It would be an oversimplification to say that the Lego Batman Movie delivered a more creative story than Batman v Superman. But it did. It would be unfair to say that fans will find more Batman culture and nostalgia in less than two hours of screen-time than in all the nearly seven hours of the arguably great Nolan films. But they will. It would be silly to guarantee that every Batfan of every age will find something to love about this movie. But I will.
In fact, if you don’t love The Lego Batman Movie, your heart is colder than Penguin’s ass, and your sense of humor is deader than Thomas and Martha.
Of course, comparing a serious takes on the Dark Knight to a slapstick ride through a fictional universe is not an even playing field by any means, but the core elements of the story in Lego Batman simply offer more buy-in than many fans have given some of the more recent live-action attempts. You’ve got a tale of the pop culture icon of Batman, self-obsessed as he arguably should be, set against a tongue-in-cheek conflict with his nemesis-life-mate, Joker, with an interwoven plot about an orphan trying to pursue his dreams of love and acceptance, with a peppering of positive feminism, healthy jabs at the comic, TV and film industries, and self-referential bells and whistles that will have people pausing this on home playback like crazy. Compare that to a poorly justified conflict of comic giants, desperately including an entirely different story arch as filler in its final act, teetering on the flimsy union of heroes who hook up simply because their moms share the same name, while one of their girlfriends both causes and resolves insignificant plot issues?
Yeah. It’s ponderous.
Sometimes it is a good idea to make fun of yourself, and nobody seems poised to set that stage like the LEGO films have. Every moment of this movie is part of either a good core story, or a mirror on the fandom. That’s a brilliant approach to film and a classically proven approach to comedy. While the gritty and hard-hitting DC Film Universe can’t do all of that in the same ways, it should be able to trigger the buy-in and the satisfaction of audiences in a similar way. Hell, fans even buy into the concepts in Gotham, and that isn’t easy for a large slice of the Bat-pie.
If you dig deep enough, you find the true crimes against the genre and the franchise that were committed by the Joel Schumacher films in the Batman series of the ’90s are corrected by this film. Lego Batman succeeds in spades where the Schumacher films fell flat on their ass — embracing campy fun in a way that almost makes fun of itself while forwarding a good story concept. What’s more, they somehow managed to involved more villains than Joel, and still succeeded. They even enjoy a ton of big names in the voice-over process.
Lego Batman even picks up a ball dropped long ago by the pre-millennium films –they cast Billy Dee Williams as Two-Face, closing a hole opened by the exciting placement of him as Harvey Dent in the 1989 Batman film.
Obviously, I think you need to see this movie. But it goes further than that. You must see this movie, just to be able to look around the theater at all the pleased expressions in the crowd. Instead of the good 20 percent who you’d swear are trying to figure out who just farted, at the end of a DC Films movie, you’ll see a collection of kids, from age 5 to 75, who just had the time of their lives, and had possibly waited their whole lives for it.