Across all of the fictional cities associated with all comic book heroes, Gotham City is surely the most densely populated with superheroes and villains. In Batman’s latest animated adventure, this hypothesis is put to the test in a multi-city spanning tale of mystery that includes near enough everyone in Batman’s oeuvre. As someone with a limited grasp of Batman lore that doesn’t extend much further than the Batman films and the Arkham game series, I found Batman: Hush to be a different take on the numerous Batman iterations I’ve come to know and love, but nonetheless an entertaining one.
After a mysterious bandaged villain, the titular villain Hush voiced by Geoffrey Arend, shoots Batman (Jason O’Mara) out of the sky rendering him hospitalised, Hush seizes the opportunity to recruit some of Gotham’s notorious villains in Poison Ivy (Peyton List) and Bane (Adam Gifford). Hush’s mission? To take down those Batman holds dear one by one, leaving Batman and Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison) to follow the trail left by Hush to stop his deadly plans and find out who exactly Hush is.
In the 12A era of superhero cinema (Deadpool notwithstanding), it was refreshing to see a somewhat more adult take on Batman. After 2016’s controversial Batman: The Killing Joke adaptation, we learn in a much more respectable manner that Bruce Wayne fucks in between his various crime-fighting adventures in which faces are beaten to a pulp and blood splatters on windows and walls. When Harley Quinn briefly appears, we hear even more blatant innuendos and sexual humour than usual. All of this is in service of WB Animation’s separate DC universe, somewhere I intend on dipping further into in the future.
In a speedy 79 minutes, Batman: Hush wastes no time in getting us in the thick of it, and while we appear to meet every single hero or villain possible in Gotham, it never feels overwhelming. Batman: Hush makes you feel comfortable in the world, and balances quick introductions well before allowing the plot to take over. Even those unfamiliar with Batman stories beyond, say, The Dark Knight Trilogy, will feel at ease with the multitude of characters we meet because they are all part of the dark underbelly of Gotham. It feels authentic that all of these heroes and villains would be brought into a plot to take down Batman once and for all.
Batman: Hush is an action-packed adventure through Gotham, and I found myself consistently impressed with the animation and fight choreography on show. It maintains a comic-book aesthetic with very brief freeze frames and flashes at every punch, showcasing our heroes’ athletic ability in-keeping with their own fighting styles. Batman feels heavy and strong, Catwoman more agile, and Nightwing a sort of watered-down mixture of the two of them. Every fight sequence felt weighty, helped massively by the brief but effective blood splatters and spillages from various sharp objects. One of my favourite sequences in the film, while short, is a car chase that is animated beautifully. It felt like a different type of animation to the rest of the film given how smooth it was, but I appreciated its use in a high-octane instance like this one.
Given its nature as a mystery story, I never found the mystery to be a particularly challenging one to solve. There are various twists and turns on the way to the finale, some of which were a pleasant surprise (one of my major early theories was shot down around two-thirds of the way through the film), but the major mystery is a relatively easy solve given the nature of Hush themselves. Talking of Hush, their plan in the finale is no doubt well-thought-out, and as they villain-monologue their way through the explanation, I couldn’t help but wonder why they didn’t take it that step further and mislead Batman one final time.
Further, as the film ended, while being impressed with some of the more adult paths the story takes, in particular with regard to the development of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle’s relationship, I couldn’t help but feel disappointed that it all went fairly predictably. Still, I was impressed that they kept a few tricks up their sleeves right up to the final few moments.
Batman: Hush is a very entertaining Batman adventure with a fun, different take on Batman that some of us may not be completely used to. I really enjoyed the vast cast of characters we meet along the way, and the mystery, while relatively simple, is intriguing enough and packed with a few surprising turns to keep you engaged all the way through.
Directed by: Justin Copeland
Cast: Jason O’Mara, Jennifer Morrison, Stuart Allan, Geoffrey Arend, Peyton List, Jerry O’Connell
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