While Ben Affleck continues to struggle with his incarnation as the Caped Crusader a Lego Minifig just gave us the best Batman film since The Dark Knight. Taking a page from Deadpool, Lego Batman delivers a scathingly meta take on the brooding superhero, somehow encompassing all known iterations of Batman, even the one with nipples.
The Lego Batman Movie takes place in the same shared universe as The Lego Movie focusing on the wisecracking overconfident superhero who is also a Masterbuilder. While saving Gotham to accolades as Batman, he lives a very solitary existence as Bruce Wayne in Wayne Manor. As Alfred points out this is due to his fear of family thanks to his origin; which thankfully is no where to be found in this film (Sorry Martha). Everything changes of course when Bruce Wayne accidentally adopts an orphan, as Commissioner Gordon Steps down and we are introduced to his daughter Barbara Gordon who will be taking over his duties.
Just as Barbara announces her plan of cooperation between the police force and Batman at Jim Gordon’s retirement, the Joker turns in every villain in Gotham, including himself. Without his arch nemesis, Batman becomes obsessed with trying to figure out what the Joker’s true intentions were in this strange move. It’s a premise on its own that seems pretty boiler plate for a Batman adventure, but thanks to the genius of the Lego universe it forces Batman to take on a group of enemies he could never defeat alone.
The scathingly sincere parody of Batman thanks to Will Arnett is the thing that this film gets so right and drives the narrative. Given how many varations of Batman we have seen over the years and how dark the latest incarnation is, this is really the only direction to go. Thankfully the script is up to the task as it mines Batman’s influence on pop-culture for its rapid-fire jokes while still taking time to give us some welcome superhero moments. One of my personal favorites was as Batman asks if he can call Barbara Batgirl, she digs back ‘only if she can call him Batboy’. That coupled with the twist if you will of Joker’s master plan really gives Batfans more than they could ever want as Batman is truly forced out of his element.
Running concurrent with its message about relying on others and family is one of the cleverest films since, well the first Lego Movie. It’s the fluid way it deals with its story, while mixing in characters and properties that makes this a very dense film that will take a few viewings to truly digest all the jokes and call outs. Its a shared universe for the younger set that’s hilarious, heart-felt and unrelenting in its humor; for both adults and children. Lego Batman is a strong start to the year and will undoubtedly enjoy a lengthy stay in theaters. Just do yourself a favor and check this out before you get spoiled on the fun twist, because everything is still indeed very awesome.