Warner Bros. Animation's Batman: Hush lands on DVD and Blu-ray Friday, telling an nuanced adaptation of Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee's 2002-2003 Batman run. According to screenwriter Ernie Altbacker, the changes to adapt the 12-issue story into a animated movie were grueling - but faced with that, he saw an opening to surprise long-time fans.
"I love the entirety of Batman's 'Hush' arc, but we had to get it down to 75 minutes and it turned out to be 80 minutes or so," said Altbacker. "We were going to have to lose things and so it was really hard. People were like 'That’s my favorite scene.' We can’t lose it, but by changing a couple of things some scenes fell out and it enabled us to keep everything we loved about 'Hush' and the tone of it but make it something that was animatable."
"Because of the problem we had with length I was looking for places where – in the story there are a lot of red herrings and I was like 'What would happen if one of these red herrings was the way we go and we can totally fake out the fans?'."
Batman: Hush is the directorial debut of Justin Copeland, after working as a storyboard artist since 2012.
"I was on Reign of the Supermen at the time, I was the head of story. They came in and said they were going to give me Hush, and I was like 'What, oh my God,'" Copeland said. "I had to sell it because for me it was like a full circle moment. Starting with the comic, I was trying to break into comics at the time, with the late nights staying up drawing. Then finally to get this as my directorial debut at WB was awesome."
Copeland worked under the wing of long-time WB director Sam Liu, and after storyboarding The Killing Joke adaptation he got his shot.
"I started with Killing Joke. I was one of the board artists on Killing Joke. Then they were like 'Bruce [Timm] really likes your work on Killing Joke,' and I was like 'Cool. I want to be a director, that’s my goal is to direct.' Sam [Liu] brought me under his wing. He made me his head of story, and just kicked the crap out of me until I learned."
With Batman: Hush done and out on shelves worldwide, Copeland already has another Batman adaptation he'd like to do.
"One of my favorite series that we’ve done from a while ago was 'No Man’s Land,'" said Copeland. "That Batgirl is one of my favorite characters. But we serve to the president. So, whatever they tell me that’s what I got to do, but that’s the dream. What would be dope is if we did it like a Spider-Verse feature – that could be next level. They know I want to do that. I stopped bothering them about it, but that’s my dream gig."
Batman: Hush is a dream gig in itself for Geoffrey Arend, who is stepping in to voice the Riddler.
"I was a fan of the Batman 'Hush' storyline, and when I found I was going to play The Riddler I was very excited," Arend said. "He’s a small part, but he plays such a big part of getting all these bad guys together. This story is so cool. It gives us the romantic Batman that we’ve kind of wanted to see with Selina Kyle. It gives us the emotional point going back to his childhood. It puts him on the ropes. It’s good to see Batman falter a little bit. He’s such a sociopath, to see him get nervous is really fun."
Longtime Batman voice actor Jason O'Mara returned for Batman: Hush, and says that even after all these years there's unfinished business about his version of the character he wants to explore.
"There are some unanswered questions about his relationship with Damian," said O'Mara. "I think that’s going to have to come full circle somehow. I think that’s always been integral to this run. I think something has to happen with this Justice League and some of those relationships. Although, I do feel like Batman and Superman got a lot of mileage out of those Superman movies that just came out, Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen."
"So, yeah, I think it’s more personal for him. It all boils down to Damian, and I don’t know if that’s something that will ever be resolved, whether it will be sooner, later," O'Mara continued. "How long this is going to go on for? Certainly, I’m going to ride it for as long as they ask me. But this does feel like a high water mark, Batman: Hush, for this continuity. I’m trying to not think of the future. I’m just trying to enjoy this for what it is."