When it comes to the superhero genre, just about everything has been covered. We’ve focused on the B-list heroes, the villains, and even given some time to super questionable match-ups (Superman would flatten Batman in a fair fight…it’s just true).
And yet, somehow in the midst of what would appear to be peak superhero saturation, the greatest superhero movie of the year has appeared in the last place you’d expect…among building blocks.
Enter: “The LEGO Batman Movie”
LEGO Batman picks up where just about every Batman movie ever has left off, orphaned billionaire Batman/Spoiler Alert: Bruce Wayne (Will Arnett) is kicking butt and taking names of any villain who dares try to mess with his town, Gotham.
The only difference is this time it’s a pseudo-sequel to “The LEGO Movie.” I use the word sequel really loosely. It’s really more of a Batman sequel than a LEGO sequel. One of the amazing running gags in the movie is it treats itself as a sequel to every Batman movie ever made and it’s glorious.
The absolute best part of this movie is that it stays LEGO. Although I appreciate what its LEGO predecessor was trying to do with its jump to reality, that trope has no place in the world of LEGO Batman. Here our hero takes himself and his solitary crime fighting very seriously…despite the best efforts of his butler and adoptive father, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes), who is continually trying to get Batman to confront his repressed fear of family. Allusions to any world beyond that of Batman are few and brief…as they should be. There’s no room for reality here. Batman barely lets his guard down enough to remove his mask, I can’t imagine him being controlled by anyone other than his own super-focused, super-self.
It’s only when Bruce unwittingly adopts Dick Grayson/Spoiler Alert: Robin (Michael Cera) and loses (one of his) greatest enemies, the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) to prison that he starts to realize that maybe there’s more to life than just fighting bad guys.
Will Arnett, of course, revives his role from “The LEGO Movie” and adds a Batman to the DC Universe that I would hold up against any of the others who have lent their performances to the role. Seriously. No snark here. He’s fantastic.
Every snarky thought you’ve every had about the plotline of Batman is in this movie. But it’s never irreverent, just honest, smart, and painfully honest at moments. If you’re a snarky comic fan (I know it’s redundant) this is the Batman movie you never knew you needed.