The LEGO Batman Movie is the first spin-off from The LEGO Movie, the surprise hit animated film from 2014. As in the latter, the former takes a satiric spin on Batman and a majority of the DC Comics universe with appearances from practically every villain from the Dark Knight’s history, even The Condiment King, who was a throwaway joke from Batman: The Animated Series. The LEGO Batman Movie has just about everything a Batman fan could ever want in a movie, while it also has a lot of heart and genuine character moments that are missing from the current DC Extended Universe films from director Zack Snyder and screenwriter/producer David S. Goyer.
From the very start, The LEGO Batman Movie pokes fun at every aspect of the modern blockbuster’s fascination with “dark and gritty” stories, as it takes the next step at how too much darkness can spoil the image of a beloved superhero. The film opens with a fun action scene of The Joker (Zach Galifianakis) teaming up with every villain from Batman’s rogues gallery to bomb Gotham City, only to have Batman (Will Arnett) come in at the last moment to save the day.
The Joker and Batman get into a great battle for the city, as the Crown Prince of Crime admits how much he enjoys fighting him in an eternal struggle between good and evil. Batman, on the other hand, doesn’t have the same feelings towards The Joker, as he tells him that he means nothing to him. This, hilariously, breaks The Joker’s heart because he believed that he was Batman’s #1 enemy. The Joker is now determined more than ever to make Batman realize that they need each other as a hero and a villain.
Afterwards, the Dark Knight is celebrated throughout all of Gotham City as its citizens idolize the Caped Crusader. Batman is on an all-time high, just before he returns to the Bat Cave/Wayne Manor to find himself utterly alone. The LEGO Batman Movie completely gets the sad and emotional dark side that comes with being Batman more than any other Batman movie. And smartly, instead of finding peace in a romantic relationship with someone like Vicki Vale, Selina Kyle, or Rachel Dawes, Batman finds acceptance and love from his surrogate family, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson), and Robin (Michael Cera).
While the film’s story is a little overlong and complicated for a children’s movie, The LEGO Batman Movie gets to the center of Batman’s pain of losing his parents and his overall need for family. Instead of focusing the movie on saving the day, which features another “Giant Blue Sky Beam,” Batman’s story arc involves him accepting the people around him for who they are. Batman is a better person, not because he saves Gotham City, but rather he’s part of a family. Although this was a theme in Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, The LEGO Batman Movie places it front-and-center as Batman’s real goal. And in that way, it’s a rare Hollywood “block”buster.