With The Batman now in theaters, fans have been buzzing over Matt Reeves’ grounded approach to Gotham City and his reimagining of the Riddler. There is currently no sequel in the works, but the director has stated that he’d like to bring Hush to the big screen at some point.
Considering the groundwork laid in The Batman, that’s hardly a surprise. But who is Hush?
His name is emblazoned across the screen in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment in the blockbuster, and there’s another potential reference to Hush in the film – but more casual fans may not have recognized its significance.
Who is Hush, and what are the mysterious villain’s connections to Bruce Wayne, Catwoman, and The Riddler? We’ll break it all down now.
Who is Hush?
Hush was created by Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee as part of 2002-2003’s 12-issue story Batman: Hush (opens in new tab), in which a mysterious foe attempts to destroy Batman by manipulating many of the Dark Knight’s friends and foes including a childhood friend of Bruce Wayne, Thomas Elliot. Elliot would eventually be unmasked as the eponymous Hush, but his story has been expanded on in the last twenty years.
Like Bruce Wayne, Thomas Elliot was also born into a wealthy family. His father was abusive to Thomas and his mother, causing the child to harbor resentment towards both of his parents.
This discontent would soon boil over as Elliot severed the brake line on his parents’ car with the ensuing crash killing his father – though his mother was saved by Dr. Thomas Wayne. This would begin Elliot’s grudge against the Waynes, as Thomas Wayne ruined his attempted murder of his mother, and he would only become more violent as time progressed, even beating a boy so badly while at summer camp that he was admitted to a psychiatric ward.
Following the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, Elliot begins to see Bruce’s life as the one he should have lived. He longs for the independence and wealth that Bruce now has, growing even more frustrated that his attempt to get out from his parents’ thumb had been thwarted.
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Elliot cares for his mother, but when she threatens to cut him off from the family fortune because she doesn’t approve of the relationship he’s in, he smothers her with a pillow, has her lawyer killed, and destroys her will. He would get his inheritance, after all.
Elliot then attends Harvard University, becoming a surgeon while his obsessive bitterness toward Bruce Wayne festers. Following a Lazarus Pit renewal, Edward Nygma aka The Riddler becomes aware of Batman’s secret identity. He attempts to sell this information to Elliot, but Elliot decides it would be better for them to team up to take down the Dark Knight, leading to the creation of the Hush identity.
Despite setting up an elaborate plot to destroy Batman that involves Catwoman, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, Clayface, Superman, and even the supposed death of Thomas Elliot himself, Hush and Riddler are unsuccessful.
While Hush possesses a genius level intellect and is a master of strategy, neither he nor Riddler counts on the fact that Harvey Dent might betray their agreement after facial reconstruction surgery allows him to (temporarily) shed his Two-Face persona.
Before Harvey’s intervention, Batman is unable to unmask Hush – though he does recognize the villain’s penchant for quoting Aristotle and stories about their childhood together as reminiscent of Thomas Elliot.
Hush in the DC Universe
With his quest for vengeance unfulfilled, Hush eventually returns to Gotham.
This time, instead of teaming with all of Batman’s rogues, Hush essentially declares war on them. He beats Riddler and Poison Ivy almost to death, and drives the Joker out of the city – but Bruce Wayne remains his number one target. Hush teams up with Clayface and frames Alfred Pennyworth for murder, but Clayface double-crosses Hush when it becomes obvious the villain is manipulating him for his own means.
When Joker returns to Gotham, he captures Hush and implants a pacemaker in his heart, forcing Hush to turn to his most-hated enemy to help him – Bruce Wayne. Bruce agrees to help him, but only in the confines of Arkham Asylum.
Hush relents to the request – but unfortunately for Batman, he breaks out of Arkham as soon as he hears that the pacemaker has been removed. Hush goes to hunt down Joker to get his revenge, but he’s stopped by Batman who reveals that he never removed the pacemaker from Hush’s heart, leaving Hush and the Joker to fight each other.
Hush eventually removes the pacemaker on his own and spends some time recovering, going on to perform plastic surgery on himself to make himself look nearly identical to Bruce Wayne.
He helps stop the secret criminal organization known as the Black Glove from killing Batman as he believes that is his right alone. He then teams up with Scarecrow to attempt his own assassination of the Dark Knight, planning to kill and disfigure Bruce Wayne then take over his identity, kill his closest associates, and retire from crime-fighting with the Wayne fortune.
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Turning his attention to Bruce’s loved ones as a way to attack him, Hush cuts out Bruce’s former lover Selina Kyle/Catwoman’s heart, leaving her on life support at Gotham General Hospital.
Batman tracks down the villain and is attacked with a paralytic gas while Hush heads to the Batcave to kill Alfred. Alfred holds his own against Hush, and Batman overcomes the effects of the gas while Hush makes his escape, though Batman manages to save Catwoman.
After recovering from the wounds he sustained, Hush uses his Bruce Wayne-like appearance to steal money from Wayne Enterprises – but is eventually taken into custody by a recovered Catwoman.
From here, Hush embarks on a long, complicated string of attempts to subvert Bruce Wayne’s identity, nearly succeeding during the events of ‘Batman RIP’ in which the real Bruce Wayne was presumed dead, again teaming with a variety of other villains before finally being locked away in Arkham seemingly forever.
During the ‘New 52’ reboot era, Hush enacts a new plan to destroy and discredit Bruce Wayne in the story Batman Eternal (opens in new tab), turning public opinion against Wayne Enterprises leading to the US government taking control of the company for a time before Hush is defeated by Alfred (again).
Hush resurfaced in the DC Rebirth era repeating one of his old tricks with a new twist, having gotten plastic surgery to resemble Dick Grayson/Nightwing in an attempt to replace him in Batman’s inner circle.
Naturally, this plan failed – but in a much weirder way than usual for Hush. In this case, he was shunted to a pocket dimension, where he became embroiled in the Multiversal machinations of the villainous Psycho-Pirate.
Hush’s most recent scheme involved kidnapping members of the Bat-Family with the intent of selling their organs on the black market, but he was stopped by Batman and Damian Wayne.
Hush in the DC movie universe
Matt Reeves has mentioned that he would like to see Hush on the big screen and considering the character’s connections to both the Riddler and Catwoman, that could be in the cards (pun only partially intended, given the character who got a surprise cameo in the film).
If Reeves plans to ramp up the story he started in The Batman, which concluded with Riddler very much alive and in custody, and Gotham City changed by the presence of Batman and his enemies, Hush could be the perfect villain to tie the threads laid down in the film together into a concise picture – while also opening the door to even more Bat-villains to make it to the screen thanks to his penchant for team-ups and his wide-reaching schemes.
Like we said at the top, The Batman even has a brief Easter egg for Hush in which the screen displays the words “Hush Money,” and the film also features an investigative reporter named Edward Elliot who is digging into the Wayne family’s past – a likely connection to Tommy Elliot/Hush, given his own obsession with the Waynes.
A man obsessed with money, power, and Bruce Wayne, the man who seemingly has it all, would be ripe for adaptation in Reeve’s gritty, realistic portrayal of Gotham. In the words of Hush’s oft-quoted favorite philosopher, “Well begun is half done.”
Does Hush belong among the list of the best Batman villains ever?