Red Hood is in my humble opinion, the greatest character to have come out of DC in the past two decades, closely followed by that of Hush. To those unfamiliar with Red Hood’s modus operandi/ origins, STOP READING RIGHT NOW! If you are unaware of the Red Hood’s true identity or for that matter, the manner in which he first burst onto our comic book pages, I urge you to seek out the seminal Under the Hood story arc. As an avid reader of Graphic novels and comics for the better part of twenty years, Under the Hood is without a doubt, my favourite Batman story arc ever… hell of any comic book, full stop. If you have not read it, I cannot recommend it highly enough. If you have read it… go read it again, it’s insanely good.
If like me you are familiar with the Under the Hood storyline or for that matter the 2010 DC animated movie not too dissimilarly entitled, Batman: Under the Red Hood and are up to date with all things Batman, you’ll be well versed in all things Red Hood (SPOILER WARNING) A.K.A. Jason Todd. His return from the dead sent ripples throughout the entirety of the DC and completely changed the playing field for Batman and his extended family/allies. I can remember vividly reading the Under the Hood arc when it was first on comic book shelves over ten years ago, the writing and artwork captivating me month in, month out, the revelation of the Red Hood’s true identity taking me by complete surprise when it was revealed after months of expert teasing, the payoff to this day still has the ability to fill me with euphoric nostalgia.
For me, the reveal is only rivalled by the unmasking of Hush within the story arc of the same name, written by Jeph Loeb and pencilled by the brilliant Jim Lee. Thomas Elliot, Bruce’s best friend as a child growing up and fellow orphan (no thanks to his part in his own parents’ deaths) highlights Batman at his finest. As a lover of all things Batman, I believe we are truly treated to the best representation of the Dark Knight when two things are involved: family and exploring the vulnerability of a man who is essentially, an orphan in a Bat costume. Detective skills and expert combatant aside, Batman’s truest challenge is overcoming his past, most notably his failures. That said, here’s why I think its long overdue that audiences are finally afforded the opportunity to peak under the red hood and most crucially, are allowed to do so on the biggest canvas of them all… a cinema screen.
6. He has already been teased in the DCEU
Jason Todd has already appeared in both Batman V Superman and Suicide Squad, all be it via the execution of two well placed Easter Eggs. Confirmed by Warner Bros. as being the second Robin suit worn by Jason Todd on display in Batman V Superman, audiences were afforded their first salivating glimpse at one of the most infamous moments in Batman mythology.
Moreover, in Suicide Squad, a ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ tease came via the inter-title/ character bio for Harley Quinn, when located to the bottom left of the screen its states, “Accomplice to murder of Robin”. Consequently, I think it is pretty safe to assume that the Joker-inspired vandalism of Todd’s suit with that of Harley’s involvement establishes that Todd’s presence will be felt in future DCEU movies, by way of flashback and/or via the return of Todd in the guise of Red Hood.
5. “Because he’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now”
Zack Synder has talked extensively about Batman’s moral code or lack thereof, in Batman V Superman. Ben Affleck‘s portrayal in the film of a world-weary Batman, seasoned by twenty years in crime fighting and of a man plagued by the brutal murder of his former partner Robin, is a logical continuation of Batman’s story in future DCEU films. Who better to test Batman on both a mental as well as a physical level than that of his previous protégé? The ideological crossroads Bruce Wayne arrives at during the closing graveyard sequence of Batman V Superman provides an intriguing exploration into the potential reformation of Batman as well as fleshing out some of the character’s exposition.
After all, Batman actively kills in Batman V Superman. When offered the chance by Jason Todd to murder the Joker and in return, gaining Todd’s forgiveness at not having been able to save him from being murdered by the Joker, how will he proceed? As a man truly reformed, a new moral line drawn in the sand that is never to be crossed again? Or, the resurgence of a Batman who serves as judge, jury and executioner? The dilemma in itself is something I would pay handsomely for to see play out up on the big screen.
Moreover, with the death of Superman in Batman V Superman, we end the film with a Bruce who has been emotionally moved by Superman’s sacrifice and inspired by his unflinching message of hope. This however, is mired once again by Bruce’s guilt, a survivor’s guilt that he has harboured since the murder of his parents. Bruce has often stated in various comic storylines, that the death of Jason is his single biggest failure as Batman. Upon hearing the line from Bruce at Superman’s graveside, “I failed him in life. I won’t fail him in death,” one cannot help as I did but to draw similarities between Jason and Superman, a haunting sentiment that once again demonstrates Bruce’s inability to forgive himself. We have become so accustomed to seeing Batman achieve and overcome great odds, the notion of him being faced with his biggest failure and having to directly go toe to toe with it… well that’s just biblical!
4. Badass Status
Red Hood is the living embodiment of the path Batman could very easily have gone down when he first adopted the mantle of Batman. Whether in his capacity as a mob boss in Under the Hood or his current iteration in the comics as a prodigal son once again fighting by Batman’s side, the Red Hood has often served as a juxtaposing counterweight to Batman and affords audiences a chance to explore the other side of the coin, an exploration and critique of vigilante justice.
As if that wasn’t cool enough, the guy is a total badass, his flagrant disregard for using guns (a sticking point that must really annoy Batman and his moral code surrounding guns) and his ability to get the job done by any unsavoury means whatsoever, is a refreshing take for someone that Batman later considers an ally. One of his most notable moments comes via Under the Hood when he chucks a bag containing the severed heads of drug peddlers onto the table of a mob boss meeting, warning the bosses that they are to cease dealing drugs to children. Ever the skewed moral compass.
3. Friend or Foe
Todd has always been a confused and volatile character, even as early back as when Batman found him removing the wheels from the Batmobile in Crime Alley, the angry, homeless youth proving the next logical option after Dick Grayson hung up the mantle of Robin. Bruce saw a lot of himself in Todd that night, realising that if left unchecked and allowed to continue down a path of crime, he would one day most likely be the one that would have to bring Jason to justice. The Red Hood, whether friend or foe to Batman, has always presented an intriguing argument: is it ever too late to save someone’s soul? We have seen the DCEU execute such an ethical quandary brilliantly in that of Suicide Squad through characters such as Deadshot and Diablo, the notion of the anti-hero proving popular with audiences. What say we add one more to the anti-hero roster!
2. Multi-Platform Appeal
With the release of the videogame Batman: Arkham Knight, the final instalment in the enormously successful trilogy/franchise, audiences all of various ages, creeds and tastes were introduced to a version of Jason Todd. Although, within the game Todd adopted the mantle of the Arkham Knight, a playable DLC was available where gamers could play as the Red Hood. To date there has been a thin line in the DCEU between the primary and secondary audiences of Batman or more simply put between general fans of the superhero genre and diehard comic book enthusiasts familiar with Batman’s history. That said, with the introduction of Todd/the Red Hood to mass audiences, I would argue that the inclusion of the character in the DCEU would not be such as push with regards to his introduction to the cinematic universe, many now familiar with the character/having a basic grasp of the character’s background.
1. That Monologue
And if you’re not sold already, I’m just going to leave this here…
Jason Todd: “Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me. But why? Why on God’s Earth is HE still alive? Ignoring what he’s done in the past. Blindly, stupidly, disregarding the entire graveyards he’s filled, the thousands who have suffered, the friends he’s crippled. You know, I thought… I thought I’d be the last person you’d ever let him hurt. If it had been you he beat to a bloody pulp, if he had taken you from this world, I would’ve done nothing but search the planet for this pathetic pile of evil death-worshipping garbage and sent him off to Hell”.
So is it all good in the hood or does your head turn a ruby hue that would shame Red Hood’s helmet, at the mere mention of the character? As ever, let me know in the comments below or on our Twitter feed.