DC Animation’s last Batman entry in its animated line-up was a massive disappointment (Batman: Gotham by Gaslight). This is keeping in mind that Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a collaboration between Warner Brothers and Nickelodeon. Moreover, it was not a part of the regular line-up of 3 animated DC movies that are released annually. Hence, when Batman: Hush was announced, there was a huge sense of expectation due to its iconic source material.
Over the last few years, DC’s stand-alone animated movies have tried to adopt some iconic comic-book story lines with mixed results. Adopting a much loved comic into a movie is always going to be a slightly dicey proposition. Straying even slightly from the original source material can cause a huge uproar amongst the fan-base even if the it is an otherwise well-executed film.
So, does Batman: Hush take huge liberties with its source material ? Indeed it does. Does the movie suffer as a result ? There are certainly two sides to this story.
The movie starts off with a bang. Batman, while in hot pursuit of Catwoman is shot at by a mysterious figure. His grappling hook gets severed and he falls to the ground from a considerable height. Although he does manage to survive and Cat Woman and Bat Girl do come to his rescue; it sets the tone for a riveting movie (Almost a very James Bond-esque opening).
The core of the movie revolves around several familiar villains from the Batman Rogues Gallery causing trouble for mysterious/unknown reasons. These include the likes of Bane, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, Scarecrow, The Riddler, Harley Quinn etc. As the film moves along, it starts becoming clear that all these villains are being manipulated by a mysterious villain who intends to destroy Batman’s crime-fighting career.
Also, to make more matters more interesting, there is another plot involving one of Batman’s childhood friends. The movie introduces the viewers to a character named Thomas Elliot who is a world-famous brain surgeon and is also a long-time friend of Bruce Wayne. When Batman gets caught up in the process of fighting all the familiar super-villains, Thomas Elliot gets murdered. It then appears that Elliot may somehow be connected to all the mysterious crimes committed by Gotham City’s super villains. All this leads to a whodunit that does not disappoint.
The Relationship Between Batman and Catwoman
A notable aspect of this movie is its exploration of the oft-teased potential relationship between Batman and Catwoman. While most incarnations of the dark knight have flirted with this idea, it has never really explored this path fully. A notable exception is an episode from Batman: The Brave and The Bold which even shows them having kids.
Their complimentary dynamic is captured quite well in this film even if it does sometimes detract from the main narrative. While this sub-plot does take away from the narrative, it nevertheless does add something unique to the film.
The Film vs The Comic
Prior to viewing this movie, a friend of mine had told me that he wasn’t too pleased with how DC had handled this iconic story. Upon viewing this movie, I thought it was a great watch. Personally, I felt that the way in which the story unraveled was very well executed with the final reveal being a rather unexpected one. The movie deserves particular praise for the trail of red herrings it leaves to distract the audience.
All this said, I was curious to find out why my friend despised the movie so much. After reading the synopsis, I was able to completely understand why my friend didn’t like the movie. Although the movie is well made and the final reveal is handled quite well, the finale does appear to lack some punch. The movie alternates between a more serious tone and a slightly watered down tone.
The comic in comparison has some characters who are quite dark. Moreover, the final reveal and the sequence of events leading up to the finale are goose bumps inducing. That said, it appears that DC has consciously made these controversial changes for a reason. Certain characters that play a key role in the comic have been completely side-lined in the movie; while the roles of certain other characters have reduced significantly. It appears that DC has got some other plans for these characters and wants to set-up a unique continuity of its own.
The Final Verdict
If you haven’t read the original comic, then this movie is completely worth it. This movie also has some surprise cameo appearances from some very important DC characters. Despite some of its controversial story changes from the comic, it is a well made film that holds your attention till the very end.
Hopefully Batman: Hush is a step in the right direction for DC’s stand-alone animated line-up which has been a mixed bag of late. DC’s last major animated release for the year is Wonder Woman: Bloodlines and one hopes it is as good as its predecessor Wonder Woman (2009).