When it was released, The LEGO Batman Movie delivered a solid follow-up to The LEGO Movie, packed with humour, heart and Bat-action on an epic scale. Six years after it arrived in cinemas, does it still deliver?
The LEGO Movie turns nine years old this February – can you believe it? I still remember lining up to see it on day one. No one knew what to expect, and in a way, nobody expected to be delighted. Given how few modern film adaptions of toys seem to have broken the mould (Barbie might manage it), it was a genuine shock to see the glowing reviews and praise. Everything was awesome, from the non-stop laughs and heartfelt story to the easter eggs intended for those eagle-eyed LEGO fanatics.
That first movie led to a spin-off before a sequel and The LEGO Batman Movie was an excellent follow-up to Emmet and company’s adventures. Here is why The LEGO Batman Movie is still a LEGO fan’s dream in 2023, even as Marvel sets currently dominate LEGO’s portfolio.
Building the Bat
LEGO fans may differ in what they look for from an animated film, but they can all appreciate an opportunity to get busy with the bricks. From brand-new fans to those who hold tables at LEGO events, nothing excites us more than great models and MOC opportunities. In 2017 and 2018, The LEGO Batman Movie spawned several fantastic official sets made up of locations, minifigures and vehicles seen in the film, including two Collectible Minifigures series.
That’s because The LEGO Batman Movie is positively stuffed with colourful characters and ground-breaking builds; including Wayne Manor, a visual that’s inspired LEGO MOC builders to make their own take. When The Joker takes over Wayne Manor in the second half of the film, gaudy roller coasters, a Ferris Wheel and even a massive neon sign are added to the concept. This was captured in LEGO form with the fabulous set 70922 The Joker Manor, for those who weren’t ready to MOC it.
Many of the stunning Bat-vehicles were made available as official sets, too –70917 The Ultimate Batmobile, 70908 The Scuttler and 70916 The Batwing were the major ones. All of these models were exceptionally detailed and intricate, a level above the regular DC Super Heroes fare.
Serious Bat-itude across the board
With a lengthy filmography that’s positively infested with killer comedies, Will Arnett has always stood out as a champion of his craft. And yet, winning an Annie Award for his role as BoJack Horseman was no joke. He also thrives as the host of the hit LEGO Masters US competition show, playing off the contestants using his years of acting prowess.
Take his years of experience and talent and put them into a 1.6-inch-tall plastic Batman minifigure (though surely, his ears make him slightly taller?). He rolls his eyes, microwaves lobster and even denounces seatbelts, with more than enough winning gags masterfully delivered from a winning script. He broods like the only bat in a cave, a reality that’s quickly broken by Alfred, Robin and Batgirl.
Michael Cera is a delight as Dick Grayson, an endearing orphan who’s long overdue for adoption. He just wants a family to call his own but winds up with a whole lot more – a Bat-dad with the coolest gadgets and tricked-out rides. Rosario Dawson nails it as the butt-kicking Barbara Gordon, adding confidence and heart behind the newest police commissioner turned superhero. Who better to tie it all together than Ralph Fiennes’ Alfred? A droll, proper performance and the perfect glue for a family without unity.
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The cameos we need right now
The LEGO Batman Movie features a plethora of supervillains from across cinema, flung out of the Phantom Zone and into Gotham to wreak havoc in the second half of the film. Of course, we see many of these characters in LEGO catalogues.
It’s everyone you’d expect and everyone you don’t. It comes just before the multiverse was popularised in film – and while The LEGO Movie is chock full of cameos, it doesn’t go all-out like The LEGO Batman Movie did. Lord Voldemort, Sauron, The Wicked Witch of the West, Daleks, and more step up to stop the Bat Family.
It’s a line-up we’re unlikely to see again as studios work to create their own multiverses from their own portfolios. Funnily enough, Ralph Fiennes (who plays Lord Voldemort in the Harry Potter films) plays Alfred here, now facing off against his past role. None of this would be possible without a script that’s not only hilarious and emotionally potent, but properly structured to make these cameos feel natural.
The animation style, carried on from and improved on The LEGO Movie, is superb. This is especially evident in one of the opening scenes; a visually spectacular battle ending in an explosive confrontation with The Joker (a killer Zack Galifianakis), which is filled with LEGO-brick destruction.
Reflections and scratches are just part of the charm. The expressions on various characters’ faces, particularly The Joker and Batman, are often extreme and fun, and show incredible attention to detail. It’s just a shame there isn’t more master building, as seen in the first LEGO film.
In the later stages of the film, Gotham is changed dramatically, pushing the limits of how great animated plastic bricks can look on the big screen. From glowing LEGO lava to flashy action effects, there’s a lot to appreciate as a LEGO fan, a budding animator or even an industry veteran. The attention to detail and use of sight gags (like the jab at Fifty Shades of Grey on a theatre marquee) could easily fill 20 LEGO instruction books.
To sum it all up, the official sets and MOCs spawned from the film, a fantastic voice cast that anyone can appreciate, ample cameos that are handled properly and high-quality animation make this film timeless for LEGO fans. It was excellent when it arrived in 2017, and remains so in 2023.