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Movie Review Monday

Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010)

The 3 year old is really into superheroes right now, so anything with Batman, Superman, or Spiderman, he wants to watch. Especially Batman. This was on our Netflix queue, so I clicked on it. I think I may have had rose-colored glasses on for a long time because I do not remember superhero cartoons being that violent. Granted, it was rated PG-13, but wow. Luckily, the 3 year old doesn't get the violence, so it didn't bother him.

The film opens with Joker beating the ever-loving crap out of the new Robin with a crowbar. It isn't overly graphic, but the audience gets the message. Then, he blows him up. There's even a scene where the Joker is pouring gas on people and throws in a lighter. I know I probably shouldn't be surprised, after all I've read, the Joker is a maniacal evil man who has no concept of right/wrong or restraint. Perhaps if I had read the comic books it would give more insight.

It got me to thinking about the whole superhero cult and how they are portrayed. After all, a TON of new superhero movies have come out and will be coming out. Normally, these films show how the hero becomes the hero and then they face off against some nemesis. They usually always win, and there might be some peril, the hero getting hurt, but he always triumphs. The thing that really stuck with me with this cartoon was the amount of damage the Joker inflicted. Not only did he kill Robin, he scarred Batman, made him feel like a failure. Yet, because Batman is a hero, he continued to do his job. I suppose it was the realness of the whole situation that affected me. In most films, the superhero tries to find a balance between their super life and their regular life, and that is their only dilemma (with the exception of the last Batman when the girl gets blown up, that kind of messes him up a little). I think the major reason for this is because audiences don't want to see heroes with conflict, they want to see them kick butt and defend the American way (I know I do. Remember my blog on Iron Man 2?). But this, this was just crazy. The sense of loss and failure was incredibly pervasive.

I also think cartoons allow the creator a different platform. They aren't really created for mass market consumption (most of them go straight to DVD), so they can explore the seedier side of hero life. I think they also more closely follow the actual comic book scripts, but since I haven't read them, I don't really know.

I missed bits and pieces of the movie because I was trying to work, but it was a good film otherwise. I'm sure we will be watching it again, several hundred times, so I'll get my fill.