Three years ago, The Lego Movie came as a surprise to those who thought only Pixar and Disney were capable of making quality animated films; or that animated films have to be sadder than a clown funeral. The Lego Movie not receiving an Academy Award nomination is one of the greatest injustices in Oscars history. Even more so when you factor in that it was miles better than any other animated film released in 2014, and should have taken home the statue.
Batman was the breakout star of The Lego Movie, so it makes sense he got a spinoff, and the box office success proves it. A lot of reviewers have used this as an opportunity to take shots at Warner Bros. for their most recent batch of DC films, because they like to kick people when they are down.
Emmet Brickowski from The Lego Movie was a blank slate, but Batman has a nearly eighty year history to draw on, and I think the writers covered most of it. Some people like to think it’s easy to knock out a Batman script, but a lot of deep sweat went into Lego Batman. When uber-nerds like Patton Oswalt have to consult Google, you know the writers have done their research. All of this pays off with a story that is elegant in its simplicity, yet totally bonkers. And all the while, it remains true to the characters.
The Joker (Zach Galafianakis) believes himself to be the Caped Crusader’s greatest nemesis, but Batman (Will Arnett) says he’s not. So, Joker–with the help of some friends–sets out to prove Batman wrong. It’s a perfect plot for a children’s movie, and if you really think about it, it’s not out of character for either of them.
The secret weapon of The Lego Batman Movie is Michael Cera, who is the voice of Dick Grayson/Robin. Robin is the heart of the film, and if the character doesn’t work, there is no emotional center. And yes, it is a bit odd to be discussing a Batman movie in those sorts of terms.