Hood (Thunderbirds)

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The Hood
Thunderbirds character
TheHood.jpg
First appearance "Trapped in the Sky"
Last appearance Thunderbirds
Created by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson
Portrayed by Ray Barrett (1965–66; voice only)
Gary Files (1968; voice only)
Malachi Throne (1994; voice only)
Ben Kingsley (2004)
Andres Williams (2015; voice only)
Information
Full name Bela Gaat (Highway To Disaster - Thunderbids The Comic #65)
Bela Ghat (
Countdown To Action!)
Trangh Belagant (Thunderbirds)
Aliases Agent 79 ("Martian Invasion")
671 ("Edge of Impact")
Occupation Criminal and terrorist
Family Kyrano (half-brother)
Tin-Tin Kyrano (half-niece)
Nationality Malaysian

The Hood is the main villain and adversary of International Rescue in the Thunderbirds TV series.

Background[edit]

The name "Hood" was derived from the term "hoodlum"; Gerry Anderson also observed that the character was frequently masked, and that a mask "could be described as a 'hood'."[1] Sylvia Anderson acknowledges that the Hood's appearances became less regular towards the end of the series (the character is absent from the six episodes of Series Two), explaining that, like Kyrano, the character "turned out to be less viable on the screen than on the page."[2] To strengthen the character's antagonistic appearance, the Supermarionation puppet was fitted with an over-sized head and hands.[3]

Appearances[edit]

TV series[edit]

The Hood's precise origins are unknown. While it is known that he is the half-brother of Kyrano, the precise details of their relationship – such as which parent they share or which of them is the elder – remain a mystery, as does the origin of his mysterious hypnotic powers. Even his real name remains a mystery; throughout the TV series, he is only ever referred to as "Agent Seven-Nine", and this codename is used on one occasion only (when he is working for "General X", a military officer from an unspecified eastern European country). The name "The Hood" is never used in the TV episodes; instead, it was revealed in spin-off media and tie-in promotional materials.

What is known for certain about the Hood is that he possesses a significant reputation among the less ethical groups of the world, as he has been shown to be in contact with spy agencies and militaries seeking information or for a target to be eliminated, such as in the episode "Edge of Impact", in which when he is hired by a general to sabotage the Red Arrow program as it was a threat to his work. He regularly spends his time in an Aztec-themed temple in the heart of a Malaysian jungle,[4] which features a statue of Kyrano that he regularly stands in front of when communicating with his brother, as well as other high-tech equipment that he uses to monitor his enemies and prepare his plans.

However, his driving goal is to discover the secrets of the Thunderbirds machines and use them for his own goals. To this end he has been known to create several disasters in an attempt to photograph their machines in action, such as sabotaging the Fireflash's maiden flight by planting a bomb, causing actors for a film to be trapped in a cave, or attempting to sneak a miniature camera in the form of a mouse into Thunderbird 2 after triggering a nuclear reactor meltdown. However, these plans invariably failed, either through direct intervention on the part of International Rescue and their agents or through his own mistakes; for example, when he sent the mouse-like camera into Thunderbird 2, its program (to photograph movement) caused it to instead photograph the screaming Lady Penelope, who had wanted to see the Tracy brothers in action and thus accompanied Virgil, rather than Thunderbird 2's controls.

Although capable of coming up with sophisticated plans- many of which showed little to no regard for the innocent people, setting up several high-stakes rescue missions without any sign of concern for those who would be endangered in the process so long as he got what he wanted-, the Hood was commonly shown to have a short temper and be very poor at improvisation when his schemes didn't work out the way he had planned. On one occasion when he actually managed to obtain footage of Thunderbirds 1 and 2 in action, the subsequent pursuit after they learned someone had been filming them culminated in the Hood stealing a plane with engine trouble that he had no idea how to fly resulting in the plane crashing and the film being destroyed, reflecting his inability to consider alternative plans if his original one failed. His arrogance is also a noteworthy handicap; when attempting to escape the scene after his sabotage of the Red Arrow project was uncovered, he crashed through a roadblock assuming that it had been erected to stop him, only to realise too late that it had actually been to stop people from driving over a damaged bridge.

Although he and the team never came face-to-face in the series – save for when he hypnotised and tortured Brains to learn the location of a lost treasure – the Tracy brothers were nevertheless aware of his existence. Having thwarted his plan in Martian Invasion, Virgil commented that he was convinced that "Studt" (the Hood's alias at the time) was the same person who'd been after them since they first began the rescue business, with Scott agreeing with the assessment but nevertheless confident that they would one day capture him.

In the first feature film, Thunderbirds Are Go, the Hood was unmasked and exposed by Scott as attempting to infiltrate the new Zero-X spaceship, having unintentionally sabotaged the original one two years previously while attempting to photograph it. His helicopter was shot down by Lady Penelope during his escape and he was subsequently assumed to have perished, although many fans note that the Hood had faced such seemingly certain-death situations before and always survived.

In the second feature film, Thunderbird 6, there is a villain known only as "Black Phantom". There has been an ongoing debate as to whether this is actually the Hood or not. The marionette that plays "Black Phantom" is that of the Hood, but with hair. This could be the Hood in disguise and "Black Phantom" maybe another alias. His voice however is different (due to voice actor Gary Files replacing Ray Barrett). On the Thunderbird 6 DVD commentary, director David Lane jokes that "Black Phantom" is the "son of the Hood". When Thunderbirds 1 and 2 open fire and destroy the Hood's hideout, which is a disused airfield near Casablanca in Morocco, it is unclear whether he survives this or not.

Comics[edit]

During his appearances in the comics, the Hood's plans became even more daring, with some plots even seeing him coming into direct contact with the Tracy family. On one particularly memorable occasion he attempted to expose International Rescue's location by bombing Thunderbird 2's hangar, forcing Virgil to move the craft onto the runway where he subsequently took photographs of the vessel. During the subsequent cover-up attempt – claiming that Tracy Island was simply a theme park based on International Rescue, Thunderbirds 1 and 2 were sent into space with Thunderbird 5 while Lady Penelope and Parker staged a rescue, the intention being for the Thunderbirds to arrive at the scene and thus confirm that they hadn't come from Tracy Island – the Hood managed to infiltrate the island, nearly hypnotising John and Brains, but was captured and had the last week or so of his memory erased to preserve the Tracy family's secret.

On another occasion he managed to capture Brains by faking his death to use his genius to launch a direct assault on Tracy Island, but Gordon was able to track and rescue Brains in time to thwart the Hood's last attack, subsequently capturing the Hood and erasing his memory again.

Another occasion featured him setting up three satellites that allowed him to take control of Thunderbirds 1 and 2 via remote, but Thunderbird 1 was able to escape his control and Thunderbird 3 subsequently destroyed one of the satellites and ruined the network when he attempted to do the same to Thunderbird 2. A later plan featured him hypnotising Kyrano to ask him to come to Tracy Island, but the Tracy's security measures proved sufficient for them to realise what he was up to and halt his attempts to access the Thunderbird hangars.

2004 film[edit]

In the live-action film Thunderbirds, where he was portrayed by Ben Kingsley, the Hood's actions against International Rescue were far more direct; having tracked them to Tracy Island, he trapped Jeff Tracy and the four eldest brothers on Thunderbird 5 with a missile attack, subsequently proceeding to steal Thunderbird 2 and the Mole and use them in an attempt to rob the Bank of England. The nature of his powers also changed; while he no longer appeared to possess his hypnotic powers, he now possessed powerful telekinetic abilities, although over-use of this power weakened him.

It was revealed during the film that these powers apparently activated after the Hood was left for dead during one of International Rescue's first missions; the Hood accuses Jeff Tracy of leaving him to die, but Jeff later tells Alan that, at the time, he left the Hood because he could see no way to save him that wouldn't kill them both. Despite what the Hood had done to him and his family, however, when faced with the chance to let the Hood fall into the Mole's drilling mechanisms, Alan instead saved him when the Hood was weakened by over-use of his powers, subsequently allowing him to be captured.

Furthermore in the film he's actually called the Hood, with Parker pointing out "Sounds like an alias, milady." and Lady Penelope saying his real name is Trangh Belagant. This is also in sharp contrast with the original series as he is never named on-screen by either his alias or real name. This might be a nod towards the original series, because by pointing out both names, the mystery of never revealing his name is finally solved. In the film both he himself and the other characters refer to him by his alias "the Hood".

Powers and abilities[edit]

TV series and comics[edit]

Throughout the series, the Hood was shown to be a master of disguise, using various masks to try and discover the secrets of the Thunderbirds machines and carry out various missions. He also possessed strange hypnotic powers of unknown origin, although these abilities were apparently limited to making people carry out simple commands, such as to follow him or put them to sleep. He was also apparently unable to use these powers to acquire information; on one occasion he attempted to force Brains to tell him the location of a lost treasure by burying him up to his neck in sand and sunlight and depriving him of water rather than simply hypnotising him to learn the answer, suggesting that he cannot make people tell him information but simply make them carry out certain actions.

The only exception to this ability has been when he hypnotises Kyrano, as he was able to make Kyrano tell him such information as when International Rescue would be ready to start operating or where the organisation's headquarters was located. These abilities were apparently aided by a statue of Kyrano he had in his temple, as he always stood in front of it when making contact with his brother. He was also able to implant post-hypnotic suggestions to make Kyrano carry out certain actions when the Hood was no longer in direct 'contact' with him, such as when he had Kyrano disable the automatic camera detectors prior to the rescue in Martian Invasion so that he could photograph the Thunderbirds without them knowing. Although these hypnotic attacks always have a significant effect on Kyrano, causing him to collapse to the ground in pain before he is finally forced to reveal the information the Hood seeks, it would appear that Kyrano is not consciously aware of these assaults, as he always passes them off as mere 'dizzy spells' in their aftermath despite his otherwise unquestionable loyalty to Jeff Tracy.

Film[edit]

In the film, the Hood's abilities were changed to telekinesis, allowing him to levitate himself and move objects, although his temporary control of Lady Penelope and Parker's bodies when they attempted to rescue the Tracys suggests that he retained at least some of his old hypnotic powers. However, over-use of these abilities weakened him, and—in a marked contrast to the series—his niece Tin-Tin (Vanessa Hudgens) was also shown to possess these abilities, although she only ever used them to help her friends; she even managed to overpower her uncle in a duel, although he had been weakened by over-using his powers while fighting Alan.

Reception[edit]

Cultural historian Nicholas J. Cull likens the Hood to "an evil version of Yul Brynner [as the King of Siam] in The King and I".[5] Science-fiction writer John Peel argues that the character marks a progression from the "silly, stereotyped" and "comic-relief" villains of previous Supermarionation series, including Supercar, Fireball XL5 and Stingray: "Most of his appearances were quite serious, and he was lethally rather than comically inclined."[6] On his characterisation, Jonathan Bignell notes that the Hood's villainy transcends geopolitical schisms: his Far Eastern appearance and exotic powers "associated him with James Bond villains of the period, and pervasive fears of China as a 'third force' antagonistic to the West."[7]

Ben Kingsley's portrayal of the Hood in the 2004 live-action film has attracted a mixed critical response. Glenn Erickson of the review website DVD Talk writes that Kingsley's role is played "with complete actorly overkill", and considers the characterisation similar to that of a clichéd, "evil baddie", commenting: "Why the Hood persists in being so wrong can only be chalked up to time-honoured Bad Guy logic."[8] He expresses the view that the writing of the Hood – among other characters, including his relations Kyrano and Tin-Tin – incorporates ethnic stereotyping, citing for example the "inscrutable Oriental wizardry" of the villain and his half-niece (both of whom possess hypnotic powers).[8] Alex Hewison of The Digital Fix describes the actor as "bored-looking" and his performance as "flat and dull, as though the ignominy of having to wear a red kimono and ridiculous face paint was enough to send him into a semi-catatonic state of weary indifference."[9] By contrast, Dennis Prince of DVD Verdict writes that Kingsley is "simply excellent, devouring the role of the wicked yet dryly witty criminal mastermind, providing a hiss-worthy baddie who never becomes too evil".[10] Philip Tibbetts of Den of Geek argues that while some aspects of the film are "frustratingly infantile", and Kingsley himself "hams it up on occasion, too", the actor nevertheless "manages to restore some menace to proceedings".[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Archer, Simon; Hearn, Marcus (2002). What Made Thunderbirds Go! The Authorised Biography of Gerry Anderson. London: BBC Books. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-563-53481-5. 
  2. ^ Anderson, Sylvia (2007). Sylvia Anderson: My Fab Years!. Neshannock, Pennsylvania: Hermes Press. p. 33. ISBN 978-1-932563-91-7. 
  3. ^ Archer, Simon (2004) [1993]. Gerry Anderson's FAB Facts: Behind the Scenes of TV's Famous Adventures in the 21st Century. London: HarperCollins. p. 39. ISBN 978-0-00-638247-8. 
  4. ^ Gerry Anderson obituary
  5. ^ Cull, Nicholas J. (August 2006). "Was Captain Black Really Red? The TV Science Fiction of Gerry Anderson in its Cold War Context". Media History (Routledge) 12 (2): 197. doi:10.1080/13688800600808005. ISSN 1368-8804. OCLC 364457089. 
  6. ^ Peel, John (1993). Thunderbirds, Stingray, Captain Scarlet: The Authorised Programme Guide. London: Virgin Books. p. 242. ISBN 978-0-86369-728-9. 
  7. ^ Bignell, Jonathan (2011). "'Anything Can Happen in the Next Half-Hour': Gerry Anderson's Transnational Science Fiction". In Hochscherf, Tobias. British Science Fiction Film and Television: Critical Essays. Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy 29. Leggott, James (ed.). North Carolina: McFarland & Company. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-7864-8483-6. 
  8. ^ a b Erickson, Glenn (30 December 2004). "DVD Savant Review: Thunderbirds". DVD Talk. Internet Brands. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  9. ^ Hewison, Alex (9 November 2004). "Thunderbirds DVD Video Review". The Digital Fix. Poisonous Monkey. Archived from the original on 27 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  10. ^ Prince, Dennis (11 January 2005). "DVD Verdict Review – Thunderbirds". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 27 January 2014. 
  11. ^ Tibbetts, Philip (10 October 2013). "Looking Back at the 2004 Thunderbirds Movie". Den of Geek. Dennis Publishing. Archived from the original on 17 January 2014. Retrieved 17 January 2014. 

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