Batman: Hush 2019
The DC Animated universe continues to deliver animated movies based on some of the most celebrated story arcs across their comics. I had heard about Hush here and there though I never really knew what it was about until I watched it for the first time just the other day. There were plenty of good elements, but there was one big change that I had heard inklings of and didn’t really think worked. This also follows the current animated continuity after Reign of the Superman which had a couple nice moments that connected the stories. It was good, but there were some serious issues the more I thought about this movie. And as there is a bit of a mystery surrounding the identity of Hush, I will be discussing it in full so here’s your spoiler warning.
Similar to Gotham by Gaslight last year, we have a Batman movie where he has to deal with a brand new villain whose identity we don’t know until the reveal at the end of the movie. And in both cases, the reveal is different from who it was in the original comics story. In both instances, the identity is changed from a character introduced within the current story to a more well known character from Batman lore. The difference in this one is that with Gotham by Gaslight, the identity of the character actually has some presence within the story before the reveal, where in this case the reveal comes out of left field. Everything seems to point to the fact that Hush is Bruce Wayne’s surgeon friend, but it’s ultimately revealed that it was the Riddler who had an inoperable brain tumor and had to revive himself through a Lazarus Pit which gave him the knowledge of Batman’s secret identity.
Where this theory really breaks down is that nothing really points to the Riddler throughout the first half of the movie. He’s only introduced near the beginning of the third act of the movie and it turns out that it was actually Clayface posing as the Riddler. That fake out was one of the best moments involving the mystery of Hush, as was the manipulation of Harley Quinn and the Joker, but the rest of the villain and hero manipulations felt much too simple for the likes of the Riddler. Bane, Poison Ivy, Catwoman, and even Superman’s roles in this plot to ultimately destroy Batman really felt superfluous, as was the frequent focus on the money which ultimately led to nothing. Even after Batman felt like Hush was going after his inner circle, there was time for a team up montage with him and Catwoman with zero consequences nor did any of it seem to further the Hush investigation.
As far as Catwoman’s involvement, that was the overall high point in this story. They have often had an on-again-off-again relationship and this is the first time in one of these animated movies that they ended up having a really serious relationship. They even had a nice Lois Lane/Clark Kent moment of Bruce revealing his secret identity to her even though it felt surprising that she didn’t already know it at this point. Especially as she was basically dating both Batman and Bruce Wayne at the same time. But besides that, the relationship was handled very well with a mix of pathos and comedy when she’s introduced to the rest of the Bat-family including Dick’s awkwardly hilarious reveal of Batman’s son Damian.
As far as how the overall mystery and plan worked, the biggest flaw was how much hinged on the introduction and death of seemingly longtime friend of Bruce Wayne’s: Thomas Elliot. Because the movie had only a very short window to introduce and then kill off this character, the impact on the audience was very minimal but the supposed impact to Batman himself was so much that he was about to break his code by killing the Joker. Aside from the lack of pathos towards Elliot, that was honestly the best part of the plan. The other best moment was when Catwoman and Batman were reluctantly working together in Metropolis and had to deal with a Superman who was controlled by Poison Ivy who was manipulated by Hush. They were able to break Ivy’s control by having Catwoman throw Lois off a roof so that Superman would have to break his order to kill Batman in order to save the woman he loved. Catwoman initially blames the plan on Batman, and he accepts the blame only to reveal shortly afterwards that it was actually Catwoman’s improvisation to their plan. It’s a great moment for both characters and a smart solution to the problem. And while it was also generally inconsequential to the overall story, the brief back and forth between Batman and Amanda Waller was a nice touch.
What this story really lacked was something cohesive to tie everything together in a neat package. Instead, we get a series of interconnected events, some of them good, some of them not so great. Hush is a villain who works best in the background despite getting an initial and impactful jump on Batman early on in the story. Everything seemed to point towards Thomas being Hush, especially the body type. The story jumped around until it came together at the end. It was still enjoyable and entertaining, but it just left a little something to be desired. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.