When it comes to Batman: Hush, you could say I’ve waited years for it to be adapted to a movie – because I have. It goes without saying that every fan of the Caped Crusader who reads comics has a favorite storyline to call their own, and mine is the classic written by Jeph Loeb and illustrated by Jim Lee. Finally, the talented folks developing these DC animated films were given the green light to bring it to life.
If I had to say why I loved the comic so much, it’s probably because it was a riveting mystery that simultaneously functioned as an entry level story you could hand to anybody in order to school them on Batman’s world. Pretty much all of his top-tier supporting characters and villains were present, so it was kind of an encyclopedia with a narrative. Plus, it took the Batman-Catwoman romance to the next level, which I’ll touch on shortly.
It’s at this point you’re probably wondering if the direct-to-video counterpart can do the same thing, and it can to a certain degree. If you pop this baby into your Blu-ray player, you’ll indeed be greeted by a wide array of heroes and villains populating Gotham City. But since there’s no internal monologue like in the comic, you’re not going to get as much in the way of backstory; this more so seems tailor-made for seasoned Bat-fans. If you’d like for a movie to serve as a newbie’s gateway to the Dark Knight, I’d still recommend sitting them down for a showing of either Batman ’89 or Batman Begins.
Even though the source material is damn near close to being holy writ for me, I’m not someone who expects for everything to make it to screen. As a realist, I knew there was no way to cram the entirety of a 12-issue arc into an 82-minute flick. For the most part, the finer points survived, though there were numerous deviations.
The reason the filmmakers veered left of what was on the printed page in many cases was because Hush does fall in line with the New 52-inspired timeline stemming from Son of Batman. Speaking of which, that offering had an encounter with Killer Croc very similar to what was seen in the Hush comic, therefore he’s swapped out for Bane (Adam Gifford) this time around. This was a creative move I completely understood.
Other instances of this included Batgirl (Peyton List) standing in for Huntress, and Lady Shiva (Sachie Alessio) taking the place of Ra’s al Ghul and Talia because, well, they’re already dead in this continuity. And since Tim Drake’s never been introduced in this universe, expect for a very humorous Damian Wayne (Stuart Allan) cameo.
Still, most of the iconic story beats remain. Trust me, you’ll be treated to a fight between Batman (Jason O’Mara) and Superman (Jerry O’Connell), the latter of which is controlled by Poison Ivy. Believe it or not, Ivy’s voiced by Peyton List, who played her on Fox’s Gotham, though she’s not the same Peyton List voicing Batgirl. Yeah, they’re two different actresses. Also, the pivotal opera scene with Harley Quinn (Hynden Walch) is intact.
Like I hinted at earlier, the romance involving Batman and Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison) is front and center, even more so than it was in the comic. Here, they actually move in together after Bruce Wayne pulls back his cowl and, yes, they totally do it. Fans of this pairing will absolutely eat up their shared scenes.
Now, what’s going to be very controversial is the major change made to Hush himself. I don’t want to spoil everything outright, but I’ll just say that it’d be like watching Under the Red Hood only to find out that the Red Hood isn’t Jason Todd. I watched the commentary track to better understand why the filmmakers made such an earth-shattering decision, as I guess they wanted to surprise 100% of the viewing audience.
As you may have figured, I was highly indifferent when it came to the the big reveal, though it didn’t ruin the movie for me. On the contrary, the narrative is quite smooth and I’ll probably watch this a million times. Regardless, this isn’t like changing Jack the Ripper’s identity in Gotham by Gaslight because, well, not many people were going to care about that unmasking. But since Hush was originally published, Tommy Elliott has established himself as a recurring, big picture villain in Batman’s world. To disregard that here left somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth.
I don’t know about you, but I think it’s time the people putting these animated movies together stop worrying about so many of them being in continuity with each other. For the most part, the consumers who buy them all probably read the source material, so why not make more standalone pictures when you’re going to adapt the most beloved tales? It worked for Year One and The Dark Knight Returns, but this situation is more comparable to The Death of Superman. If The Long Halloween is on the docket, they dare not put a new spin on it.
Moving on to the bonus content, those of you who dug the DC Showcase shorts should be thrilled to know they’ve made a comeback. Included alongside the feature presentation is Sgt. Rock, with Karl Urban voicing the titular character. It was well-done, yes, but it seems like nothing can get me interested in Sgt. Rock himself. Sorry, but that’s just me.
Other supplemental material to be found includes a first look at Wonder Woman: Bloodlines that you absolutely must see, as well as a “Batman: Love in Time of War” featurette that examines his decades-old relationship with Catwoman. And to complement that, “Catwalk” from Batman: The Animated Series is thrown in for good measure.
Again, you’ll need to get past a few minor and one major deviation from the source material, but I stand by my statement saying Batman: Hush is one of the best animated films headlined by the World’s Greatest Detective to date. It doesn’t take my #1 spot, though I’d say it’s Top Five or Six material.