The twelve-issue Batman: Hush story arc remains at the top of most comic fans’ lists. Published from 2002-2003, the story by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee, Scott Williams, and Alex Sinclair was pretty groundbreaking and shook up the status quo for Batman. From the evolution of the relationship between Batman and Catwoman to the surprise twist at the end, the story had several great beats from beginning to end.
How will this classic story translate into an 82-minute movie?
Surprisingly, the adaptation works really well on different levels.
The first thing many will notice is the difference in art style. With this being the 13th movie in the DC Animated Movie Universe, the character designs are consistent with what we’ve seen lately. That means they do not resemble Jim Lee’s style in any way. It’s understandable why this decision was made. Continuity is important to comic readers, and the DC animated movies have handled it really well. They’ve been doing a great job carving out this movie universe. There are even some moments that show this takes place right after The Death and Return of Superman.
Having the various changes might seem like a turnoff for diehard fans, but it’s really a good thing here. Would we really want a blow-by-blow adaptation of the original twelve issues? While it would be fascinating, some parts would likely make a movie drag on. The changes also help viewers accept that this isn’t the original Loeb/Lee comic. I’m a big fan of cover songs when a band can re-interpret a song in their own style while still retaining the original essence. That’s what this movie does.
To help with the changes, we do see a return to a more classic Bat-costume that will make things a little easier for those resistant to change.
We still get a bunch of cameos by the various Bat-villains and supporting characters that appeared in the comic. Some characters are replaced by others in order to fit in with the current continuity. For example, Bane is swapped in for Killer Croc and Batgirl for Huntress. Damian Wayne is here instead of Tim Drake and has a pretty funny dialogue with Batman. These changes help give the movie its own identity as another chapter in the DC Animated Movie Universe.
Trimming down various plotlines allows the movie to move at a faster pace. One might argue it would have been nice to see some elements fleshed out more. Still, a lot of ground is covered in this condensed running time, which is normal for these movies. We do get the introduction of Thomas Elliot, witness Hush’s plan unfold, and see the blossoming relationship between Batman and Catwoman. There’s even an almost love triangle between Batman, Selina, and Bruce. If that wasn’t enough, fans of the comic will be happy to know we do get to see Superman controlled by Poison Ivy and a confrontation between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight as well.
If you’re concerned you already know everything about the story and there’s no reason to watch it, that would actually be incorrect. Along with the little changes for continuity and running time, there are some other major changes that take place. According to the commentary, the changes were made to actually surprise everyone, regardless if you’ve read the comic version or not.
There may be some mixed feelings about the changes. I say just embrace them as this is the movie version of the story. The changes allow it to be its own story, for better or worse. If anything, it’ll definitely provide a topic for conversation around the water cooler or in comic shops.
I already mentioned the visuals. If you’ve seen any of the recent movies, you know what to expect. Some of the character designs really work. There was something about the way Nightwing looked, and seeing Batgirl in her newer costume was interesting to see in this story setting.
The voice acting is great as well. I’ve gotten used to Jason O’Mara as Batman after so many installments. Some of the character interactions felt like they didn’t quite mesh up, but overall, they helped pull me into the story and the visuals to immerse me in the movie.
As for the special features, the Sgt. Rock DC Showcase feature was pretty interesting. I’ll admit, I’m not the biggest Sgt. Rock fan. This is mainly because I never read war comics as a kid. What made me give it my full attention was seeing that Bruce Timm produced and directed it while the story was written by Louise Simonson & Walter Simonson and Tim Sheridan. The story was intriguing, and it was cool to hear Karl Urban voicing the character.
Other features include a 16-minute Batman: Love in Time of War segment discussing the nature of Batman and Catwoman’s relationship as well as a 10-minute sneak peek at Wonder Woman: Bloodlines–the next DC animated movie. From the “vault” is an episode of Batman: The Animated Series–“Catwalk.”
The main question is–should you get this? The movie has been available digitally for a couple weeks so it’s possible you’ve already purchased it. The movie will also be available to stream on DC Universe beginning August 13. (Although it might have also been moved up to August 6). The answer is, yes, you should buy this movie. If you’re a Batman fan, you’ve probably read the comic version of this story several times. It’s a great chance to see a slightly different take on a great story. The overall production is excellent, and you shouldn’t miss it.
If you haven’t read the original comic, you absolutely need to pick up the graphic novel.
If you have watched the movie, comment below (without spoilers).