Brief Consideration: Batman: Hush (2019)


On the page, Batman: Hush was an unrelenting sprint through the character’s world and status quo, elevated by Jim Lee’s astounding artwork. Its much-beloved status came more from accessibility and grand heroic sketches than being an intriguing mystery that said anything about the Dark Knight. By comparison, the animated adaptation proves to be a much more engaging and interesting affair. In spirit, the comic and movie share the same story: the Caped Crusader gets embroiled in a mystery that involves much of his rogues’ gallery, Superman and old friend- Tommy Elliot. The series of events are orchestrated by a person whose face is hidden behind bandages and goes by the name of Hush.

Rather than concerning itself with being a speedy introduction, Batman: Hush instead pitches itself as an Elseworlds tale. The film does this by bringing the various narrative elements that were hinted at in the comic to the forefront. Instead of the Batman/Catwoman relationship being a minor note, it’s now fully explored and has genuine pathos, courtesy of the filmmakers taking the time to show the characters interacting outside of their costumed personas.

This is compounded by the relationship breakdown differing in its emphasis to the source material. In the animated feature, it’s far more tragic because Catwoman leaves Batman, due to his belief that he should not kill any of the criminals he hunts. Whereas, the comic ended the relationship because of Batman’s paranoia in the aftermath of the events that he’s experienced.

In an even more fascinating wrinkle, the identity of Hush is changed in the movie; making the mastermind of the comic (The Riddler), the mystery man wearing the bandages. The result is a much cleaner and efficient storytelling choice that illustrates the Elseworlds nature of the film, presenting Edward Nigma in a context outside his usual M.O. and motivation.

Despite these choices, the film has the opposite problem of the comic insofar as the art style is concerned. By not directly translating Lee’s stunning artwork to animation, the film can’t help but look flatter by comparison. This is even worsened by the film occasionally stopping to admire certain shots in slow motion. Even without taking Lee’s artwork into consideration; the film’s animation style does not hold a candle to other DC animated features, particularly The Dark Knight Returns, which split the difference between adaptation and reverence in its style. Though some shots of a nighttime Gotham with its vastly large and illuminated tall buildings do catch the eye.

While Batman: Hush does improve upon its source material with a much more streamlined narrative and compelling central romance, the film does still begs the question of why it’s still among the most beloved Batman stories. Nothing in the film particularly speaks to the Caped Crusader as much as other tales, and its interesting elements often centre on its antagonists more than anything else.



About Sartaj Govind Singh

Notes from a distant observer: “Sartaj is a very eccentric fellow with a penchant for hats. He likes watching films and writes about them in great analytical detail. He has an MA degree in Philosophy and has been known to wear Mickey Mouse ears on his birthday.”
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