Batman: Hush remains one of the most popular storylines in the character's history, nearly 20 years after its first issue was published. Beyond giving art god Jim Lee a chance to draw nearly every Batman hero and villain, the story featured crowd-pleasing sub-plots. The romance between Batman and Catwoman and the resurrection of Jason Todd were so popular that other writers picked them up and ran with them.
As popular as Hush was, it wasn't without its issues. The Riddler's involvement in the titular villain's plot rankled fans who considered it out of character. In the course of adapting Hush to the DC Animated Universe, the 2019 animated movie improved upon the comic by making Riddler its central villain.
In the comic, writer Jeph Loeb revealed that Hush was Bruce Wayne's childhood friend, neurosurgeon Thomas Elliot. Elliot resented that Bruce's father saved his father's life when they were children, foiling his plan to collect his inheritance. Elliot would become a recurring thorn in Batman's side, going as far as stealing Bruce Wayne's identity after his disappearance in Final Crisis, a plot The CW's Batwoman television series adapted.
The Riddler's role in the plot was revealed in its epilogue. He was the actual brains behind the operation. That included revealing Batman's secret identity to Elliot, which Riddler learned after he used the Lazarus Pit to cure himself of brain cancer. Even though The Riddler should have the ultimate leverage over Batman, Batman wasn't afraid.
Revealing Batman's secret identity to the world would make it a riddle everyone knew the answer to. The Riddler couldn't accept that, negating his threat to the Dark Knight. Batman playing to the compulsive part of The Riddler's personality to maintain his secret identity makes sense. It also allowed Loeb to maintain Batman's status quo.
That resolution still doesn't square with The Riddler's need to be the smartest guy in the room. Revealing Batman's identity to the world would give him ultimate bragging rights, even if it would also draw the ire of the League. The fact that he worked with Elliot instead of toying with Batman by himself was also odd.
The Riddler taking on Hush's identity was the biggest change the movie made to the source material. The Riddler killed Elliot, antagonizing Batman and getting revenge on Elliot for refusing to treat his brain tumor. Like in the comics, Batman ultimately deduces The Riddler's involvement when he realizes he was using the pseudonym Arthur Wynne, the inventor of the crossword puzzle.
Like the comics, The Riddler's dip in the Lazarus Pit helped him deduce Batman's identity. His plot endangered the people closest to Batman, including placing Catwoman in a death trap at a steel mill in the movie's finale. The duo ultimately defeated the Riddler in battle, with Batman's last blow leaving him dangling over a vat of molten metal.
Catwoman ensures that The Riddler will never reveal Batman's identity when she cuts the line he's dangling from as Batman tries to pull him up. That gives them a chance to escape from the burning steel mill, but it also causes the break up of their romance, as Batman's inability to compromise his moral code becomes an irreconcilable difference.
The DCAU adaptation of Hush's decision to make The Riddler its sole villain was a bold change from the source material. It did the character justice his last-second reveal in the comic didn't afford. Fans can only hope that The Batman follows its lead with its use of the character as the lead antagonist who may know Batman's secret identity.
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