With yet another attempt by DC to get their DC animated universe off the ground not doing nearly as well as they wanted both financially and critically ( except for Wonder Woman which was good, but then that was by a different director… take note DC), you would be forgiven (then beaten up by Lego bricks) for failing to realize that a good DC movie did come out this year in the cinema. A film that not only looks at the entire history of one of its most iconic characters but also understands more about him than modern movies and the outright insults that DC have been doing with him.
When the Lego movie came out a few years ago, it proved you could do a movie about actual toys and make it a really good movie (up yours Transformers and emoji) with its lovable and fun cast of characters. To some one of the stand outs was Lego Batman. It was amusing to see this somewhat parody of the super serious Batman in a film, so much so he got a spin off.
The Lego Batman movie continues that parody of what some fans and media like to portray Batman as, this super competent amazing guy who can do everything alone and failing to read about 90% of his history in doing so.
The first scene has him beat up all of his villains while singing an edgy rock piece and refusing to say Joker is his greatest foe, preferring to say more action villains and Superman ( amusingly since Dark Knight Batman hasn’t faced him and in the DC attempted cinematic universe they threw him up against Superman rather than Joker). Batman in this movie wonderfully acts as if he believes all the hype obsessive fans put about him, openly calling himself awesome in fact that opening song was all about how awesome he was.
But here’s the genius of the Lego Batman movie, it doesnt ignore Batman’s history. It goes all the way back to his initial appearances. This means that rather than looking at what a person thinks Batman should be, we see what Batman is. Rather than picking and choosing pieces of information we see the big picture (yes even Adam West).
The version of the joker here is VASTLY better than the one in Suicide Squad. We see him after all these years facing Batman. Acting as someone in a long term relationship hugely hurt and begins a plan that if I was to explain it, would leave out one of the best bits in the movie…. but I will explain it given how genius it is.
The joker manipulates Batman to get a device so he can get into the Phantom Zone. In there is not DC’s greatest villains, but the universes’ greatest: Daleks, Sauron, Voldemort etc. This is the next big joke on what Batman has become – as the over saturation of Batman. (Because DC keep failing when not doing Batman, except for that really good Green Lantern cartoon, but that got cancelled).
So what did they do. Rather than give other super heroes the limelight they started throwing Batman into places he shouldn’t be diverting Batman further from what he should be (he’s a fricken detective DC). So we see Batman thrown against things he shouldn’t be and it destroying Gotham and what saves the day – Batman working with those that are from his set of stories to save it.
Of course this misses out the whole family aspect when Alfred confronts Batman over the fact he is really afraid of actually being in a family again because of the fear of losing them. We get some great interactions between Batman and Robin who here is his adopted son (adopted through the course of the film), Barbara Gordon as the new commissioner who points out Batman though good at beating up crime, hasn’t stopped it and of course Alfred as the sensible man.
Lego Batman is a brilliant microcosm of Batman. It gets Batman more than all these live action adaptations have in years and manages then to look at him in ways all these so called more realistic versions have failed to.
My only point of annoyance is with Brexit Lego became more expensive just before the sets came out (and that’s probably as political as I’m ever going to get in these reviews).