80 Years Of The Bat: DC Animation Adapts Hush
by Ben Martin
80 Years of The Bat is a column created to celebrate the 80th anniversary of one of the most beloved characters ever created, Batman. Since his creation in 1939, Batman has managed to transcend his native medium of comic books. Eight decades later, the character has a presence in every area of entertainment. Over that time, Batman has garnered generations of fans; thus, always remaining relevant. Throughout the remainder of 2019, 80 Years of The Bat will examine decades worth of Batman material from every medium. This time around I’ll be looking at one of the most anticipated DC adaptations in awhile, Batman: Hush!
For the past several years, Warner Bros. Animation and DC Animation have been bringing beloved story arches from the publisher’s pages to animated life. In doing so, the films in The DC Animated Universe have all adopted a similar style of animation, which is a mix of traditional animation and anime. While this particular style is not one I love, it is a style that I’ve come to appreciate. Moreover, I generally find these animated features to be satisfying and serviceable adaptations of their source material.
The latest animated adaptation is, of course, Batman: Hush, loosely based on the exceptional storyline of the same name by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee. After thwarting a kidnapping plot, Batman (Jason O’ Mara) is headed back to the cave after another successful night of defending Gotham City from crime. Alas, The Caped Crusader doesn’t make it home safely. Someone cuts his grappling line, causing Batman to fall to the pavement and sustain a significant skull fracture. Thanks to a clever cover story for the injury’s cause and the help of his long lost childhood friend, surgeon Dr. Thomas Elliot (Maury Sterling), Bruce Wayne manages to recover. However, a severe injury is only the beginning of Batman’s mysterious new foe, Hush. With the help of the rest of Gotham’s criminal underworld, Hush intends to absolute to tear Batman/Bruce Wayne’s world apart.
Despite a plot synopsis which rings true that of its source material, this animated take on Hush barely qualifies as an adaptation of the comic storyline. Screenwriter Ernie Altbacker (Teen Titans: The Judas Contract) takes a bat-shaped butcher knife to the source material to craft his screenplay; making completely unnecessary (and sometimes significant) changes along the way. The most egregious of which is making Dr. Thomas Elliot, an unimportant character. Of course, this is mainly because this movie doesn’t bother to delve into the childhood relationship between Bruce and Tommy. As a result, we get a film that only vaguely resembles the lauded comic that inspired it. Thus, this animated version of Batman: Hush has no emotional resonance whatsoever. The one relationship that the animated feature in review does get right is the romantic one between Batman / Bruce Wayne and Catwoman / Selina Kyle (Jennifer Morrison). Then again, that’s not hard to do considering the romantic dynamic between The Bat and The Cat has been visited countless times.
I hated what they did with the narrative here, but thankfully I can be a bit more complimentary of the film’s animation. As I mentioned earlier, these animated movies have an established style. In the case of Batman: Hush, this style works well. There are moments in this film where the art of the comic is perfectly replicated for the animation medium. Thus, this animated feature is at least a decent visual representation of its source material.
Even still, the animation on display does not save Batman: Hush from being a near-complete waste. Sure, if you’re just looking for another Batman story, this will work well enough. Alas, if you want a faithful and entertaining adaptation of Hush, you won’t get it from this flick. Frankly, you’re better off reading the trade paperback (which you can read my review of here: https://www.comicon.com/2019/07/31/80-years-of-the-bat-jeph-loeb-jim-lees-batman-hush/) than watching this animated effort it spawned. I’m incredibly disappointed that DC Animation didn’t give this “adaptation” more reverence. On the contrary, it seems the animators/filmmakers behind this adaptation were more concerned with making it edgy and an extension of DC’s animated universe more than anything else.
The Animated Batman: Hush Movie Is Now Available on Digital HD, 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray, & DVD!
Batman: Hush Can Be Purchased in Various Trade Paperback Editions at Your Preferred Comic Book Shop or Digital Comics Retailer!
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