The most accurate part of the show is that Zeus being horny destroys everything.
In the beginning there were the Titans. The Gods came next, smiting the Titans, but in response the Earth spawned the Giants. Eventually, the Giants were banished to the underworld and the Gods began to rule over humanity.
Heron (Derek Phillips) and his mother Electra (Mamie Gummer) live outside of a modest Polis in Greece. He and his mother are shunned because the city has been covered by clouds since the day they arrived. The only one who seems to care about them is a local old man (Jason O’Mara). However, it turns out that Heron is actually a son of Zeus, and that he is one of the only things that can stop the army of demons, people who have eaten the flesh of the dead Giants, and their leader, Seraphim (Elias Toufexis). Also, Zeus’s affair to produce Heron ends up causing him to have to deal with an angry Hera and a ton of other terrible stuff.
This is a soap opera, but, let’s face it, so is most of Greek Mythology. There are secret siblings, long-lost relatives, and affairs everywhere. Also, the Gods are even more dysfunctional than they are in most of the media adaptations. Zeus cheats on his wife so much that Benjamin Franklin probably had his picture on the wall as an inspiration, but I don’t think his wife ever went Hera’s route and constantly tried to kill his lovers and children. Hera killing someone because of Zeus’ d*ck was a leading cause of death in ancient Greece, slightly behind “plague” and before “Sparta” (come at me, Spartans). If there is one thing this show gets right, it’s the fact that mythology was the equivalent of trashy reality television as often as it was about epic tales of heroic deeds.
The rest of the story, though, is a blend of the generic mythology storyline. Demons are trying to awaken the giants and kill humanity and the Gods are forbidden to directly interfere… except that they absolutely will break that rule by lawyering it to the point of absurdity. I know that you didn’t see the movie Immortals, and you’re the better for it, but that’s almost exactly the plot of it. Both even have Zeus pretending to be an old man to mentor a kid. They also both end with pointless casualties as a result of the gods not being able to interfere until too late in the story. The rest of the film, though, contains the kind of scenes of the Gods looking down over humanity and the weird and fun imagery that’s reminiscent of Clash of the Titans.
The show is pretty ambitious in its scope, going through a really large amount of story in under four hours of total screen time. The animation is highly stylized, but I think it’s pretty great. It’s reminiscent of the animation in Castlevania, which makes sense as they’re from the same studio, but it’s distinct enough to be its own animal. The voice actors do a great job of adding extra layers of emotion when the dialogue might have fallen short.
One of the most famous modern stories from Batman is adapted into an animated film and it raises a lot of questions about adapting a 2-volume long story arc into an 80 minute film.
Bruce Wayne/Batman (Jason O’Mara) is at a dinner where he runs into the recently-returned Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Jennifer Morrison) and his childhood friend Thomas Elliot (Maury Sterling), only for it to be interrupted by a report of Bane (Adam Gifford) kidnapping a small child. It’s quickly revealed that someone is manipulating Bane, and a host of other villains from Batman’s Rogues Gallery, in a complicated attack upon not only Batman, but also Bruce Wayne. At the same time, Batman and Catwoman finally decide to get together, but Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle are having a harder time.
If you’ve been liking the recent DC Animated Films up until this point, you’re probably going to like this. I actually think it’s one of the more well-paced adaptations that they’ve put out, mostly because it’s focused solidly upon Batman and his inner struggle to find a balance between his work and his growing love for Catwoman. Even more so than most of the comic books, the film also puts a lot of effort into exploring that she’s having a similar struggle. After all, she is a thief who steals because she loves it, something that doesn’t exactly make you an ideal partner for a crime-fighter. This dynamic has been featured in many of the film and television versions, but I admit that this one was especially well-done. Actually, aside from the Batman: The Animated Series version and some of the comic book runs, this might be the best take on their relationship (assuming the Arkham Games are part of BtAS).
The animation is basically the same as the other current DCAU, but I actually think they did a great job of emphasizing the differences between the scenes where Bruce Wayne is in charge and the scenes where Batman is in charge. When Bruce is considering things as Batman, the tones all darken appropriately without it really impacting the scenes, but it’s not done so blatantly that it gets annoying or feels like the artists are shouting “SYMBOLISM!!!” The voice-acting is on point, since it’s pretty much the same cast as before.
As a movie, I think the story here is pretty entertaining, since it contains a new criminal mastermind who seemingly attacks both Bruce Wayne and Batman at the same time. This thematically intertwines well with the issues that he’s having with being both Batman and Bruce Wayne in his relationship with Selina/Catwoman. Ultimately, he does try to resolve the conflict in his personal life, only for his vigilante life to keep driving a wedge between them. Still, having the central plot and the emotional plot both address the issues that come from breaking down the walls between the secret identity and the superhero one makes the movie feel much more coherent. One scene even shows the extent of the connection between the mask and the man when Batman savagely beats the Joker (Jason Spisak) for murdering Bruce Wayne’s friend to the point that Commissioner Gordon (Bruce Thomas) has to threaten Batman to get him to stop. Also, it’s always good to have a movie where a huge number of Batman’s rogues’ gallery make appearances that don’t feel like they’re just pointless cameos.
However, what I think is simultaneously the best and worst part of the movie can only come after the spoiler-warning, so I’ll just do the wrap-up here:
This was a fun movie for me, even if it wasn’t what I thought it would be at first. It told a solid story which balanced emotional moments with action and mystery. If you’ve never read the Batman: Hush comic, I recommend this movie. If you have, I also recommend it, but for different reasons. Give it a shot if you’re a fan of Batman.
This is really a major spoiler, so I’m giving you yet another chance to avoid this. I’m telling you now that if you think just because you read the comic book that this is based on that you can’t have things spoiled, you are wrong.
This isn’t Batman: Hush. Sure, it has lots of elements of the story that are similar, but the fact is that the identity of Hush is completely different. In the comic, Hush is revealed to be Thomas Elliot, a brilliant surgeon who has been holding a grudge against Bruce Wayne for most of his life because Thomas Wayne, Bruce’s father, saved the life of Elliot’s mother after Elliot tried to kill his parents in an accident. The film seems to follow this for a bit, even including the iconic scene in which the Joker is framed for killing Thomas Elliot, prompting Batman to almost murder the clown prince of crime. However, while the comic shows Elliot to be alive and the actual identity of Hush, the movie directly averts this by having Batman find Elliot’s corpse a second time, decayed and rotting, revealing that no, Elliot is ACTUALLY dead. It turns out that the Riddler, who was Hush’s partner in the original, is actually Hush in this version, explained by him wanting to get revenge on both Batman and Thomas Elliot, because Elliot couldn’t fix his brain tumor. Instead, the Riddler used a Lazarus Pit and, similar to the comic, the madness that followed gave him the ability to deduce Batman’s identity. He then used a new identity to try and destroy Batman and Bruce Wayne. Rather than being threatened into silence, however, this version shows the Riddler being killed by Catwoman and that being what drives them apart rather than her potentially being involved in the plot.
So I have to ask, is it wrong to do a change like this? I actually thought it was brilliant. The plot still works with the Riddler secretly being Hush and it actually made the ending feel more interesting to me, someone who read the source material. Additionally, just setting up the reasons behind Thomas Elliot’s plot would take a lot more screen time, potentially another 20 minutes depending on how it’s conveyed, but the Riddler just hating Batman and all the other villains due to them treating him like a joke is conveyed in about 2 sentences and completely works for the character. It’s a great storytelling change, it makes the movie flow better, and, most importantly, it means that the audience isn’t JUST getting Hush. Think about the film adaptation of The Killing Joke. Aside from the awful opening act, the rest of the movie was a faithful adaptation of The Killing Joke… to the point that almost nothing about it was surprising at all. Most of the film was just the comic panels animated. The only exception that really stands out, and the best part of the movie in my opinion, is the Joker doing a musical number to torment James Gordon, because that’s at least something that is unique to the movie. So, even though this movie might not have exactly faithfully adapted Hush, it gave us something that isn’t just a carbon copy of what we could already have read. Hell, if you liked the movie, you could, and should, read the comic and find out how much more complex and elaborate the plot in the source is.
An adaptation doesn’t have to be just a shot-for-shot rehashing of the source, but it does still need to capture the core of the source. I think this adaptation managed to do that. I know a lot of people who love the character of Hush will probably disagree, but I think this still worked.