Building Him Up to Break Him Down

How The LEGO Batman Movie is a deeper character analysis than any recent live-action movie featuring the superhero. *Spoiler-free thoughts*

The plans are laid out immediately in the high-impact romp through LEGO Gotham (and surprisingly other LEGO worlds). All the pieces are on the table. Will Arnett is once again as dry and macho as ever, proving that Batman is both a true Master Builder in the LEGO-verse and a true A-hole in the DC comic-verse. Because he’s Batman, after all.

The movie combines source material and creative flair ridiculously well. Pulling from virtually every character in Batman lore, the movie first punches audiences in the face with shameless epicness, to then dive deep into what makes the main character such a perfect target for over-the-top satire.

Instead of just bringing into light what makes the character tick, the movie grabs hold of why Batman exists and how he continues to exist. The deeper aspects really put Batman in tough scenarios where he has to be stereotypically dark in a colourful world, eventually leading him to clear character growth, especially if audiences were to look at the story seriously for whatever reason.

While other Batman movies have adapted the character in incredibly interesting ways, the LEGO version gives the storytellers more creative license to poke fun at previous versions of the character in pop culture, as well as longstanding character dynamics.

In true Batman movie tradition, The Joker is one of the most satisfying aspects of the story. The movie puts the spotlight on the character’s drive to be Batman’s main villain. The hilarity is in how unappreciated The Joker feels when Batman fights other villains, and especially when he fights Superman—who isn’t even a villain at all. The movie comes back to the joke consistently to give the villain a sharp focus, while giving audiences a ton of laughs. Ultimately, The Joker cares so much about what Batman thinks of him that it becomes a full-on bromantic obsession. To contrast that, Batman just doesn’t care about anything other than himself.

Batman’s ego as a lone vigilante moves the plot along in reaction to The Joker’s desperate master scheme, but the moral of the story is how Batman needs to work with others in order to save the day. “You can’t be a hero if you only think about yourself”. It’s a simple message executed effectively for families, kids and even brooding adults who are fanatic about the other serious versions of the character.

As a whole, the movie is a celebration of every Batman movie or TV series—ever—while creating a new story in an outrageously creative world. Thankfully, the story’s foundation never falls apart.

It goes to show that a simple, core focus on what makes the title character distinct can build an increasingly action-packed movie. The filmmakers just so happen to do it with toy bricks. The LEGO Batman Movie is a success that future live-action portrayals of the character can definitely learn from. This isn’t to say that every Batman movie needs to be packed with laughs, but they could use a little simplicity. He deserves the spotlight, after all. Because he’s Batman.

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