*MAJOR SPOILERS if you haven’t seen the film, or if you haven’t read the original graphic novel*
After seeing the animated film, Batman: Hush, I decided to reread all 12 issues of the original graphic novel. You want to know what was painful about that? Seeing how more than half of the original story and characters were either removed or revised (poorly by the way) and compressed into an hour and half-long movie.
This is what makes the film adaptation, ‘Batman: Hush’ feel like an overall let-down. Based on the iconic 2002 graphic novel released by superstar artist Jim Lee and acclaimed writer Jeph Loeb, ‘Batman: Hush’ tells the tale of a mysterious new villain, known simply as Hush, arriving in Gotham with the goal of sabotaging Batman, whilst also placing Bruce Wayne and those closest to him, in grave danger.
Thus, a complex “murder-mystery” style case ensues, one that reaches as high as Superman, and to various villains within Batman’s rogues gallery, including but not limited to, the Joker, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, and Harley Quinn. At the same time, Batman must also deal with the sudden re-emergence of both Selina Kyle, aka. Catwoman (his former love interest) and Dr. Thomas Elliot (his childhood friend).
Despite taking inspiration from the source material, the film pales quite significantly in comparison to its graphic novel counterpart, as it either removes certain villains in favor of other ones, such Bane instead of Killer Croc & Batgirl instead of Huntress, or just removes them entirely, such as Talia al Ghul, and her father Ra’s, Harvey Dent, and even Tim Drake (the third Robin). Characters that did appear in the novel, but made it in the film were mainly used to move the plot; nothing more, nothing less and weren’t given a chance to further contribute (i.e. Nightwing, Lex Luthor & Thomas Elliot to name a few).
In the graphic novel, you see a Batman who uses every tool in his arsenal; including every detective skill he has ever learned during his time as the Caped Crusader in order to unravel this large mystery. In the film, however, we get treated to a Batman who only knows what the plot allows him to know.
He would mainly rely on his gadgets rather than his intellect, and its only during last part of the film where he does some actual form of detective work, but even by then, it doesn’t make up for the lack thereof.
The voice-acting is another issue that plagues this film. Jason O’ Mara (Batman/Bruce Wayne) has shown time and time again that he can play a decent Dark Knight, but even I noticed that some lines failed to deliver, as there was a lack of emotion or urgency when such things were necessary in certain parts of the film.
This is doubly true for Jennifer Morrison, the voice behind Catwoman. No matter what form of media Catwoman is portrayed in, her voice always had that flirtatious, sly, yet intimidating tone. In this case, it’s just…basic. Nothing about it screams Catwoman; and the Joker is…well, a joke (no pun intended).
Every line that the Joker said in the film, failed to deliver, and the infamous Joker laugh, was decent at best. As for the main antagonist, Hush, his lines failed to deliver that sense of intimidation, of being five steps ahead of Batman. It just sounded like the kind of voice you’d hear from your everyday super-villain.
What made the graphic novel stand out was that it gave us a detailed look into how Bruce and Tommy became friends, and how they eventually split. Both were kids with a wealthy upbringing, and after the death of Bruce’s parents, Tommy stood by him. However, when Tommy’s parents were involved in a car crash which led to his father dying, Tommy, in a fit of rage and grief, ended up blaming Bruce, which led to them eventually drifting apart. Unfortunately, this crucial piece of exposition was removed entirely from the film, and we were given little to no background on their friendship. The same can be said for certain moments in the novel between Catwoman & Batman that should have remained in the film, but didn’t.
During the final confrontation against Hush, his secret identity is finally revealed. Despite it being indirectly similar to the novel, it didn’t stop them from adding a twist to it, which I personally felt was unnecessary and somewhat distasteful considering the source material it is taking inspiration from. To make it even worse, once the battle is over, both Batman & Catwoman get into a disagreement over how the former tried to save Hush from a warehouse that was going to collapse on top of them. Said disagreement eventually causes them to break up. Even though they break up in the novel, at least the reason behind it makes somewhat more sense there.
In conclusion, Batman: Hush is just a pale comparison of the graphic novel. It didn’t do it justice, and if they had taken a few more elements from it, the film might have worked. Unfortunately, it didn’t. The only saving grace in this film are the references to the source material and how some scenes recreate some of the best splash pages which made the novel so iconic and further propelled Jim Lee to the top of the industry.
Regardless of these scene recreations and the references, it’s not enough to make-up for the film’s shortcomings. To me, this gets a D. Do yourselves a favor, if you haven’t seen the film yet, DO NOT read the novel beforehand, otherwise you’re going to be sorely disappointed.