The LEGO Movie, released in 2014, stood out amongst its fellow children’s movies that year thanks to its standout visuals, excellent voice cast, and most important, a self-aware sense of humor that worked for viewers both young and old. The LEGO Batman Movie had to not only live up to its predecessor’s reputation, but also the lore of the character that it was focusing on, and it has managed to somehow exceed all expectations.
There are going to be a slew of articles about how The LEGO Batman Movie is the best Batman movie, and while I wont pretend that it is fair to compare an animated movie aimed at children to, say, The Dark Knight, I would be hard pressed to argue against its place as the best modern Batman story. That self-awareness that made The LEGO Movie work so well returns, with a sense of Batman’s place in pop culture over the past 80 years, and more importantly, a knowledge of what makes Batman interesting.
The more recent screen adaptations of Batman, and by recent I mean the last 40 years or so, have featured Batman in the role of the dark, brooding, hyper-masculine loner. The LEGO Batman Movie does the same thing, with Will Arnett’s interpretation of the Caped Crusader poking fun at the ridiculous nature of the “serious” superhero, before embracing everything in the Batman universe that makes him actually enjoyable, which is his colorful cast of eccentric villains, and especially his supporting cast, the Bat-Family.
That last aspect, Batman’s supporting cast, is the major thing that The LEGO Batman Movie brings to the table that has been sorely under represented in his movies. Sure, Alfred has been consistently present, but the more outlandish Batgirl and Robin have been almost completely removed from the equation, due to the idea that their presence might somehow detract from what makes Batman cool. The big problem with this is that the Bat-Family is what keeps the hero sane and on the right side of his crusade.
Thankfully, The LEGO Batman Movie has all sorts of characters from the Bat-mythology coming out of the woodwork. Robin, Batgirl, Joker, and a slew of other wacky villains all make an appearance. The voice cast is incredible, with Rosario Dawson’s stern but sincere Barbara Gordon, and Michael Cera’s lovable Robin as the two stand outs. Even minor characters in the grand scheme of the film, such as Jenny Slate’s Harley Quinn, manage to feel like something special.
While The LEGO Batman Movie manages to be another fun addition for the LEGO franchise, it stands out best when operating as a love letter to the Batman mythos. I was not exaggerating when I said that it very well might be the best modern Batman story, as it takes a magnifying glass to what makes the character so special, while also having a really great plot that feels like a definitive story for the character, even if it does take place in a world where everything is made of plastic bricks. The LEGO Batman Movie is released in theaters on February 10th,… which is today, so I don’t know know what you’re waiting for.