Batman: Hush Review
In many ways the animated DC movie universe succeeds where the live action efforts fail. They give a sense of the wider universe setting whilst telling their own distinct story, they don’t feel too overwhelming for new fans with exposition dumps and, most of all, they’re just good fun to watch. And all without a Snyder cut in sight. The latest release, Batman: Hush, is an adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s popular story arc that has been a long time coming. So, was it worth the wait?
It’s business as usual for Batman (Jason O’Mara) when an old frenemy - Selina Kyle (Jennifer Morrison) AKA Catwoman - comes back into town. She claims to be trying to change for the better, but her part in an operation seemingly being run by Poison Ivy (Peyton List) would suggest otherwise. Some digging and a few fateful encounters with Superman (Jerry O’Connell), the Joker (Jason Spisak), and the Riddler (Geoffrey Arend), suggest that a new player is out to get Batman, someone who knows a lot about him, and is looking to silence the Dark Knight permanently.
I really enjoyed Batman: Hush. It gives us all the action and dynamic visuals we could want from a Batman story. The animation is great, the score just the right amount of epic and pulpy, and it feels properly comic book in the best possible way. The 15 rating means that this is not your usual Saturday morning cartoon, with added violence, swearing (Poison Ivy has quite the mouth on her), and some hanky-panky thrown in. However, I will say that the more high-rated content never feels forced in the way that some other superhero films trying to shake the “for kids” image tend to. And yes, I am looking at you Suicide Squad when I say that.
I also appreciated the very dry sense of humour that runs throughout, showing that you can have a serious superhero story without being grim-faced about it. I also loved the little meta mythology nod of Selina’s pet kitty being called Eartha.
The movie could have been called Batman and Catwoman because it is those characters and their relationship (in both of their duel identities) that is really at the heart of the film, and it’s probably the strongest element. Selina Kyle is looking to live a life that doesn’t involve crime, and Batman is clearly trying to find a balance between Batman and Bruce Wayne, in particular trying to reconnect to childhood friend Thomas Elliot (Maury Sterling).
Batman is a character that has always had a particular code to his operations. A lot of this has changed over the years, but these days one core element established is that Batman does not kill. Doing so would cross that line that separates him from the insane criminals he fights. I’ve always felt that Batman is very aware of how close he is to that line, and as much as he claims he isn’t as morally good as Superman or other heroes, his rigid discipline and awareness of himself is what makes him one of the most admirable superheroes in the DC canon. It does, however, also raise a question; is this mission of his something he can ever turn off or relax? Even for the sake of being with someone he cares about? Of course, to comic fans the answer will be obvious, but the way it is presented in the film is still interesting to watch.
The central mystery about Hush and the wider plot including various classic Batman villains is interesting. Batman facing a Poison Ivy-controlled Superman makes for a great set piece, although not necessarily gripping. Certain characters turn up for a moment and are then forgotten and not so much as mentioned again, both Harley Quinn and Batgirl being particular victims of this. That is part of the problem when the movie presents itself as very much a who's who of the Batman universe, some characters will evidently get lost in the shuffle.
This film is also not as direct and faithful an adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee’s Hush comic as it could have been, and that will probably frustrate many. However, the changes make sense and work in the name of making a streamlined version of the story, and if anything by shuffling things about it means one of the more obvious elements of the story is actually subverted, as in you expect a certain character to have something to do with what is happening, but get proven wrong.
Whilst Batman: Hush may not be the comic adaptation that many fans have been waiting for, it is an entertaining and fun Batman movie in a way that feels right. Maybe Batman is a character that is served better in stylised animation than live action. This film is a decent case in favour of that.