Written by Kyle Hughes
“Lego Batman” is the tangential expansion of the world “The Lego Movie” created in 2014. Its animation, referential humor and energy are on par with its predecessor. It has that same love of and care for the world it creates. But “Lego Batman’s” characters are its strongest element. This movie is what every superhero movie should aspire to be.
The heart of why these characters are so endearing lies in that they don’t take themselves too seriously. Because of this, a better-sculpted truth is revealed in their arcs.
Batman’s loneliness is amplified in several ways. In the first fight against Joker, Batman plays a comedic, ego-stroking song that not only helps him fight off Joker’s henchmen, but also the empty feeling he will have to go back to afterward.
Batman beats Joker but doesn’t win this fight. Joker cuts at Batman’s ego by saying Batman needs him to retain his identity. However, Batman says he doesn’t need anybody. Thereby further shaping his isolation and establishing the fear that he will be exploring for the rest of the movie. He can’t let people into his life because he is afraid of being hurt.
At Wayne Manor, Batman eats lobster alone and while each echoing crunch is funny, the juxtaposition between a meal reserved for special occasions and no one to share it with help build on the fear Batman is grappling with.
Robin helps him to develop after Batman absentmindedly adopts him as his son. Robin is the antithesis of Batman. He wears his emotions as bolding as the colors of his costume. Robin wants nothing more than a loving family. Batman fights this.
He doesn’t allow Robin to call him dad and uses him to steal and lie so he can get back at Joker. But in all the time Batman spends with Robin we see him opening up and learning how to be a Parent. This manifests in everything from realizing the Batmobile needs seatbelts to beatboxing with Robin to cheer him up.
Alfred gets enough screen time as well. His small reactions to Batman over the duration of the film say and mean a lot. Alfred’s sighs at Batman for not confronting his fears, his frowns when Batman falls short and the modest smiles when Batman gets something right not only help to cement Alfred as the father figure but help guide the viewer through each act of the film.
The only character that doesn’t get enough development in Barbara Gordon. We only get a couple of scenes with her early on. She becomes Commissioner and then there are a couple small moments where she fails to get Batman to team up with her.
But outside of that we barely see her until the climax of the film. So, later when her character is supposed to have clout, she doesn’t. Her poignant words to Batman don’t have the impact they should.
But overall, “Lego Batman” demonstrates a love for its source material. That’s why the characters are likable and the comedy funny yet poignant. It’s not afraid to embrace the long history nor the camp nature of superheroes. It has fun playing with them.