Spoilers for both the comic book and animated adaptation of Hush. You have been warned.
All right, confession time: The Hush comic book is probably one of – if not my favorite – Batman stories of all time. I love the art, I love the twists and turns, I love the bad guy, I love the growth of the characters involved… to me, it’s just about perfect and, well… animated adaptations of beloved comic books are decidedly less so. For every Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, there are three Batman: The Killing Jokes.
This does not do wonders for my confidence.
Batman: Hush, based on the comic of the same name, does what I feared it would do… it changes things including, quite shockingly, the identity of Hush himself. Strangely… it works. I’m shocked to say that, but it does.
In the comic, Hush is (assumed to be) Thomas Elliot, the brain surgeon who saved Batman’s life following a head injury with The Riddler being the manipulative mastermind behind the scenes. This is, of course, after the fake-out that makes it look like Hush is the deceased Robin, Jason Todd… only to discover that it’s Clayface impersonating Jason Todd.
In the animated movie, Hush is simply the Riddler. While that may sound like sacrilege, in practice, it works rather well. It streamlines the complicated plot and actually throws in a twist for those, like me, who are familiar with the story already.
Honestly, if you can get past your inner Comic Book Guy and see the bigger picture, it completely works.
But while that works, there are a few things that don’t. I hate to say this, but I am not a fan of Jennifer Morrison’s voice work as Catwoman. Don’t get me wrong… I love Jennifer Morrison to pieces, but her portrayal of Catwoman is, at best, flat and lifeless. Perhaps I’ve just been spoiled by the likes of Eartha Kitt and Michelle Pfeiffer, but it’s hard to listen to a Catwoman that doesn’t draw out her R’s and purr when she speaks. It’s always been part of the fun of the character. Morrison takes the Cat out of Catwoman and it honestly makes her boring. I know that may be a little sexist of me to say so, but sex appeal is something that makes Catwoman Catwoman and, without it… she’s not Catwomany enough.
I was also disappointed that certain scenes from the comic didn’t make it into the movie. Batman’s final conversation with The Riddler, for example, was masterfully written in the comic how Bats turned the Riddler’s own devotion to the riddle against him to keep his identity secret. I loved that so much but, given the changes that the movie made to the Riddler’s arch, I guess there was no where to put it.
I am disappointed that Catwoman is the one to end the relationship in the movie. I’m not sure if it was changed in the animated film to make Catwoman more assertive, but the idea that Batman basically destroys the one good thing he has going on in his life because of his own paranoia was something I found disturbingly tragic, but completely in character. The film would have been better going that route.
To be honest, in hindsight, I would say that the biggest failure of the Hush adaptation was Thomas Elliot. The comic took great pains to show Bruce Wayne and Thomas Elliot grow up together and develop that friendship so that, when he “died,” it was a death that meant something. In the adaptation, Thomas Elliot is literally a guy that shows up and we’re told that he and Bruce are friends… the guy has literally three scenes and his death means nothing. He’s a meaningless redshirt, moreso when it’s revealed that he isn’t Hush after all.
Those concerns, however, are mild. On the whole, the Hush animated movie is a good one… unexpectedly enjoyable because the changes implemented actually throw even its fans for a loop. Are a number of them going to be upset because of the changes? Undoubtedly so. I do think that, if you’re able to get over that… like the casual fan who might watch this movie without even knowing about the comic book story, you’ll be in for an entertaining ride with sharp animation and a plot that unravels like a puzzle box. Is it perfect? Obviously not, but it’s good and, for an adaptation of a beloved comic book story, “good” can be seen as high praise.