BATMAN: HUSH is a thrilling mystery of action, intrigue, and deception based on the New York Times bestseller of the same name penned by Jeph Loeb (Batman: The Long Halloween) and illustrated by comics superstar Jim Lee (All Star Batman & Robin, The Boy Wonder). Batman sets out to discover the identity of a mysterious mastermind using the Joker, Riddler, Ra’s al Ghul, and the Dark Knight’s other enemies and allies as pawns in a plan to wreak havoc.
With the latest feature from WB/DC shows once again the studio is currently better suited for “adult” cartoons than it is live-action feature films. Batman: Hush is a thrilling movie that’s not intended for younger audiences but should appeal to middle aged comic book nerds everywhere.
The story is based on the 2003 comic novel of the same name written by Jim Lee and Jeph Loeb. Even for casual fans of the Dark Knight the comic should be required reading as its one of the best in the last 20 years. However, fans should note that Batman: Hush the film strays pretty far from the source material (for better or worse).
A Unique Villain for Batman
The story in both cases takes place after events of Death in the Family (a pinnacle Batman story where the Joker kills Robin #2 aka Jason Todd). It’s necessarily essential that viewers know this or understand all the ramifications of the Death in the Family story to appreciate Hush. But those who are familiar will appreciate some of the film’s complex subplots a bit more.
Hush is a mysterious new villain who torments Batman by using some of Gotham’s worst villains to do his bidding. Some of this is through mind control (thanks to Poison Ivy) and others through good old fashioned blackmail.
To complicate matters, Hush is able to anticipate Batman’s every move and always seems to be one step ahead of him. Moreover, the mysterious villain also knows Batman’s most trusted secret — his true identity.
Big Cast of Heroes and Villains
The film brings a big assortment of both heroes and villains into the fray. Appearances are made by Nightwing/Dick Grayson, Batgirl, Superman, Lois Lane and even that notorious bad seed Damian Wayne. And Batman faces off against the whole toy box of Gotham’s worst with the Joker, Bane, Poison Ivy, Penguin, the Riddler, Clayface and Harley Quinn.
But it’s the dynamic between Batman and Catwoman/Selina Kyle that drives a lot of the underlying tension. The question of will they or won’t they hook up is answered about midway through and the complications that follow are more adult soap opera than some will be used to seeing in an animated film.
Again, this is not a movie for your kids … it’s aimed at the adult children who long for a more mature Batman film. The kind we should have already received in live action form but let’s not go there …
What Others Are Saying
If you read any other online reviews or check the film’s scores (Amazon, etc.) you’ll likely see a somewhat lukewarm reception. In large part that’s not due to the quality of the film … the animated is tight, the voice acting is solid and the story pacing is just about right.
The biggest gripes being had by spoiled fanboys everywhere comes down to two issues: (1) the amount of time the film spends dealing with the Batman/Bruce Wayne and Catwoman/Selina Kyle relationship and (2) a major change to Hush’s real identity.
For my two cents, I didn’t mind all the sappy love stuff with Selina and Bruce. You can’t very well have an “adult” animated film if you don’t deal with adult issues — sorry fanboy, that means really world emotions!
Without it all you get is extra blood on the violence and swearing by some of your most recognizable characters (which by the way, I found distracting in many cases). The drama of people issues … like love, commitment and priorities … is what makes Batman a three-dimensional character with a real arc and not just an illustration on some cheap paper.
Granted there are other ways to find adult drama without diving deep into the complexities of love, but that’s where director Justin Copeland decided to take it. It might be worth noting that this is Copeland’s first feature film as director and one can only hope the unfair criticisms of the fanboy faithful doesn’t derail his bright future.
On the issue of Hush’s real identity, I agree with the criticism that the original source material was much better. I’m not exactly sure why the change was made (whether it was purely a creative choice or dictated from WB/DC higher ups) but the end effect wasn’t nearly as powerful.
There is some mystery and a few twists, but the reveal on Hush was a letdown for me (maybe audience members who haven’t read the comic novel will see it different).
Nevertheless, Batman: Hush is still one of the more compelling adventures of The Dark Knight and one of WB/DC’s best Batman films of the past several years.
Batman: Hush is now available on digital video, DVD and Blu-Ray
CAST | Jason O’Mara (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Jennifer Morrison (Selina Kyle/Catwoman), Geoffrey Arend (The Riddler), Chris Cox (Scarecrow), Jerry O’Connell (Superman/Clark Kent) and Rebecca Romijn (Lois Lane).
DIRECTED BY | Justin Copeland
Originally published at https://blueharvestfilms.com on August 12, 2019.