I’m not entirely sure why I love Jason Todd, AKA the Red Hood so much. I was too young to remember when he died and only really knew of him through the (now dated) idea, “No one stays dead in comics except Bucky Barnes, Jason Todd, and Uncle Ben.” Well, at least that’s still true of Uncle Ben! I mean, discounting alternate reality versions that have popped over to the main Marvel continuity from time to time.
Some background may be needed. Back in A Death in the Family (Batman #426-429, 1988), readers were given two 1-900 numbers to call and vote on whether they wanted Jason Todd, the second Robin, to live or die at the hands of the Joker. In the end they wanted him to die by a narrow margin, and die he did. It was the greatest failure of Batman and haunted him for decades. Also the Joker avoided being killed by a grieving Batman through diplomatic immunity granted by becoming a representative to Iran, because comics are dumb. Flash forward to the Hush arc (Batman #608-619, 2002-2003) and Jason Todd was revealed to be alive! Only it was Clayface pretending to be him, all part of a systematic attack on Batman from all sides. But writer Judd Winick wanted to do more than just a fake-out…
That’s what led to the Under the Red Hood storyline (Batman #635-641 and #645-650, 2004-2006), which the movie Batman: Under the Red Hood pretty faithfully recounts. A new figure is taking over organized crime in Gotham, annoying both villain Black Mask and hero Batman. Turns out, Jason Todd actually is alive! For real! And voiced perfectly by Supernatural star Jensen Ackles! The movie goes with the current canon resurrection method: Ra’s al Ghul, feeling remorse for having a hand in Jason’s death, tossed his corpse into the Lazarus Pit, reviving him. Gone is the original method: an alternate reality version of Superboy had a temper tantrum, pounding on the walls of the multiverse/reality that causes reverberations that fixed mistakes to the timeline. Comics are really, really dumb.
Anyway, the Joker gets dragged in and Batman is forced to face his biggest failure, a dark reflection of what he could become, and his greatest enemy. Later on Jason would be welcomed back into the so-called Bat Family–warily–but here he’s driven to seek bloody vengeance. I love Jason, I love the Red Hood, and I love this movie.
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