Monday, February 14, 2011


I just had the pleasure of watching Batman: Under the Red Hood.  It's been a while since I've watched an animated version of Batman and it made me remember my old high school days when we'd get an excellent block of superhero cartoons on Saturday nights.  As a quick disclaimer, I don't claim to be an expert on comics at all- I just watched the cartoons and learned about the comics through wikipedia.

I was a fan of Justice League (Season 1 and 2), more so the original rather than Unlimited (Season 3 and later).  Justice League featured all your favorite superheroes, Superman, Batman, and Wonderwoman, as well as Hawkgirl, Green Lantern (Jon Stewart- no not the one from Comedy Central), the Flash, and the Martian Manhunter.  I didn't watch Unlimited as much mainly b/c there were too many characters to keep track of and many episodes only featured a few of the main league members I was familiar with.  The show was fantastic- really good storylines, animation, and a kick ass theme song- all in all, they really did a good job with making things feel epic and crafting very mature stories.  Two episodes that I remember liking a lot:
  • Hereafter- where there's a big battle and everyone thinks that Superman has died except he's really been transported to the distant future where a super-villain, who's immortal, has destroyed the world and now regrets it.  I remember one of my high school teachers gushing on about this one.      
  • Wildcards- Pure entertainment.  The Joker has placed bombs in various casinos and is doing a reality show of sorts as the Justice League goes around to disarm the bombs.      
And then, of course, there were the Teen Titans, my favorite at the time and a show I still have a soft spot for.  Teen Titans featured Robin (yes, Batman's Robin) leading a team of teenage superheroes, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, and Beast Boy.   Animation-wise, it was done in an anime-ish style, but what really stood out was that it was a firmly character-centered superhero cartoon and that each character was well developed and likable.  Season 1 was probably the best overall since it had the most coherent arc, but seasons 2-3 were pretty great too.  Season 4, I watched less of, since again, they introduced many new characters and I think I'd gone off to college then so there was less time for TV.  
A few favorite episodes:

  • Masks/Apprentice: Season 1 developed an arc in which Robin was slowly becoming obsessed with the Titan's mysterious arch-enemy Slade.  Essentially a 3-part episode that everything in season 1 was leading up to.  Masks was the very first episode I watched and I remember getting hooked right then and there.  Robin, in an attempt to get closer to Slade, tricks his team, and in the end, it's his effervescent, light-hearted best friend Starfire who's firm words bring him back to reality.      
  • How Long is Forever?: During a fight, a time-traveling villain causes Starfire to go into the future, and it's a dark, dark future w/o Starfire around.   
  • Nevermore: The first episode that really focuses on Raven and fleshes her out, who's quiet and sarcastic, but generally mysterious.    
  • Haunted: One of the darkest episodes of the Teen Titans.  Robin starts seeing Slade everywhere, but no one else can.    

Which is a long winded explanation for, how I've heard a little about the various Robins.  Batman: Under the Red Hood is dark and has a lot of Nolan-esque elements.  It pushes the envelope- implied and explicit violence, and a few elements are slightly reminiscent of Dark Knight- especially this exploration of Batman's moral code and what it really means, which is always fascinating.  The Joker, while still humorous, is less the Joker from the Batman Animated Series, crazy, funny, and over-the-top, and a little more serious like Heath Ledger's Joker.  The voice-acting is generally fantastic and I actually thought that Kevin Conroy (the voice actor who usually does Batman in the cartoons) was voicing Batman in this one as well, but it was actually someone else (Bruce Greenwood).  I would have been happier if they hadn't featured the Black Mask as much, who wasn't all that interesting and just chewed up screen time.  (One question though- maybe it's b/c I'm so used to the Nolan voices but isn't it pronounced R-ah-s instead of Raz?)  Generally a good movie, although the ending left me a bit unsatisfied.

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