes their particular item to fall out.
After the truck ultimately tips over and crashes, Batman grabs the driver and demands to know who they’re working for. Just then, the crate that their package was in opens revealing it to be the deadly android Amazo. As he handcuffs the thugs to the truck, Batman tells them that this robotic nightmare has the ability to absorb the powers of super humans. Just then, Amazo begins his attack as Batman tries to take him down.
After receiving an Amazo-sized punch, Batman then hears and sees his inaugural Robin has come to help him out, Dick Grayson a.k.a. Nightwing (voiced by Dr. Horrible himself, Neil Patrick Harris).
Nightwing manages to slip on enhanced knuckles and manages to deliver a hard-enough punch to chip off a piece of Amazo’s face. Afterwards, he and Batman manage to continually score successive hits on the deadly android as the Dark Knight throws a group a Batarangs at it. One of them redirects itself onto Amazo’s left thigh which explodes and exposes his cybernetic skeleton leg.
Despite that, Amazo still continues with the pursuit. Batman and Nightwing uses their grappling hooks to try and get away, but Amazo is able to fly towards them and grabs Nightwing.
Batman is able to grapple onto Amazo’s exposed leg and tell Dick that the android has the same weaknesses as a human. As such, Nightwing takes out a pair of knives and jabs them into Amazo’s ears. After getting free from a fierce grasp, he manages to get to Batman who glides down and has a grappling hook get them to ground level while Amazo plummets down and smashes into the ground.
Despite the abuse, Amazo is still able to get up and proceeds to fire away with laser eyes. Ultimately, Nightwing’s dodging gets him cornered by the towering behemoth.
Fortunately, Batman is able to save the day as he slaps some plastique over the android’s eyes. The resulting explosion causes Amazo’s head to get destroyed as the mighty techno-nightmare is finally defeated.
Afterwards, Batman and Nightwing interrogate the three thugs to find out who they’re working for. They say that they’re working for Red Hood, but shortly afterwards, all three of them are shot dead.
Batman and Nightwing quickly take cover as the Caped Crusader uses his binoculars to zoom in and discovers the sniper (which is actually Red Hood) across the harbor and on the Gotham rooftops. As such, Batman signals for the Batwing to pick him up and pursue the target.
Batman manages to catch up just as Red Hood reaches his car and speeds off, swiping innocent drivers off the road as he viciously tries to get away. Batman even follows the car through a tunnel with the greatest of ease.
He then fires a grappling hook at the car which manages to pierce through the roof, but Red Hood ultimately shoots that capture plan down by releasing it from the vehicle.
He ultimately leads Batman to a chemical warehouse as he crashes though the loading dock’s gate, while the Dark Knight goes though the skylight windows to enter the building.
As Batman looks around, he sees a piece of newer guard rail as he remembers that this was where he cornered the original Red Hood who tripped over his own cape and fell into the chemical tank, causing him to become the Joker.
He’s then confronted by the current Red Hood who ironically states that they’re in the same place of Batman’s “first great failure” and that it definitely wasn’t his last. Shortly afterwards, Red Hood shoots down at the crashed car where the sparks ignite the chemicals into a raging inferno.
Batman tries to go after him, but Red Hood escapes as an explosion sends the car into the walkway. The Caped Crusader is ultimately forced to escape from the building which he does before it gets blown up.
We then head over to the Bat Cave where Batman and Nightwing are confirming the intel that Dick brought in about their guy as the Red Hood, since he greatly resembles the Joker’s former identity and several criminals groups who have used the ploy in their own crime spree.
Just then, the Wayne family butler Alfred (voiced by Jim Piddock) comes in with some coffee. As Nightwing is about to have a cup, he says that they know that the Joker is already in custody and that they should go visit him for information. Just then, he looks over and sees that Batman is already ahead of him as he readies the Batmobile as Nightwing hops in.
We then cut to Arkham Asylum as our heroes visit the Joker to try and see what he knows about the current Red Hood, but all they get from him is they his R.H. version was more classy.
Joker then brings up Dick’s successor as Robin and taunts our heroes about it, causing Batman to toss the psychotic clown across the padded room and nearly choke him. After releasing the Joker from his grasp, he and Nightwing leave after obtaining little information on their Red Hood situation.
We then cut to the main office of the crime boss himself, Black Mask (voiced by Wade Williams) who’s furious over the fact that his Amazo robot had a long list of potential buyers and that it was going to help him in high-end international trafficking, yet Red Hood’s plans and Batman’s destruction/personal-keeping habit has shot that plan down.
After placing a kill order on Red Hood, he asks for the specifics for his upcoming shipment. It contains 10 cases of sub-machine guns and personal defense weapons along with 5,000 rounds of .45 caliber Automatic Colt Pistol bullets and two cases of Rocket-Propelled Grenades, all of which will be delivered this evening. Unbeknownst to Black Mask and his gang, a certain mobile receiver is under the desk to which Batman overhears the conversation.
Not only that, but Red Hood has his own mobile receiver and overhears them as well.
Later on, a helicopter arrives at its rooftop drop point as several hooded gunmen are just standing there. One of them gets into the chopper and reveals himself to be Red Hood. He kicks the pilots out and they end up falling into the gunmen who had their hands tied up.
As Red Hood starts to take off with the weapons shipment, a special kind of grappling spear pierces into the chopper and activates, causing the helicopter to malfunction. It turns out that Batman and Nightwing arrived to break up his plan. Red Hood then makes the chopper dive towards the busy streets below to which Nightwing rapidly staples up his line while Batman dives down and uses a series of grapples to save the helicopter from crashing onto the ground. In the middle of this, Red Hood managed to jump out of the falling aircraft just before our heroes could enact their rapid rescue.
After Nightwing grapples down and gets Batman, they then proceed to chase after Red Hood on the rooftop. Through a construction site and over a police blimp, our heroes are able to keep up with their target. During the chase, Batman activates a cowl-mounted video camera and tries to take their foe down with a Batarang tied up with a cable. Just as it starts to tightly wrap around his leg, Red Hood takes out a certain knife and cuts the line before the chase ultimately ends up at a Skyway Station.
Batman & Nightwing make their way down to the station in order to continue their search, but then they hear and see a bomb ticking down towards destruction. They make a run for it just as it blows up, injuring Nightwing’s leg in the process. Batman sees Red Hood on a motorcycle saying, “You haven’t lost your touch…”, but the rest of the statement is drowned out as a subway train comes by them. After it passes, the Dark Knight sees that Red Hood has escaped.
After returning to the Bat Cave, Batman plays back the footage. As Alfred wraps some bandages on his injured leg, Nightwing comments on the fact that Red Hood has some serious skills and training. His point is made when Red Hood was able to free his leg before the entwining cable went taut. Batman also points out the knife and that there’s hardly any kind that can cut through his cables.
After thanking Nightwing for his services, Batman asks for Alfred to escort him home.
After Nightwing leaves, Batman then uses the Bat-Computer to try and figure out what Red Hood was trying to say to him before the subway car drowned out the remainder of his statement. After eliminating the noise from the subway car, he finally hears the full statement: “You haven’t lost your touch, BRUCE!” Batman is shocked by the fact that Red Hood turns out to actually be someone he once tutored in his skills: Jason Todd.
As Bruce looks over at Jason’s prior Robin costume, he then flashes back to when they were starting off as a dynamic duo. As a young and enthusiastic boy, Jason showed off his future talents as he helps Batman defeat the Riddler.
However, age also began to unleash Jason’s inner evils. During a drug bust, he’s able to avoid various forms of gun fire as he takes down a group of thugs. Just then, one last thug tries to shoot our dynamic duo down. Batman easily disarms him with a Batarang, but Robin drives his elbow into him. This causes the thug’s collarbone to break as he passes out in shock.
After returning to the Bat Cave, Batman scolds him on the fact that the thug was going to talk. Jason apologizes, yet tells Batman that he still deserved it, thus ending the flashback.
Meanwhile, Black Mask is furious when he finds out that his latest shipment met the same failing fate as his Amazo deal. As such, he decides to have his gang take the fight to Red Hood by invading his controlled areas and reclaiming them as his own. Unbeknownst to them, Red Hood sees one of the attacks from afar.
Over in a vacant lot, two of Black Mask’s thugs attack a Red Hood-owned drug lord named Tyler Bramford (voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson). They rough him up, drag him over to a broken-down car and prepare to set him ablaze with a Molotov Cocktail.
Just then, a well-aimed gun shot hits the petrol bomb and sets a thug on fire. Red Hood comes in and scares away the other thug.
Shortly afterwards, a group of cyberneticly enhanced figures called the Fearsome Hand of Four arrive and proceed to brawl. Unlike the rest of the common man thugs under Black Mask’s watch, this group actually presents a challenge to Red Hood. They easily use their weapons to protect themselves from opposing gunfire and manage to score some decent hits on him.
Just then, Batman arrives and helps Red Hood out of his fight against the killers-for-hire.
During this, the lone Fearsome Hand female is able to use her sword and land a slice on Red Hood’s arm. Fortunately, he and Batman managed to slowly but surely defeat the various techno-fighters.
All that remained was the nimble-figured, cyclops-shooter who’s able to finally have Red Hood at his mercy. Batman pulls out his taser and demands that he step away from him. However, Red Hood uses own taser and sends enough volts to the face that it actually causes his head to explode.
Afterwards, he tells Batman that he’s cleaning up Gotham City in a way he never could. Batman points out the fact he’s becoming more like a crime lord and that he’s claiming more of Black Mask’s territory while killing anyone who gets in his way. Red Hood tells him that he can’t stop crime, so he’s controlling it by instilling fear into the fearless criminals and wiping them out. Batman offers to help and fix whatever happened to him, but Red Hood refuses and escapes with the help of a smoke grenade.
Batman then discovers the sword that has specks of Red Hood’s blood, so he takes it back to the Bat Cave to look at the sample and analyze it. The Bat-Computer confirms him that it’s the same blood as former Robin, Jason Todd. Alfred drops his tray in shock when he sees the revelation.
More bad news continues to pile on for Black Mask when he finds out that not only did the Fearsome Hand of Four fail their capture mission, but yet another weapons shipment met a destructive demise as Red Hood continues to blow away any form of competition and is making a destructive path towards him. His anger even reached the point where he’s punches his own men just to relieve some tension.
Just then, he notices an aiming light on himself as he looks out the window and sees Red Hood gleefully aiming an RPG at him. He and his thugs make a run for it just as our anti-hero fires towards the main office. The explosion hits with enough force to blow off the Fire Exit door and nearly decapitate Black Mask. Seeing his criminal empire continue to crumble, he finds himself forced to take an extreme measure.
As such, he’s able to pay off the main guards at Arkham Asylum so that his thugs can go in and have the Joker go with them.
Meanwhile, Bruce and Alfred make their way to the cemetery as they dig up Jason Todd’s grave. When they manage to get the coffin open, they see his resting form. However, upon closer examination, Bruce sees that it’s not his actual body as this fake is made of high-end latex. After getting back to the Bat Cave, Bruce blames himself for being stupid and careless enough to not check the body earlier. After suiting up as Batman, he tells Alfred that he’s going to talk to the man responsible for this as takes off in the Batwing.
Back with Black Mask, he meets up with the Joker and tells him that he went through great lengths to acquire his services and he wants him to kill Red Hood. After asking for and receiving a glass of water, the Joker breaks the glass and slits one guy’s throat, steals his gun, and shoots the rest of his male thugs. He then calms down and says he’ll take the job.
Over in Sarajevo, Batman breaks into Ra’s Al Ghul’s fortress and demands to know what he did to Jason Todd. After allowing him to call off his guards, the Dark Knight begins to learn about what happened five years ago.
It turns out that during the last time that Batman faced him, Ra’s Al Ghul was enacting a plan to topple the European economy and he hired the Joker as a means of distraction. Batman and Robin caught up to the Clown Prince of Crime in Bosnia as they fought his thugs. During the fight, the Joker was making an escape and Jason followed in pursuit. Batman tried to follow, but a random thug prevented that from happening. From there, the Joker would go on to kill Jason. This action was not at all what Ra’s was expecting, nor did he intend a death to occur. As such, he chose to no longer engage against Batman and hoped to rectify for his actions.
After Bruce initially left Bosnia, Ra’s men would sneak into the U.S. Embassy’s morgue and swap out Jason’s corpse with the fake duplicate. From there, he would be brought back to life with the help of the Lazarus Pit.
Under normal circumstances, Ra’s Al Ghul has used these extremely special waters to exist for centuries and constantly restore some youth into himself. With his plan, he and his men lowered the lifeless body into the Lazarus Pit. Because of this, Jason Todd has been resurrected…
…but came back damaged in more ways than one. Because of the chemicals within the pit, Jason went all crazed as he sped out of the pit and easily past Ra’s guards.
He would ultimately make his way to the main study and crash through the window to fall into a dark oblivion. Ra’s concludes his tale by stating that he and his men searched for months, but were unable to find him. With this information in mind, Batman takes his leave.
As Batman files back to Gotham, he and Alfred talk about Jason and what he was when he was a young & gifted, yet a law-breaking troublemaker before he took him under his wing. He continues by saying that he was different than Dick Grayson, yet had a huge slate of promising power to unlock. Yet even from the beginning, he was very brash. He even states that his initial death will forever remain his fault and now that he’s back, he’s taking all of his training and using it against him. Just then, Alfred receives a news feed and has Batman patch into it in order to respond.
At the Gotham Bay Bridge, the police have closed it off since in the middle of it is a big rig that partially crashed through the side. Inside the trailer is Black Mask and a majority of his former gang members as they’re tied up and at the mercy of the Joker who even dumped gasoline on them and is about to set them on fire.
Just then, the police’s spotlight discovers Red Hood on top of an arch. He tells Joker that he doesn’t care that some of the thugs who are under his command are being held up in the trailer, just that all of his planning has gathered an audience to see the two of them tussle together in a “reunion”. Red Hood further exclaims that Black Mask was the only one who would be desperate enough to use connections to get Joker out of Arkham.
Shortly afterwards, the Joker is able to get a proper spark and drops the lighter into the trailer. After reaching the various thugs, it immediately starts to grow a steady flame.
Fortunately, Batman arrives in time as he dumps some fire retardant onto the trailer as enough of it gets inside to extinguish the blaze. After that, he uses a grapple to fly in and latch onto the Joker to carry him away.
However, Red Hood manages to lunge out and grab onto the cable. From there, he uses his knife to cut himself and the Joker away from Batman as they vanish into the waters below. He then sends a radio message to the Dark Knight to meet him in Crime Alley.
At an abandoned apartment building, Red Hood throws a tied-up Joker into a room and proceeds to give him the same brutal beating that he received five years ago, crowbar in hand.
Shortly afterwards, Batman arrives via Batwing at Crime Alley. Upon seeing a certain spot of the alley, he has a quick flashback to how he and Jason Todd met each other. The young lad actually managed to strip the Batmobile of its tires, yet Batman catches him in the act.
Just then, Red Hood confronts the Dark Knight as they begin their final battle with each other.
The fight ultimately makes its way onto the rooftops where Red Hood uses his knife to strip Batman of his utility belt before the Dark Knight’s lunge at the anti-hero causes them to land on top of a church. Red Hood then quickly removes Batman of his cowl, but gives the mask back to him.
He then takes off his helmet to reveal his domino-masked face. Batman once again asks for help, but Red Hood shoots that chance down.
After kicking his helmet towards the Caped Crusader, Red Hood then sets off a bomb within the mask. Batman avoids the blast and gets his own mask back on as he continues the fight.
The fight then makes its way up the steeple as Red Hood manages to score some successive punches, yet Batman turns the tide when he recovers, pull out an igniter from his glove, and uses it to burn Jason’s jacket. This causes him to discard it and all of his further gadgets.
They ultimately make their way to the abandoned apartments as Batman takes full control of the fight, easily smacking Red Hood around before smashing him through the wall.
After Batman once again says that he’s trying to save him, Red Hood takes one of his guns, holds the Dark Knight at gunpoint, and asks whether his guilt or his morality is questionable. Jason forgives Bruce for not saving him, but is angered as to why the Joker is still living as he kicks down the closet door, allowing a tied-up Clown Prince of Crime to hop out.
Ultimately, Red Hood questions why Batman doesn’t just kill the Joker and put a permanent end to his reign of terror. Bruce tells him that hardly a day ever goes by that he actually thought of doing the dark deed to the Clown Prince of Crime, but he doesn’t do it since it would start a nasty habit that he would never shake off.
Not wanting there to be any sane choice in the matter, Red Hood tosses his other gun to Batman and gives him an ultimatum. Either he lets Jason shoot and kill Joker or he uses the spare gun to shoot his former partner and prevent the Clown Prince of Crime from dying at Red Hood’s hands.
However, Batman just drops the gun and starts to walk away. Enraged by the indecision, Red Hood fires a shot at him. However, the Dark Knight was prepared as he quickly dodges the shot and then uses a Batarang to get lodged in the gun barrel and explode, injuring Jason’s shooting hand.
Red Hood refuses to let this situation get unresolved, so he enacts his final act: A load of plastique explosives in the fireplace and they’ll explode in 20 seconds. Batman tries to defuse the bombs, but the Joker lunges at him and goes all determined to see that they’ll blow up together. Batman is able to get Joker off him and tries to save him and Jason.
Just then, the timer runs down as the apartment blows up.
In the aftermath, Batman searches through the rubble for Jason. He can’t find him, but he does discover that the Joker also survived the blast. We then get a brief series of news reports being watched by a healthy Nightwing and an airborne Ra’s Al Ghul, as we find out that Black Mask will be put on trail despite posting a $1 million bail and that the Joker has been returned to Arkham Asylum.
In the Bat Cave, Alfred asks if he should remove Jason’s Robin costume. Batman declines the request since it “doesn’t change anything at all” and goes off to patrol Gotham.
And so, our story ends with one last flashback to when a young Jason Todd was about to begin his inaugural crime-fighting night as Robin as the lad proclaims this to be “the best day of my life”.
Even though this story is an adaptation of “Under The Red Hood”, the opening scene is mostly right out of the Jim Starlin story “A Death In The Family”. On how this film holds up, it goes like this. Jason Todd feels somewhat like a character out of Shakespeare, in that his life was viciously taken from him and that he wants revenge for said act. He’s intricate enough to strip Black Mask of his crime control and while it seems like a long shot that it would ultimately lead to luring out the Joker for help, there’s something enough of a structured revenge plan in place. While he won’t hesitate to kill anyone who gets in his way, he doesn’t like seeing kids get involved and he tries to make Gotham better (even though it’s a misguided approach).
Here, he’s everything you’ve come to expect when you think about Batman. Early on in Red Hood’s rampage, he starts to piece together the fact that this guy seems to have certain skills of his and once he finds about that he and the supposedly-deceased Jason Todd are one and the same, it rattles his brain as he tries to figure out how it’s possible that he’s back since he’s felt guilty of not being able to save him. He tries multiple times to offer Jason help as a means of personal redemption, but he never gets that chance.
What can you expect from your Psychotic Eternal that is the Joker? Because of his nature, Black Mask learns the hard way of what happens when your forced to ally yourself with him. He’s unpredictable in the sense that you don’t know what he’ll do to you if you dare team-up and let your guard down at the worst moment, his dark sense of humor delivers on some brief moments of levity, and John DiMaggio is able to turn in a unique performance in the short amount of time that he’s in. He’s controlled, yet commanding with his presence.
Poor ol’ Black Mask. He can’t have a criminal empire running since Red Hood is tearing it down with the greatest of ease and he ends trying to have the Joker take him down only to nearly end up as black as his face. He doesn’t get a chance to stand much of a presence in the film since Batman, Red Hood, and the Joker are easily able to shrug him off. I’m surprise that one of his listed powers is hypnosis-like mind-control and yet he never does that here. Overall, Black Mask is a waste here. He only exists since he was in the source material.
Finally, for being a supporting character, Nightwing holds up here. While I personally prefer him as the Barry Allen Flash from ‘Justice League: The New Frontier’, Neil Patrick Harris does turn in a good role here. He’s confident, knowledgeable, and acts as a human society connection to Batman’s inner psychosis.
Overall, this film turns in a admirably good job. It trims the fat from its source material to make it more compelling, the hero/anti-hero relationship had a duel nature to represent hero/semi-viglante and true vigilante, and the actions scenes are the highlight of this film. From chases on the road and the rooftops to fisticuffs and shoot-outs, the animation helps it to shine a lot here.
Next Time: No longer branded as ‘Public Enemies’, the World’s Finest get a visitor from beyond the stars. Will this newbie be a factor towards the better of mankind or will an opposing figure manipulate enough to woo over some raw power? All will be answered next time in “Superman/Batman: Apocalypse”.
Batman (created by by Bob Kane and Bill Finger) is owned by DC Comics.