Created in 2003, Hush is a Batman villain with a deep connection to the Caped Crusader. As a costumed character, Hush has caused a great deal of pain to both Batman and Bruce Wayne.
He first appeared in Batman mythology via the comics, most notably during the storyline, Hush, which ran across multiple issues of DC’s Batman. Here Hush orchestrated a plan to attack Bruce Wayne on a personal level, through his friends and family, and on a professional level by pushing Batman to breaking point.
The character was an instant hit with fans and he soon became one of Batman’s most formidable foes. The storyline that brought him to readers’ attention is also regarded as one of the best contemporary Batman tales (it’s worth checking out if you have never read it).
Outside of the comics, Hush has appeared on television, in games and in movies. He received his first TV appearance in the live-action show, Gotham, and his first film appearance in the animated movie Batman Unlimited: Mech vs. Mutants (2016).
But his most notable film appearance to date is in the 2019 animated feature, Batman: Hush. The movie is an adaptation of the comic book storyline of the same name, and features many of Batman’s iconic villains, including the Joker, Poison Ivy and Scarecrow.
But who is Hush? What is his secret identity and what makes the film version of Hush different to the one who has appeared in comics?
Who is Hush?
In the 2019 direct-to-video movie Batman: Hush, the real identity of Hush is revealed to be Edward Nygma. Batman fans will be more than familiar with the name – Nygma is most commonly known as the Riddler.
In the movie, Hush’s identity is revealed during the final act of the film, paving the way for Nygma to explain why he has assumed a new persona. According to Nygma, he adopted the disguise of Hush after deducing Batman’s secret identity.
Armed with the knowledge of Batman’s alter-ego, Nygma realised he could bring about the Dark Knight’s downfall, but only if he changed his usual tactics. Instead of a direct attack on Batman, Nygma devised a plan to use the Caped Crusader’s foes against him, in a continued assault that would keep him distracted.
As the Riddler, Nygma wouldn’t be able to pull off such a plan, but as a new, more menacing villain called Hush, he would be able to work in the background. He then set about orchestrating a scheme from the shadows that would cause chaos for the Caped Crusader.
Those who have seen the movie will know that Nygma’s plan ultimately failed, but it wasn’t without a casualty. That casualty was Thomas Elliot – a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne’s who is murdered midway through the film.
For the purpose of this movie, Elliot is simply someone who has a connection to Bruce Wayne. His inclusion in the story is merely a plot device.
But fans of the comics will know that Elliot is much more than this. In the original comic book story by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, Elliot is Hush’s real identity.
So why the change?
Why was Hush’s identity changed for Batman: Hush?
When adapting Hush for film, writer Ernie Altbacker made a number of modifications to the story, including changing Hush’s identity. Rather than keep Elliot as the true identity of Hush, Altbacker opted to switch things around and make Hush’s alter-ego a little more familiar to audiences.
Altering Hush’s identity may not sit well with some comic book purists, but for the purposes of the movie it made sense. Unlike the comic which had multiple issues to establish and develop both Thomas Elliot and Hush, the movie only had a finite amount of time to set up the character.
By keeping Elliot as the main protagonist, the film would have had to condense the Riddler’s story or remove it completely. But by making the change, the film was able centre the story around a more iconic villain, which worked well for this particular adaptation.
In an interview with Comic Book Movie.com, Batman voice actor, Jason O’Mara explained the reasons why he believes changes were made to the story. This included fitting this particular take on Hush into the existing continuity of his previous Batman movies – of which there are a number.
He said: “While some liberties have been taken, I do think that even if it wasn’t part of this continuity, there would still have to be dramatic changes to the story because it’s just a different medium. This is a movie and it’s very different to telling the story in a comic book form so I think all the changes worked really well and if you’ve read the comic book before seeing the movie, you’ll still enjoy it and if you haven’t read the comic book, you’ll enjoy it just as much.”
Regardless of Hush’s new identity, the film adaptation would have had to make changes to the original source material. The comic made references to past continuity that had not been established on screen previously, so events would have played out differently.
For me, this new twist on Hush worked well and I liked seeing the Riddler as the main protagonist. But that still leaves the question, who is Thomas Elliot?
Who is Thomas Elliot?
As noted above, in the original comics Elliot is the mastermind behind Hush. He is a former friend of Bruce Wayne’s and a man that has harboured a grudge for decades.
Elliot and Wayne were childhood friends. Both were the offspring of wealthy parents and both were set to inherit a vast fortune, should anything happen to their parents – which it did.
Thomas’s parents were involved in a car accident which killed his father and left his mother severely injured. Bruce’s father managed to save Thomas’s mother, but this was not what Thomas had wanted.
Thomas had orchestrated the car accident – he wanted his parents to die. Because this didn’t happen, he developed a life-long hatred for the Wayne family, which ultimately became a hatred for Bruce.
In the comics, Thomas eventually took on the persona of Hush, and together with the help of the Riddler, he devised a plan to exact his revenge. That plan formed the basis for the Hush storyline highlighted at the beginning of this post.
Regardless of who is wearing the Hush mask, Hush’s greatest ability is his keen intellect. In both the comic and the movie, Hush devises a complex plan to defeat the Dark Knight and that takes the mind of a skilled tactician.
Hush attacks his victim through strategy, rather than through direct assault, using Batman’s greatest villains to cause harm. In the movie, Nygma draws upon the skills of Bane, Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Joker, Scarecrow and Clayface to achieve his goals.
He understands that while his intellect might be far superior than his contemporaries, he lacks the physical attributes to contain the Caped Crusader. It is therefore much more advantageous to wear Batman down through a series of attacks that can weaken him, or at the very least, catch him off guard.
So, who is Hush?
Hush is the foe who almost (but not quite) mentally broke the Bat.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Please feel free to take a look at other posts on I’ll Get Drive-Thru – a blog dedicated to Batman movies.
And while you are here, please feel free to tell me what you liked or disliked about Batman: Hush? Did you like the new twist, or would you have preferred Thomas Elliot to be under the Hush mask?
Whatever your thoughts, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.