The Lego Batman Movie Is DC’s First Good Theatrical Release Since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

by
The Lego Batman Movie Is DC’s First Good Theatrical Release Since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

The Lego Batman Movie Is DC’s First Good Theatrical Release Since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

DC has been struggling hard to keep up with Marvel in recent years.  Sure, their bottom line doesn’t look that bad, but it’s been nothing to brag about either.  Across the board, their movies have fallen increasingly far behind their chief rival both critically and financially.  Even their most ardent supporters are failing to drum up much enthusiasm for previously anticipated movies like Wonder Woman and Justice League.

The tides, however, appear to be changing.  They just released a new Batman movie that is their highest rated theatrical release since 2008’s The Dark Knight and cleared more than $100 million in just over a week of release.  The only problem is that its hero is made from plastic.

The Lego Batman Movie Is DC’s First Good Theatrical Release Since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

The Lego Batman Movie — a spinoff of 2014’s surprise hit The Lego Movie — follows the adventures of Lego Batman as he tries save Gotham City from his jaded frienemy The Joker.  After being rebuffed by Batman once too often, the Joker unleashes the Lego-verse’s greatest supervillains — including Voldemort, Sauron and an army of Daleks — on Gotham to destroy it once and for all.  Too big a job for even Batman to tackle by himself, he is forced to swallow his pride and join forces with Robin, Bat Girl and Alfred to save the city.

I don’t mean to downplay The Lego Batman Movie‘s tremendous accomplishments by constantly undercutting them in comparisons to the struggling DC Cinematic Universe, but like the recent animated DC movies, the chief-most reason for its success comes from its creators understanding what, at his core, Batman is about.

The Lego Batman Movie Is DC’s First Good Theatrical Release Since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Batman isn’t a sociopath with a branding iron and a leather fetish.  He isn’t an avenging spirit looking to lay some bottom-feeding criminals low for transgressing the law.  He isn’t a hard-rocking, hard-hitting superhero who “has the coolest gadgets [and] the tricked-out ride [and] never skips leg day.”

Who he is — who he really is — is the man who would apologize to the baby he just saved for having failed to save his mother.  He is the man who would “stay with [Harley Quinn] all day, risking [his] butt for somebody who’s never given [him] anything but trouble” because he “know[s] what it’s like to try and rebuild a life, [because he] had a bad day too once.”  He is the man who, despite every protestation to the contrary, desperately needs a family in his life.

The Lego Batman Movie Is DC’s First Good Theatrical Release Since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

Despite the new movie’s window-dressing and Lego aesthetic, they absolutely nail this fundamental truth about Batman: he is far more than the adolescent playboy he pretends to be.  The crux of the narrative is him accepting that he needs the eye-rollingly silly Bat-family every bit as much as they need him: that a nocturnal life of crime-fighting is not fulfilling in of itself and that he needs to acknowledge the important people in his life if he is ever going to keep them.

The fact that virtually all of the movie’s jokes are directed toward the grimdark turn that the live action character has taken in recent years and revitalizing the sillier aspects of the franchise (can anybody say Condiment King?) is testament to this fact.  Batman isn’t invited to any of the Justice League parties because nobody likes a moody buzz-kill.  Although he’s a super-serious crime-fighter who busts skulls for a living, he still watches rom coms while sadly turning to the empty chairs beside him wishing to share the experience with someone else.

The Lego Batman Movie Is DC’s First Good Theatrical Release Since ‘The Dark Knight Rises’

It feels fresh and original in ways that the character hasn’t been for nearly a decade.  And it accomplished this by doing nothing more than taking the character back to his roots: what makes Batman Batman.  Everything else great about this movie stems from this point: including its deconstruction of popular Batman iconography and loving callbacks to the 1966 Adam West series.

Like The Lego Movie before it, it is a funny, intelligent story with a lot more going on under the hood than its commercial trappings initially suggest.  In a year busting at the seems of promising-looking movies, I would be shocked if The Lego Batman Movie didn’t make my best of the year list.  It is an exceptional comedy and superhero film come at a time when neither are feeling too exceptional anymore.  This is not one to miss if you can help it.

Save

Start a Discussion

Main Heading Goes Here
Sub Heading Goes Here
No, thank you. I do not want.
100% secure your website.