The Red Hood has been inching his way upward as one of DC’s more popular characters. Recently, the character has made appearances in several DC video games (including Injustice 2 and Batman: Arkham Knight), is holding his own in his solo comic book title, and is seeing a great demand by fans for a live-action appearance.
However, Red Hood has an extensive comic book history and has undergone several changes to his backstory, motivations, and even who resides under the hood. Over the years, the character has been modified in several different ways, though he is typically an antagonist to the Dark Knight himself. From gang leader to former Robin, here are 10 things to know about DC’s Red Hood.
According to DC lore, the Red Hood was originally the leader of one of the deadliest gangs in Gotham City. Rumors suggested that the true identity of the Red Hood was never actually discovered and that a body double was used whenever the Red Hood needed to make a public appearance.
As of the New 52, however, the Red Hood stood as the leader of the Red Hood Gang. Scott Snyder’s Batman: Zero Year arc tweaked the famous origin of the Dark Knight and combined a lot of popular elements from past Batman origin stories. As a result, the Red Hood Gang got a modern update and a greater foothold in Batman’s history. The ideas and concept of Red Hood as a gang leader have even made their way to shows like Gotham. Even back in the day, Red Hood was still a force to be reckoned with.
Author Alan Moore’s popular story, Batman: The Killing Joke, tells the story of a possible origin for the Caped Crusader’s most formidable opponent. In this story, the man who would eventually become the Joker dons the Red Hood costume at the request of the gang members trying to pull off a heist. Though the story itself may not even be true, it definitely does a lot to establish Red Hood and Joker lore.
Firstly, it reinforces the idea that a body double was used instead of the actual leader of the gang. Secondly, it establishes Red Hood as one of Batman’s oldest adversaries. The ideas in The Killing Joke are so popular that they are often recognized as official DC canon. Furthermore, the Joker’s involvement with the Red Hood title would help Pave the way for the next and most popular Red Hood, Jason Todd.
Jason Todd is the second person to call themselves Robin and the most popular version of the Red Hood character. After Batman catches a young Jason trying to steal the tires off of the Batmobile, he decides to take the young boy in and train him to be the next Robin. However, Jason’s behavior was often violent and unpredictable, causing many arguments between him and his mentor. This behavior would factor into Jason’s death at the hands of the Joker during the Death in the Family storyline.
This story actually saw fans vote on the fate of the character, ultimately resulting in his demise. For years, the loss of his young sidekick would haunt Batman and Jason would continually be mentioned long after Tim Drake was established as the third Robin. Even before making his return as Red Hood, Jason Todd had a grand impact in Batman’s life.
Years after his fateful end, Jason would eventually return to the land of the living in the popular story, Batman: Under the Red Hood. This story sees Batman tackle the mystery of the Red Hood’s identity following his takeover of Gotham’s underground gangs. Red Hood’s brutal nature and tactics pose a great threat to Batman, despite the fact that the Red Hood has taken some major villains off the board.
It is later revealed that the Red Hood is in fact, Jason Todd, who has come to hate Batman after refusing to kill the Joker and replacing him with Tim Drake. It is also revealed that Jason’s resurrection was brought about with the assistance of Talia Al’ Ghoul. From there, Jason set out for vengeance against Batman and donned a red hood as his means of what he considers to be justice.
Dick Grayson, the original Robin and current Nightwing, was originally supposed to die at the end of DC’s Infinite Crisis event. However, due to the character’s popularity, DC editorial decided to kill off Superboy instead at the last minute. Yet, due to the last-minute change, moves had already been made to establish Jason as the new Nightwing.
Therefore, for a short while, there were two Nightwings running around in the world of DC, with Jason of course being a far more brutal version of the character. Eventually, after realizing that he wouldn’t be able to make Dick see his side of things, Jason gave up the Nightwing mantle and returned to being Red Hood.
If stealing the role of Nightwing wasn’t enough, Jason has also tried to establish himself as Gotham’s new Batman. After Bruce Wayne was presumed dead as a result of Final Crisis, Battle For the Cowl began which saw the three main Robins compete for the mantle of Batman. Of course, Jason, believing that his methods were better than Batman’s own, sought to claim the title and clean up Gotham his way.
Thankfully, Dick Grayson and Tim Drake would both step forward to stop him. Even with the combined efforts of the two, Jason would prove to be a very formidable opponent. Regardless though, Dick Grayson would emerge victorious, leaving Jason to once again retreat to the role of Red Hood.
Due to the character’s rising popularity, Jason Todd has held quite a significant presence in other DC projects. Actor Jensen Ackels voiced the character in the animated adaptation of Under the Red Hood. Curran Waters plays a young Jason as a fresh Robin on the Titans TV series.
As mentioned previously, Red Hood has appeared in both Injustice 2 and Batman: Arkham Knight. There’s no denying that the character is growing even more popular by the day. At this rate, it is only a matter of time before he is seen in a feature film.
Jason’s best friend in the comics is none other than Green Arrow’s former sidekick, Roy Harper. As the black sheep of the Bat-family, it would make sense that Jason would gravitate toward another former sidekick with a similarly dark background. At the launch of the New 52, Jason and Roy were original members of The Outlaws alongside Starfire.
Due to certain circumstances, the two would eventually go their separate ways, though still remain close friends. Even after Roy’s death at the start of the recent Heroes in Crisis event, Jason would still carry on with fond memories of his former teammate.
Ever since being reintroduced in Under the Red Hood, Jason has gone back and forth on his moral code and fighting techniques. During the New 52, he had struck an agreement with Batman that he wouldn’t operate within the lines of Gotham City. At the start of DC Rebirth, however, Jason reluctantly agreed to try Batman’s method once again, and even operated within Gotham as part of a new group of Outlaws.
This attempt was short-lived as Jason is eventually driven to make an attempt on the Penguin’s life, breaking his fragile relationship with Batman and sending him out of Gotham once more. Nowadays, Jason is back to a slightly darker outlook on life along with his brutal methods. With the way the story is going though, it seems as though he may eventually be able to patch things up with Bruce once again.
Though Jason typically shares the spotlight with other members of the Outlaws, he is currently operating as a solo act. After Starfire and Roy went their separate ways towards the end of the New 52, Artemis and Bizzaro would join Jason as the new Outlaws. Together, the three would operate as DC’s “Dark Trinity” of sorts as they tried to infiltrate Gotham’s underground gangs.
Following an accident that left Artemis and Bizzaro stranded in another dimension, Jason has since set out to accomplish whatever he deems to be worth his time. He also traded in his signature dual pistols for a crowbar and a Katana, both of which only add to his brutality. At the moment, Jason’s future is unclear, though it is evident that Artemis and Bizzaro will eventually make a return. As Jason continues to grow as a character, his character will hopefully continue to grow in pop culture.