DC has been on a downward spiral for so long at this point that it is laughable. The last near decade of DC related comics and movies have all missed the whole point of what makes comics enjoyable. Fun stories about people who we only wish we could be. Big, bright and colorful stories dealing with incredibly sinister plots that are masterminded from a arch-nemesis
…. Not about how someone so ordinary, who would rather fit in with the popular kids in jr high instead of receiving the power of flight, or how they need to “live their truth” by being as flamboyant as possible to pass off the agenda of some corporate entity to sell more subscriptions to their newest copycat streaming service…
This really doesn’t even have much to do with the newest Batman animated movie Hush, and that’s because it’s so bland that it’s much more interesting to rant about how much DC has sucked over the last 10ish years instead. Either way, let’s get down to brass tax… Hush is the retelling of one of my favorite Batman graphic novels. It condenses two volumes of the magnificent story into a 80 minute feature that unfortunately can’t live up to the graphic novel at all.
Anyone familiar with Hush, be it the graphic novel or the inclusion in the unbelievably fantastic Arkham video games already know the main twist… but here, in this movie twists a bit. Even I was thrown for a loop revisiting this for the first time since it’s release almost exactly a decade ago, which I’ll get to in a bit. First let’s just kinda talk about the movie itself.
The Hush movie follows one of the strictest lines from page to screen that DC has done in their movies. Most of the movies as of late are based off the same stories as the graphic novels but take very large liberties with the ins and outs, changing a lot of stuff, so that the movies are follow a basic plot but everything else is pretty different. Here in Hush, the movie actually follows a lot of the same beats but changing up a few of the villains out for more recognizable ones (for..ugh… “Brand Synergy” I guess). Example, Bane is at the very beginning who has kidnapped a kid and Batman promptly shows up and all but murders him by electrocution. But in the graphic novel, it is Killer Croc who is the kidnapper. This happens several times in the movie, just switching villains out with relative ease.
Hush the movie does such a dis-service to it’s graphic novel counterpart with changing it’s visual style from the gorgeous flair of Jim Lee’s artwork, and swapping it in for the straight sharp angled lines of a very basic modern Saturday morning cartoon vibe from a sweatshop in China. The bland art, coupled with the muted tone of “Dark and Gritty” DC loves to make, allows this movie to look like a corporate CEO who has “No Fun” tattooed across his knuckles, was cracking the whip across every worker in the office. This is even felt in the line delivery, as the voice actors feel very constrained with what they are saying, as if every word has been enunciated and articulated and screened to sound like a workplace safety video with no emotion. I mean, this is the story of Batman revealing his feelings and identity to Selina Kyle for the first time. With Batman being very stoic, it can usually be funny, because he always has to keep his guard up. But here, when he lets his guard down, it shouldn’t sound like a robot delivering the passionate speech, but a human so full of pain and love that it should be found in the warbling of the throat as these lines pass through the mouth and into the mic.
So, we come to the ending of the movie which, for me caught me a bit off guard. I’m going to spoil the end of the graphic novel and movie here, so please skip the next two paragraphs if you care about twists. For me, I know Hush as Thomas Elliot, Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend, who tried to kill his parents to get his inheritance. Bruce’s Dad saved Elliot’s mom and Eliot was so pissed he devoted his life to becoming a surgeon and crafted the Hush persona as being able to use his surgeon skills to make himself look like Bruce Wayne and steal his identity and ruin Bruce’s life.
In the Hush book and movie it actually is The Riddler, who used the Lazerus Pit to heal his tumor and in doing so, was able to figure out the identity of Batman. This made me question the story, as I forgot, they actually retconned Hush into Thomas Elliot in Heart of Hush. The Riddler was Hush in the first graphic novel and this movie and it was super weird to have to look that up after to make sure I wasn’t going insane.
The reveal of Hush is a good twist, as this is what Batman does best, making villains and being able to sympathies with them through some clever writing and setups. The thing with the movie (and the graphic novel to some extent) is that it feels all very rushed. There is zero time to let feelings evolve or be shown. The love that Batman has for Catwoman seems more like lust and a bad decision being made after 2am instead of the intelligent thoughtfulness that “Bat-prep” usually brings. There is no time made for scenes to fully play out or to breathe, instead everyone is more interested in getting their quippy one liner out and moving on the the next scene so this thing can wrap up.
Also, really quick… there is zero reason there should be shaky cam added to animation… ZERO!!!!
Ok, so to wrap this up, just like the movie wanted to. Hush is probably one of the most faithful retellings of a DC movie. It changes up a few minor things to make the story flow a bit better in parts or use characters the mass majority of people are familiar with (I mean swapping out Huntress for Batgirl makes sense since no one knows Huntress), but feels very inconsistent with the retconning of who Hush is in the DC Universe. This movie won’t be able to stand up when they do Heart of Hush in the next 7 years or so. But with that, it’s also just so bland and by the book that it really isn’t worth anyone’s time who has really enjoyed these stories in their original graphic novel form. The whole movie feels like a cliffnotes retelling done to apeal the the melinial generation by having the whole dialoge replaced with one liners and an unnessesary lesbian kiss between Catwoman and Poison Ivy to please the policitally correct crowd.
If you’ve never read Hush Vol. 1 & 2 before, and never will take the time, this is a perfectly acceptable if albeit bland way to experience the story. I would advise anyone who cares, to read the graphic novels. They are beautifully drawn, and the story does delve so much deeper into these characters and really make them stand out as fully fleshed and realized. The scene of Joker’s bloody face and missing teeth pops with so much more color in the comic than on the screen… you owe it to yourself to experience it in its full detail.