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"The Lego Batman Movie" Is A Satire And A Celebration

Written by Ashley Leckwold on Thursday, February 09 2017 and posted in Reviews

The Lego Movie spin-off pays tribute to the near 80 year old character by poking fun at his weirdness.

Source: Warner Animation Group

I swear, the one thing nerds like to debate more than if Batman could reasonably beat Superman is which of the various portrayals of Batman is the best. With a film and TV history spanning all the way back to 1943, everyone has an opinion on which silver screen Batman is the best one. (Even me. It's Kevin Conroy in Batman: The Animated Series.) For The Lego Batman Movie though, it's not really about trying to outdo any of the previous holders to Batman's legacy, but rather be a loving rib at everything that makes Batman the Dark Knight that he is.

The Lego Batman Movie takes place sometime after The Lego Movie with Will Arnett reprising his role as Batman. Without any doubt, Arnett is the main pull of this movie, and he manages to sustain the show-stealing performance from The Lego Movie with an extra amount of emotion piped in at the appropriate places. Bojack Horseman has really proved Arnett's voice acting chops, but he really does get to shine well here as an extra "so silly he doesn't realize how silly he is" kind of Batman.


Most of the voice cast along with Arnett is stellar. Michael Cera and Ralph Fiennes, as Robin and Alfred respectively, are particularly inspired. A sentiment I haven't really shared about Cera since his performance as Scott Pilgrim, but his wide-eyed happy-go-lucky turn at Dick Grayson is particularly sweet, even if the character's design is more reminiscent of Carrie Kelly. As for Fiennes, he actually gets some of the biggest laughs of the movie with his super dry turn on Alfred, showing that he is indeed Batman's father figure through and through. Rosario Dawson as Barbara Gordon is also a surprising, yet perfect, choice, playing skeptic to Batman's way of doing things from the start. Putting her in the position of being the new police commissioner actually does a lot of good to shake up the expectations of how the story beats of a Batman movie are supposed to go.

The Rogues Gallery of the movie gets the biggest chunk of the film's impressive voice cast. I mean, it's a veritable who's who of modern comedians. And Billy Dee Williams finally gets to play Two Face! However, Zack Galifianakis isn't particularly memorable as The Joker, sad to say. Within the confines of the film, he does a good job playing up Batman's weird need for The Joker and I would even go so far to say that he's clearly channelling a bit of Mark Hamill for his performance. However, compared to how much Arnett stole the show as Batman, it doesn't really hold up as well.


Not to mention the casting directors still haven't corrected a massive wrong from the past 20 years of the various Batman franchises: Bane was still played by a white guy. Which, hey, Doug Benson's impression of Tom Hardy's performance of the character from The Dark Knight Rises is funny. I will give him that. It still feels like they could have gone the direction of making fun of Hardy's weird Patrick Stewart impression with a Latinx voice actor though.

Jenny Slate as Harley Quinn is divine though in the little we get of her though. From her design to her roller skates, which I will choose to believe is a shout out to current comics canon where Harley is a roller girl, Harley might just be the showstealer of the rogues gallery. Well, her and Zoë Kravitz making me straight guffaw as Catwoman. If there are plans for a Lego Batman sequel, maybe have the Gotham City Sirens be the main villains?

The plot does a good job combining the heart of The Lego Movie with a message about family that has sort of been missing from the past decade of Batman movies. You would think with as many wards and counterparts Bruce Wayne has taken on over the years, you'd actually get more portrayals of Dick and Babs instead of this whole "Batman works alone" schtick. Luckily, Lego Batman is more than willing to turn that on it's head. There are some very touching moments that come out of it, but mostly it pokes at Batman's obsession with solitude until they find what comes out of it.


In fact, that's a lot of what the film does. It's a tribute to all the weird and lovely things about Batman's pop culture impact over the years, but it also teases the hell out of them. With all the news about how much of a shakeup there's been with the production of The Batman, it's nice to have a Batman movie that isn't just trying to ignore the weird, but actively acknowledges it and embraces it. From the second a minor character early in the film made a joke about "that time with the parade and the Prince music," I knew that this was going to be my kind of movie.

The Lego Batman Movie does a great job at bringing heart to a franchise long in need of it. With a great voice cast and a story that allows itself to have fun at Batman's expense, it becomes a movie that isn't just a satire of Batman films, but a loving tribute as well. If you love all things Batman and not just when Nolan makes him dark, The Lego Batman Movie might just be the franchise addition you've been waiting for.


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About the Author - Ashley Leckwold

Ashley Leckwold is a writer based out of Atlanta who is the cross-section of a magical girl and a demon queen. She has done a whole other host of weirdness, including work at Steampunk Chronicle, Nerdophiles, the Ratchet Retrocast, The Rainbow Hub, PopOptiq and the Killer Queen and 27 anthologies published through Red Stylo Media. Most of her current work is non-fictional and found at her blog as well as Graphic Policy. She can often be found on Twitter at @misskittyf crying about comics, TV, pro-wrestling and music.

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