The Caped Crusader is back in Batman: Hush, the 13th film in the interconnected DC Animated Movie Universe. Directed by Justin Copeland from a script by Ernie Altbacker, the film has some praise-worthy moments, but it ultimately fails as an adaptation of the classic storyline.
Most people watching animated superhero products are there an action-packed good time, but that doesn’t excuse Batman: Hush’s clunky dialogue. Gotham’s protector isn’t known for his refined language, but the film gives him a lot of awkward one-liners and sentences that make him sound more foolish than menacing. Fortunately, no matter how awkward things could be when Batman was in costume, Bruce Wayne’s dialogue felt incredibly natural and helped make the character seem more comfortable overall throughout the film.
Despite the film’s setbacks, the cast does a solid job bringing the story to life. Returning to the cowl, Jason O’Mara turns in a commanding performance as Batman, but it’s Jennifer Morrison‘s Selina Kyle who steals the show. Morrison can signal the vulnerability hidden behind the character’s mask and quickly pivot to a sassy, confident voice that makes the authoritative villain seem like one of Batman’s equals. Rainn Wilson‘s Lex Luthor and Stuart Allan‘s Damian Wayne both receive moments in the spotlight, but it’s Nightwing, once again voiced by Sean Maher, who comes across as the most enjoyable supporting character.
Potentially in an attempt to cash-in on all the buzz around Batman and Catwoman’s current relationship in the comics, the film emphasizes their complicated dynamic. Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne come to blows and lock-lips in this film, giving the storytellers a lot of emotional ground to explore as Batman tries to figure out who is tearing Gotham apart. Going back to the dialogue point from earlier, whenever Batman and Catwoman interact, Batman comes off a bit clunky and robotic, but whenever Bruce and Selina are flirting, he comes across as charming and smooth. Being the latest chapter in an interconnected universe, Hush also does a good job setting up new dimensions to their relationship that will be interesting to see explored further in upcoming animated features.
One of my biggest problems with the film is Hush himself isn’t really portrayed as a menacing foe, he’s just someone capable of organizing schemes on a large scale. Instead of digging into Batman’s psyche like he does in the comic, Hush just pulls a few strings and ma. The character’s personal connection with Batman, mainly Tommy Elliot’s significant childhood friendship with Bruce, I don’t want to spoil the film’s plot, but Hush significantly changes the villain in a way that is unnecessary and ultimately doesn’t pay one of Batman’s most sophisticated rivals justice.
Judging the film as an adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee‘s story, Batman: Hush fails to deliver a lot of what made the source material so special. Instead of being a story that truly examines Batman’s traumatic past and pushes him to his limits, the story feels like its simply picking random ingredients that make-up an epic adventure for the Caped Crusader.
Sure, the iconic moment of Batman beating Joker to a bloody pulp is there, but the intensity and emotional strain that made it so memorable in the comic aren’t effectively replicated here, instead resulting in a scene where the Caped Crusader seems to take things too far for seemingly no reason. I won’t list off all the creative changes made here, because, let me tell you, there are a lot of unnecessary ones, but it really is a shame that Hush wasn’t just a straight adaptation instead of a somewhat original story using a borrowed title.
Batman: Hush has some praiseworthy aspects, mainly the relationship between Bruce and Selina, but ultimately it fails to deliver on what makes the story so special. I feel bad complaining about a new Batman animated film as a die hard fan of the character, but this film doesn’t have the magic that made so many of the Bruce Timm helmed projects remarkable. Luckily, the opening scene is one of the best segments in the movie, with Bruce having to juggle his dual responsibilities at a fancy charity event, so Hush does everything it can to suck the audience in early to its explosive feature.
Final Score: 5/10