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Who Is the Red Hood and Why Does Everyone Want To Get Under Him?

Jason Todd as the Red Hood in DC Comics.

Titans season 3 is out, and with big changes happening in the DC Universe (along with a clever nod in The Batman), everybody wants to know more about this Red Hood guy. Specifically, they wanna get under him. Why? Is he just that sexy? Is he the Owen Gray of the DCU? What is it about him? Is it his muscly, spandex-covered body? His mysterious aura? Or is it that his hood is a lip-bite inducing shade of red that makes everyone want to lie back and think of Gotham? I don’t understand. Where is all this thirst coming from? Or is it thirst at all? Maybe I just misunderstood the phrase “Under the Red Hood,” and now my dirty mind is running wild and there’s nothing I can do to stop it?

Or maybe he is that sexy after all.

Who is the Red Hood?

Most people (myself included) were introduced to the Red Hood when the animated movie Batman: Under the Red Hood was released. That was ancient history. A distant time known as 2010. Back when Trump was still just a TV personality and the COVID-19 pandemic was a glint in God’s eye. I don’t really remember the plot of the movie. If you don’t either, that’s okay. A lot has happened since then—a lot of things that we’d much rather forget.

So originally the Red Hood appeared in Detective Comics #168 as the former alias of the Joker, back when he was an unsuccessful schmuck and not the criminal mastermind he is today. He wore a silly-looking red dome on his head and a cheap tuxedo. He had the bright idea to rob a playing card factory (because playing card factories are where the money is?) and he ended up falling into a vat of chemicals while trying to run away from the Dark Knight himself. He was driven insane by the accident and now flash-boom-bang he’s the killer clown himself. The Joker later dons the Red Hood costume when another criminal attempts to use the identity BUT—

This is not the Red Hood we’re talking about.

The Red Hood who appears in the trailer for Titans is the arguably more famous version of this character: Jason Todd. “But wait,” you say, “isn’t Jason Todd one of the Robins? And isn’t that Robin dead?” Yes and yes. Jason Todd was the second Robin, after Dick Grayson graduated from “boy wonder” status and became Nightwing. This Jason Todd served Batman for a time before he was brutally murdered by the Joker in Batman: A Death in the Family. Joker beat him to death with a crowbar. Yikes. Like many comic book heroes, Jason Todd was resurrected in order to make the franchise more money—I mean, give the franchise an exciting new story to tell.

Jason Todd was resurrected in a Lazarus pit by Batman’s former mentor Ra’s al Ghul. However, while Jason Todd’s body is alive and kicking, the boy that Jason Todd was is dead forever. The new Jason Todd comes back from the dead fundamentally changed. He is darker and more brooding (probably because he’s still pissed about how he died), and he adopts the persona of the Red Hood to cement his emotional makeover. The Red Hood is essentially an anti-hero (not unlike Batman himself) motivated by his desire to avenge the people who wronged him. He goes about this by beating the crap out of the Joker with a crowbar of his own, and waging a war against the criminal mastermind Black Mask. Jason vows to rid the city of corruption like his predecessor, but takes a “the end justifies the means” approach. He’s far less forgiving with criminals than Batman is (and that guy isn’t exactly Saint Theresa) and doesn’t care who he hurts—or even kills—in order to cleanse Gotham of crime. Needless to say, his emo boy antics attract the attention of Emo Man—I mean, Batman, and things get physical. Not in an “Under the Red Hood” way (ew), but in a “Put the Red Hood Under” way.

What are the Red Hood’s powers?

Like Batman, he doesn’t have any. I mean, the only super-powered thing about Red Hood is that he came back from the dead. But that is pretty super when you think about it. Aside from that, he has all the martial arts abilities of Batman because Batman personally trained him. He also possesses Batman’s strategic and critical thinking skills, and is a formidable tactician. Red Hood has a utility belt’s worth of gadgets and gizmos that he uses for Batman-level infiltration and ass-kickings. He also possesses something that Batman doesn’t have: Guns. A lot of guns. Unlike Batman, the Red Hood has zero scruples about using guns in combat, and equally has zero scruples if he kills a few criminals while doing it. In Batman and Robin by Grant Morrison and Phillip Tan, Red Hood also recruits a sidekick named Scarlet who shares his ambivalence towards preserving human life. He and Scarlet use their combined tactical prowess to kill anyone who gets in their way, including police. Batman isn’t too happy about it.

What is the Red Hood doing in Titans?

In Titans, Red Hood’s story differs a bit from the original source material. He gets tortured by Deathstroke and the Joker, but the latter is the one who kills him off “for good.” He is brought back to life via the Lazarus pit, but falls into the hands of Dr. Crane (a.k.a. Scarecrow) soon after. Crane doses Jason with a form of his famous fear toxin that takes away his fear (along with almost all the rest of his emotions). Jason then embarks on his emo boy revenge quest. He starts out small by hunting down a man who pistol-whipped him in front of his friend Molly (this kid just can’t catch a break), but I’m sure he will soon graduate to frying bigger fish. Judging by the source material, I’d wager it’s only gonna get darker from here. As for the Red Hood’s sex appeal and general “get under-ness,” I’ll leave that up to the viewer to decide. Stay away from this bad boy, babes. None of us can fix him.

Will Red Hood be in The Batman sequel?

Unclear! There was a reference to Red Hood in Matt Reeves’ The Batman: In the opening scene, the ill-fated Mayor Mitchell’s son is seen getting ready to go trick-or-treating on Halloween—and he’s wearing a red ninja suit with a red hood. It could be a brief nod to the character, or—as some have speculated—Reeves is setting up a Red Hood story that might continue in The Batman 2. Mayor Mitchell’s son does appear in a few different scenes in The Batman, which establishes a tragic connection between him and Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne. Is there something there? Still: Unclear!

(featured image: DC comics)

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