[SPOILERS for the Under the Hood comic book, Under the Red Hood animated movie, and the Batman: Arkham Knight video game ahead.]
Jason Todd – who was the second Robin – was violently killed by the Joker in writer Jim Starlin and artist Jim Aparo’s comic Batman: A Death in the Family. The storyline was published in the late ’80s and Robin’s fate was determined by fan votes. The second Boy Wonder – Dick Grayson was the first – remained deceased for decades; however, in 2005, writer Judd Winick and artists Doug Mahnke, Eric Battle, and Shane Davis revealed how Jason Todd would not only return from the grave, but also take on a new identity: the Red Hood.
The alias was originally used by the Joker, but Todd’s version of Red Hood was basically an anti-villain – he was killing bad guys and attempting to take control of the criminal element because he believed it was the best way to keep the city safe. He aimed to repair Gotham City, and one thing couldn’t escape his mind: how could Bruce Wayne, a.k.a. Batman, let the Joker live, especially after the villain killed him? How many lives did the Clown Prince of Crime take after the murderous villain viciously beat him with a crowbar? To Todd, Batman’s no-kill code is foolish, and he wanted to prove it to the Dark Knight.
The Under the Hood arc – which has since been changed to Under The Red Hood – has been adapted outside of comics at least twice. Brandon Vietti directed the excellent animated movie – which was titled Batman: Under the Red Hood, and it was also written by Winick – and the video game Batman: Arkham Knight pulled a lot of inspiration from the 2005 story arc.
Now, a new rumor is claiming that a Batman solo movie inspired by Red Hood’s return to Gotham City may be heading to the big screen. The Dark Knight himself, Ben Affleck, has expressed interest in directing a Batman solo movie, and he’s allegedly co-writing it with DC’s Geoff Johns, but there’s no official word yet on when Batman’s film is expected to open in theaters. As for the possible story, the big rumor is that Jason Todd is back in Gotham, and he’s making people believe Batman’s become a villain. He’ll set his sights on Gotham’s criminal element in an attempt to pull the Dark Knight and Joker (Jared Leto) into a conflict. Additionally, word is that Dick Grayson – the first Robin – will exist as Nightwing and appear in the movie.
The Under the Hood source material does involve a large cast of characters and it incorporates the DC Comics publisher’s bigger events, while also pulling from a ton of comics history. As such, there are key elements in the story of Red Hood’s return which give it a lot of potential on the big screen – if handled properly, of course! Obviously, what follows is speculation that is based on the events in the comics, but here’s the breakdown of Why Red Hood Has Potential for a Batman Solo Movie.
Predictable Yet Powerful Reveal
Just like with Captain America: The Winter Soldier, many moviegoers would walk into the theater already knowing the identity of the “mysterious” villain in Batman’s solo movie. Will that take away from the overall quality of the story, though? To many, the answer was clearly “no” for Captain America’s sequel, and the same could definitely hold true for Jason Todd – it certainly already has in the Under the Red Hood animated movie! What truly matters in the story isn’t answering the question of who is wearing the red helmet, but instead making audiences understand why he’s wearing it and what that means to Batman. It’s not about a twist that aims to shock; it’s about telling an emotional tale.
Jason Todd is someone who wanted to be good, but a terrible event changed everything for him. Joker did something horrifying and savage to Batman’s former sidekick, and the Caped Crusader didn’t make the deranged villain pay the ultimate price for it. Todd can forgive Batman being unable to save him from Joker, but why didn’t the terrible tragedy motivate the hero to break his rule and take the Joker’s life? Batman not being driven to the point of killing Joker devastates Todd and hurts him far more than a crowbar-wielding Joker could ever hope to.
Even if a fan hated Todd as Robin, it’s difficult not to feel for the guy or appreciate just how significantly this story impacts Bruce Wayne. What is arguably one of Bruce’s biggest failures has now quite literally come back to haunt him. Can he save Todd from himself this time around, or is their dynamic destined to full be of disaster? Todd’s not completely lost and he isn’t a “true” villain, and his desire for revenge is understandable. You may not agree with his mission, but it’s not something cliche like wanting to destroy Gotham or simply kill Batman (which is another point we’ll get to).
If Jason Todd comes back from the dead in the DC Extended Universe, one big question remains: how can his return be handled? In the comic, Superboy-Prime plays a key part in this, and obviously, that’s something that wouldn’t happen in the movie – it relies on a big, cosmic event which hasn’t occurred and it would risk making the movie way too convoluted. However, the animated movie proved that Todd’s return can be simplified well by focusing on just the Lazarus Pit (which was also used in the comic) – a pool of liquid which rejuvenates a person and is regularly used by Batman’s villain Ra’s al Ghul.
Given the fact Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins played a pivotal role in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy (in which they’re called the League of Shadows) and that organization – as well as Ra’s al Ghul himself – played a big part in The CW show Arrow as well, odds are that WB/DC wouldn’t want to make Ra’s al Ghul and his followers the focal point again for viewers in the DCEU just yet. However, including him doesn’t automatically mean he’s an enormous player in the DCEU, or that the film needs to explore the origin of the League of Assassins. Just like the animated Under the Red Hood movie, his incorporation could be minimal, primarily existing as the device to restore Todd’s life. Through some well-written exposition, this could offer a huge amount of fan service as it hints at a past between Talia al Ghul (therefore making fans speculate about the existence of Damian Wayne) and reveals that yes, Ra’s al Ghul and the League of Assassins are yet another part of the evergrowing DCEU.
Their inclusion doesn’t mean there are big plans for Ra’s and Talia in the near future, but it does it does open the door to them potentially being featured – or at least included – eventually. After all, in Arkham Knight, Joker doesn’t kill Todd – he just makes Batman think he did. Enduring such extreme torture for so long at the hands of the Joker puts Todd on the path to becoming Red Hood. If the studio doesn’t want to delve too deep into Batman’s mythos in the film by using the Lazarus Pit, something more along the lines of this story would be a suitable alternative.
The Red Hood comic book is full of exciting battles – battles which highlight what makes Batman so formidable. Want to see Wayne unleash in an intense hand-to-hand encounter? Winick’s story has that. Want to see Batman using his brilliant tactics and equipment to take down more physically powerful threats? The comic has that, too. What about watching the Red Hood flip around and blast two pistols at his enemies? The comic’s got you covered. And do you want to see Batman and Nightwing working side by side, using stunning teamwork to defeat a big challenge? The comic absolutely has that, and that has the chance to be brilliant on the big screen!
Even if the studio doesn’t want to use some of the characters in the Red Hood comic (we’ll discuss possible substitutes shortly), that doesn’t take away from the fact that this story includes plenty of gripping and fun action sequences, and that’s something that – if properly choreographed and filmed – could really help make the movie more entertaining. Not only will this mystery highlight Batman’s strengths as a detective while he works to discover whether or not it truly is Jason he’s facing, but it will also showcase why he’s such an imposing combatant. Not many can go toe-to-toe with Batman, and this movie has the chance to make the general public fully understand that.
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