As a sequel to the well-received/awesome The Lego Movie (2014), its follow-up movie had big shoes to fill, and who else’s feet to use besides those of Lego Batman himself? It is odd for a sequel to focus only on one character arc when there are plenty of others, so it might be better to call this a spin-off, if anything. The film in question focuses on the life of a brooding adult figure who listens to loud music, beats up people who are down on their luck, and is a billionaire (for about 10 minutes of the whole film) while wearing a bat-themed costume. It’s Batman, of course, and if you have no idea who he is by now, then this is a good movie to watch.
Viewers are able to gain a general and/or expansive understanding of the character’s long history due to the references littered throughout the movie. The film is glorious in its self-awareness and utilization of every past iteration of the character, from the universe created by actor Christopher to Adam West’s interpretation.
The Lego Batman Movie focuses on Bruce Wayne’s (Will Arnett) brooding lifestyle, and his confrontations with villains and heroes alike, all of whom are seeking to form closer bonds. As usual, the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) serves as the main antagonist who wishes to have a better bond with his arch-enemy, despite the latter’s insistence that such a bond never existed in the first place. The Joker, upon realizing this, comes up with a plan to make his nemesis pay for his direct jab to the heart by exploiting the roots of good and evil. His plan includes the recruitment of the new commissioner of the police department Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), a team of villains from Gotham, and a team of villains from elsewhere (it would be a spoiler).
In his attempts to discover the Joker’s plan, Batman accidentally adopts orphan Dick Grayson (Michael Cera) and teams up with him to form a forced dynamic duo due to the insistence of Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Bruce Wayne’s butler and close family friend. The formation of these bonds is completely separate from the comics due to the comedic nature of the film, and that makes it all the better.
The film explores a satirical side of the “dark knight” while remaining completely self-aware of the origins of the caped crusader and his innumerable villains. It may even be considered a PG version of Deadpool (2016); similarities include the film’s release date, blatant disregard for the 4th wall in the credits, and the inclusion of a song all about the main superhero, which is predicted to become one of the funniest songs of the year (“… or you’re going to die, in five minutes.”). Batcave, similar to Wade Wilson’s reference to Batman when explaining Blind Al in Deadpool. The similarities continue into the reviews of both movies, as critics have said that the plot comes second-fiddle to the comedy and action that results in both The Lego Batman Movie and Deadpool. The main difference between the movie simply lies in the fact that one hero is animated and the other “never wishes his super suit to be”.
As another tale of Batman attempting to save his city from the forces of evil, this film is top notch, delivering action and well-placed one liners. Will Arnett is still a great Batman and has served the cowl well along with his new family of Robin (Cera) and Batgirl (Dawson). The animation is still on par with the original Lego Movie while upping the action factor to eleven and giving Batman the last word nearly every time. It’s a great dive into the psyche of the dark knight and gives the cast a fun ride through the plethora of Batman history.
The movie’s main issue lies in its spacing of jokes and action; both of these components work harmoniously for the first half of the film, while the latter half lacks the humor that made the first flawless. The Lego Batman Movie deserves a 9 out of 10 for being a self-aware film that emulates everything good (and bad) about the brooding vigilante that many have come to love, from the first film through to the other 77 years of adventures.
While this version of Batman’s story isn’t necessarily aligned with Zack Snyder’s vision for the DC Cinematic Universe, The Lego Batman Movie bests the two films that were actually intended for the DC universe. Hopefully, Justice League (2017) will be able to save the DC movie franchise – in the meantime, however, the Lego universe will continue to be the best interpretation of Batman we have seen in years. In the simplest terms, everything is still awesome, in Lego, with Batman.