The Lego Batman Movie may be the best crusader movie since the Christian Bale trilogy. With countless gags and cinematic references to everything from Adam West to Suicide Squad, Lego Batman has a unique and refreshing self-awareness that will appeal to all ages.
A lonely Batman, the ideal crime fighter, is now forced to work on his relationships with others, be it with friends or with villains. Audiences have seen Batman fight psychopaths, steroid jocks, and criminal kingpins, but in this interpretation, we see him deal with his own insecurities. For a movie made out of children’s construction blocks, it is a remarkably touching story.
Will Arnett, reprising his role in the original Lego Movie, delivers a captivating and hilarious portrayal as Bruce Wayne/Batman, with over-the-top voice acting perfectly suiting this incarnation of the character, while Michael Cera does an excellent job in portraying Batman’s loyal sidekick, Dick Grayson/Robin.
And of course, what would Batman be without the Joker? Played by Zach Galifianakis, we see a less psychotic and more traditional Joker who just wants recognition for his criminal talents. Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, and Conan O’Brien also make cameo appearances throughout the film.
Mainly focusing on the DC Comics Lego universe, with some extra characters thrown in for fun, Lego Batman handles the source material far better than other recent DC cinematic renditions; Batman’s costume closet alone references various incarnations of the Batman from over 70 years of film and comic history. If you happen to know a lot or even a little about DC comics, you will enjoy the myriad of references and characters included in the film, which is itself a celebration of Batman’s history.
Lego Batman is similar to The Lego Movie, but has enough original ideas and style to give it its own identity. It’s less of a sequel and more of a spin off with its own themes, characters, and plot. While Emmet in The Lego Movie dealt with the value of self-worth, Batman struggles to find the value in others.
Despite Batman’s sometimes difficult personality traits — arrogance, self-absorption, broodiness — he discovers there are some problems that can’t be overcome alone, and to save the day he must place his trust in others. The Lego Batman Movie highlights the importance of teamwork, reminding us that it can serve even the greatest detective in the world.
Batman has never been presented so authentically, and we can only hope that his next live action outing learns from this charming and honest Lego incarnation.