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DC Animated: The Dark Knight Returns is Overrated, and Under the Red Hood is a Superior Film.

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I recently watched Under the Red Hood recently, and despite TDKR being the film that got me into animated movies, I found Red Hood to be a better film. I should point out Iíve not read the comics both are based on, them being Frank Millerís The Dark Knight Returns, A Death in the Family, and Under the Hood. Iíll also be treating the two TDKR parts as one block.

If the continuity doesnít make any sense between the two films with Batman retiring for 10 years after Jasons death, and the events of Red Hood never happening in TDKR, and Batman instead not retiring in the five years between Jasons death and return in UTRH, blame DC.

+ iconic visuals
+ soundtrack
- meandering plot
- art style
- pacing

The Dark Knight Returns is essentially a gritty story of an old, retired Bruce Wayne who is called on to return to his role as the Batman after a 10 year hiatus since Jason Toddís death. This is the interpretation of the character the DCEU employs with Ben Affleck, from the stylisation to his age.

When I say the visuals are iconic but I donít like the art style, I mean moments such as Batman diving past a lightning bolt are iconic character moments, but the art style of the bat emblem, rectangular jaw and short ears on the cowl donít appeal to me. The plot seemed to go from one place to another without a meaningful end in sight. I donít like the new Robin, because I would have preferred a focus on Batman alone, and it was just hard to suspend my disbelief when this kid off the street is a ready made crime-fighter from day one. I didnít like the invented future slang of this Gotham either, which didnít seem to translate well to the big screen.

One thing this movie does better is how it treats the Joker, who is genuinely disturbing in his appearances. He gasses an entire studio, indiscriminately shoots innocent crowds, and eventually kills himself. Heís an easy villain to hate. Despite the Joker, the second part is the inferior film of the two parts. The plot seemed to have a tacked-on third act about Superman being tasked with taking down Batman, with the two having a climactic battle. While cool, it felt like it had been forced in there to me. Yes this is due to the source material, but itís still a weakness to the film for me.

+ my boi Nightwing
+ tight storytelling
+ casting
+ emotional payoff
- short

The movie begins with Jason Todd - the second Robin - dying at the hands of the Joker. Flash forward 5 years, and thereís a new vigilante in Gotham taking on the drug trade by lethal and brutal force. It turns out this is Jason Todd, now going by ĎRed Hoodí, and is trying to prove himself better than batman using his own lethal methods. The main theme of the movie is whether lethal force is justified in the fight against crime. Batmanís no-killing rule is stretched to breaking point in the course of 76 minutes. I said it was short.

The fight scenes were better than The Dark Knight Returns in my opinion, they felt more visceral and violent which brought home just how fine the line between Bruce and Jason is. Another reason I like this film is the mere presence of Nightwing aka Dick Grayson, the first Boy Wonder. This was a more emotional film, with the entire movie building to a nostalgic emotional payoff at the very end which I wonít spoil. I also thought Bruce Greenwood did a much better job voicing the Batman than Peter Weller did in TDKR.

Both films are worth seeing if youíre a Batman fan, but if I had to rank them, The Dark Knight Returns is an 8/10 in my eyes, but Red Hood is an 8.5/10.