Batman: Under the Red Hood DVD

The next live-action Batman movie is still in limbo, but the Caped Crusader is back on screen this week in a gritty new animated adventure. In Batman: Under the Red Hood — the latest in Warner Home Videos' series of movies based on DC Comics stories — a mysterious and ruthless vigilante has shown up in Gotham City, and not even the Dark Knight is able stop him.

This violent newcomer, named for the red hood that covers his face, quickly stirs up trouble, making enemies of the city's criminals and heroes. "He seems to be working on becoming a better Batman than Batman even is — not by fighting crime, but by controlling it," says writer Judd Winick, who adapted his 2005-06 comic storyline into the screenplay.

The movie — available Tuesday on DVD, Blu-ray, digital download and on demand — features a cast that's sure to please the fanboys. Supernatural's Jensen Ackles voices the Red Hood, with Bruce Greenwood (Captain Pike in last year's Star Trek movie) as Batman, Neil Patrick Harris as Nightwing (aka Dick Grayson, the former Robin), John DiMaggio (Futurama's Bender) as the Joker and Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy in the Harry Potter films) as Ra's al Ghul.

Winick, who'd previously created and produced the animated series The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, had no problems trimming his original story — which spanned 16 issues of the Batman comic — into a 75-minute movie. "I was thrilled with what I was able to keep in, which was the emotional core of the story," he says. "I always saw the story as kind of an opera, really big and tragic and plays on many very big themes. I was most happy that the producers were not looking to shy away from that at all. They wanted to embrace the emotional core of the story."

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