WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Batman: Hush, available now for digital download.
Batman: Hush continues to shape the adventures of the Dark Knight in the DC Animated Universe, with an adaptation of the 2002 DC storyline by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee. In the comic book arc, the villainous mastermind Hush, who somehow knew Batman's alter ego, played mind games with the hero, and pushed him to his limits.
While the villain in the source material was revealed as Bruce Wayne's childhood friend, Tommy Elliot, the animated movie introduces a new twist with Hush's identity.
In the comic, Tommy utilized knowledge provided by the Ridder to torment Batman. He hated Bruce, who saved his mother's life in a car accident orchestrated by Tommy in hopes of killing his parents. Believing Bruce had robbed him of this inheritance, Tommy harbored a lifelong grudge that he was finally able to act upon when the Riddler partnered with him to bring down Batman. Tommy used such pawns such as Clayface, who impersonated Jason Todd, Catwoman and the Joker to fake his death. However, ultimately Batman was able to deduce Tommy's scheme and stop him.
Make no mistake, it appears at first glance that Tommy is indeed the villain of the movie as well. When Bruce has to fake a car crash after Hush's first attack, Tommy operates on his friend and tells him they need to spend more time together. Under the circumstances, it's suspicious that Tommy wants bonding time, and we see Bruce growing cautious of his childhood friend. It certainly looks as if the movie is following the comics to a tee -- that is, until the final act, in which it's revealed Hush is really Riddler.
Batman pieces together the puzzle when Tommy is killed by the Joker. Just like the comics, it appears as if this is a setup; Tommy is even buried. But when Batman investigates Tommy's laptop computer, he discovers he treated Arthur Wynne, a fake identity that leads back to the Riddler. When confronts him at Arkham Asylum, we learn the Riddler only pretended to be one of Hush's lackeys so would be taken into custody and, thus, not be one of Batman's suspects.
The Ridder was dying of a brain tumor, and sought Tommy's help, just as in in the comics. But rather than join forces, Tommy told the Riddler he couldn't save him, and the villain grew resentful. He then sought out the Lazarus Pit, and once bathing in its green, restorative waters, the Riddler finally deduced, after examining years' worth of seemingly unconnected clues in his mind, that Batman is Bruce Wayne.
He then adopted the Hush persona, and with a question mark engraved in his forehead, he wore bandages and deceived the likes of Bane, Poison Ivy and Joker into helping him with this assault on Batman and Gotham. And so, when Joker kills Tommy, it isn't a cop-out, as the Riddler truly wants to eliminate everyone close to Bruce and make him pay for his secret life as a vigilante.
Riddler embraces the Hush identity and wages a one-man war, deciding that would also serve as revenge against his fellow rogues. We're cleverly thrown off initially because, when we see the Riddler in the streets, he appears to be mind-controlled. In reality, however, he's merely providing himself with an alibi. The Hush parading around throughout much of the movie is none other than Clayface. It's a distraction so the Ridder/Hush can pursue the Bat-family -- specifically, Bruce's new girlfriend, Catwoman. It's a legitimate curve ball, and it works, providing the movie with a much-needed dose of unpredictability.
The Riddler was nothing more than a supporting act in the previous animated movies, so this twist evolves the villain. Batman even admits that Hush makes Riddler anything but a C-lister, and in the process, we get an enemy who's 10 steps ahead of the World's Greatest Detective. This development also does the Riddler justice and, at long last, makes him an intimidating presence onscreen, especially as no one anticipates this big twist.
Directed by Justin Copeland, Batman: Hush stars Jason O'Mara, Jennifer Morrison, Jerry O'Connell, Rebecca Romijn, Rainn Wilson, Sean Maher, Bruce Thomas, Stuart Allen, James Garrett, Maury Sterling, Geoffrey Arend, Vanessa Williams, Jason Spisak, Adam Gifford, Dachie Alessio, Peyton List and Tara Strong.