Batman is back, in the best form possible—LEGOs. The same sardonic Batman returns from LEGO movie to reveal that he never thought that the Joker was the enemy #1. Witty asides and many references create this romp through the Batman universe (of the old and the present) to see Batman realize that hey, sometimes working alone doesn’t always pay off.
In chat, we discuss our perspectives on LEGO Batman. The transcript below has been lightly edited.
taiche (Chris Tai): Boom!
jennism (Jenn Ng): Just like Lego Batman, which is what we’re here to talk about today
Did you love Lego Movie? I did.
taiche: Of course, it was AWESOME! EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!
Are we going to start with a comparison of LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman Movie?
jennism: I think that it’s quite appropriate, because people of LEGO Batman will likely think of its spiritual predecessor, which sets the tone. After all, Batman does make an appearance in LEGO movie as an all-powerful (narcissistic?) character, played for laughs
taiche: OK, for starters… I really feel LEGO Movie is a truly unique introduction into the LEGO world. There were elements that aren’t readily duplicated. The pathos, the parent-child connection, the real world “twist”… it would be a daunting task to try and replicate those parts in another movie. So right off the bat (haha!), I knew to expect a more straightforward adventure
jennism: Yes, it would have upended the movie to be—surprise surprise. Although the ending of the LEGO movie was what attracted me to the story in the first place. It’s not just a kid’s movie
taiche: People CRIED in the theater at a movie about plastic blox!
I might have also been a bit teary
jennism: But yet, because of that, I hoped that LEGO Batman would be the same, but I knew that it would be an impossible achievement, because the story really isn’t about the struggle of power, but rather the struggle of a person understanding family. A sort of coming of age thing, could have had potential to go that route, but hard to achieve without disrupting the character of Batman aka would the kid have been represented within in the character of Batman? that would suggest that the Batman’s egocentric character is within the kid’s personality
taiche: But it was certainly an opportunity to dispel the Batman mythos.
To change the tone of the franchise after Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice (what a mouthful)
To satirize the brooding, the solitude, the me against the world themes
jennism: Great fun to throwbacks. And super meta
taiche: A lot of people felt LEGO Batman was one of the highlights of the LEGO Movie… how did he do in his spinoff adventure?
jennism: An enjoyable ride across the batman series and a story of teamwork/family
taiche: I found it supremely fun in contrast to the recent spate of DC comic movies.
The jokes/minute rate was incredibly high. And so many references to so much Batman canon… still laughing at the Condiment King
WHO IS A REAL THING IN DC HISTORY AND NOT SOMEONE THEY MADE UP FOR THE MOVIE!
jennism: “Just google it” and we did! What LEGO Batman benefits is its partnership with the Batman franchise and the freedom in that storytelling
taiche: Plus the WB catalog which allows them to mine some villains from other franchises for even more zany-ness
jennism: It’s as if they picked the right place to do it with the greatest access to pop culture characters
taiche: It was that element that most reminded me of the first LEGO movie
jennism: The story is quite obvious—Batman likes to work _alone_, but eventually he finds that he cannot work alone effectively. He has to needs help to make things happen
taiche: I get that the theme is a little hammered in repeatedly, but I thought it was fine, and not just for a children’s movie. I very much enjoyed the whole cast of major characters. On some level, there may have been too many minor characters (the aforementioned villains from DC/WB), but the heroes were great… especially Michael Cera’s Robin.
jennism: An orphan! Shameless in his desire to have a family, which puts him at odds with Batman
taiche: But he’s also a type of audience surrogate… the wide-eyed wonderment of seeing Batman’s world. So much OMG!
jennism: In contrast to most Batman movies, especially the Christopher Nolan’s series, this version, although catered for kids, just said something more. Obviously not as dark. But where as the Christian Bale made us think: wow, he’s so brooding. he deserves to be a super hero. And aphorisms that seem to say something about the world, but don’t really. LEGO Batman achieves the ability to transcend that fantasy…to the reality
taiche: Were there real world implications or themes in the movie? Did it feel somewhat topical to our current society?
jennism: After all, what world exists without family. Not as overt I think. Working together is better than working alone, which is an ever present lesson
taiche: Thankfully LEGO Batman Movie didn’t feel the need to rehash in detail what happened to Batman’s family.
jennism: Sacrifice, perhaps. Interestingly, I recall a line from The Dark Knight movie, “He’s the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we’ll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he’s not our hero. He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.”
taiche: He’s the appropriate hero for our appropriate situation
jennism: The brooding was appropriately satirical
taiche: The movie had that Deadpool quality to it… constantly breaking the fourth wall, voice over, pointing out logical inconsistencies
jennism: What do you think of Barbara Gordon?
taiche: I thought she was the “weakest” of the main characters in that she’s pretty straightforwardly portrayed. In a sense, she was the grounded one while everyone around her was the comic relief.Clearly cut from the same mold as Wyldstyle from LEGO Movie. But she had her moments
jennism: Her hair always moved! She served as the audience’s mouthpiece aka “let’s have some logic here.”
taiche: Ralph Fiennes plays a pitch-perfect Alfred btw.
jennism: How does Ralph Fiennes compare to Michael Caine?
taiche: Interesting how they manage to get Oscar winners for the role of Alfred—the wise mentor and father figure. Well medium-aside, I thought they were comparable in their role of guiding Batman to the right place in the world.
jennism: Only British actors can do it the best. Imagine if they gave the role of Alfred to a British comic. Would it have worked? or would it have been not refined as Alfred is to be?
taiche: I don’t think that’s Alfred then…. he’s a prim and proper butler that is deeply loyal to Batman
jennism: Exactly. Interesting moment that Alfred desires to play Batman as well
taiche: Haha, they give him the old school Batman duds to wear
jennism: But I am guessing that there are a lot of references to details within the comics which weren’t articulated in TV series and movies
taiche: Until this one!!
Sooo many references… it’ll make me definitely want to spring for a home version of the movie so I can freeze frame everything
jennism: For the fans obviously
taiche: Like LEGO Movie, it’s a testament to the artists (brickbuilders?), animators, and production design people for making every shot an adventure in itself. I still get convinced that I’m seeing everything built out of LEGO blocks. They also clearly upped the animation levels… a lot more dynamic action, a little less “puppets on a string” which was somewhat intentional in the first movie.
PEW PEW PEW
jennism: That I appreciated, because that’s how guns will be shot when playing with legos! Many subtle elements of playing with legos.
Despite no live-action moment, I felt like this was a story that kids could potentially imagine up while playing with their LEGOs. Let’s not forget that one likely success metric is to sell more LEGO blocks
taiche: I slightly missed more of the “Master Builder” sequences… because of the focus of LEGO Batman as more of an adventure movie it didn’t have the haphazard creativity of construction that LEGO Movie had. There weren’t as many moments of “let’s build what we need right now out of LEGO bricks.” Since the world was already made of LEGO
jennism: Only once. But still it was a joyful ride
taiche: Oh absolutely, I was grinning throughout the movie. It’s proof that you can have a fun DC comic book movie
jennism: What do you think about future LEGO movies? What does this mean for the franchise?
taiche: Well, what I love about LEGO is how it can transcend franchises and bring together stories from different worlds. They have both DC and Marvel licenses for example! And not to mention the multitude of worlds they’ve already had. I’m a little surprised at Ninjago being the next movie, but I realize it makes logical sense. They’ve established that a LEGO movie works… then a major franchises licensed LEGO movie (will) work… so next would be a LEGO original franchises property movie
jennism: Why ninjago? A combination of ninjas…and django? Or just a rhyme with LEGO?
Whatever the case, LEGO is definitely taking advantage of their partnerships
taiche: I don’t quite know the origins.. but I know there’s an animated series
jennism: So much potential
taiche: Also if you ever get a chance, try the LEGO video games
jennism: Nothing has to be created from scratch, which is nice
taiche: LEGO Batman himself already has had several
jennism: But also it’s hard to work to make sure all those moving parts come together into a cohesive story
taiche: And I’ve always gotten a kick out of reviews that said “LEGO Batman is the best Batman game” or “LEGO Star Wars is the best Star Wars game” or etc etc
jennism: I wonder whose job it was during the production of LEGO Batman to have all the knowledge of Batman across multiple series, TV series, and comics…and other spinoffs. There is something special about LEGO, isn’t it?
taiche: It gives me hope that future movies can really take advantage of the world building and comedy elements and really make them go
jennism: It transcends ages and probably even genders. To build
taiche: It really does! Who would’ve thought at first glance though… a movie about building block toys
jennism: Exactly. But the whole movie replicates the imagination that is needed to play with LEGOs. Otherwise it’s just building blocks together. What’s the fun with that if there’s no story
taiche: I still hope to pick up a Benny’s Spaceship Spaceship SPACESHIP set in the near future
jennism: So SeeETThere?
taiche: And you know there are a bzillion sets that can come out of LEGO Batman. I might even buy the microwave and lobster thermidor… it was that awesome.
SeeETThere: 9/10 lobster thermidors
jennism: I can’t wait to try lobster thermidor myself, which apparently sounds very delicious
SeeETThere: 9/10 lobster thermidors
taiche: See It There for a rock and rolling outrageously fun adventure that has no qualms about poking fun at the Batman franchise. Even a brooding Batman is made enjoyable.
jennism: See it there for a story that cross-references all the pop culture references of Batman…while also giving us a lesson teamwork and family
taiche: It’s only hurt slightly by not having those greater moments of the LEGO Movie, but as we said previously, those are not readily repeated.
jennism: Will Arnett definitely elevated it with a twist of egomania and humility
taiche: Also worth seeing it in 3D
taiche: The voice cast is great and the songs are also awesome too.
jennism: I have to say that I am biased because growing up, I loved the Batman animated series, although I never read the comics
taiche: None quite as memorable as Everything Is Awesome.. but certainly fun nonetheless. It’s definitely up there with the best of Batman, including the Animated Series
jennism: A Batman fan would love this
taiche: So See It There as soon as you can! And rock out all the cameos and references. I loved a certain Eye and another Ralph Fiennes character
taiche: PEW PEW PEW!
Let’s do this again soon! Same Bat time, same Bat channel!
There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman wants to save the city from the Joker’s hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin and loyal butler Alfred can show him a thing or two.
Directors: Chris McKay
Writers: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Jared Stern, John Whittington
Stars: Will Arnett, Zach Galifianakis, Michael Cera, Ralpha Fiennes, Rosario Dawson