THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
Phil Lord and Chris Miller, the directors of The Lego Movie, have departed (although are also present as producers) and have handed over direction to Chris McKay who was an animation supervisor on the first film. McKay was a director on tvs Robot Chicken (2005 ) and is next announced as director of a live-action Nightwing film. The script comes from a number of writers. The name that caught my attention was Seth Grahame-Smith, the novelist who wrote Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2009) and Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2010), which were filmed as Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter (2012) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), as well as the original screenplay for Tim Burtons Dark Shadows (2012).
The Lego Batman Movie takes everything that The Lego Movie was and makes it bigger and more colourful. There are times the camera pulls back to show the numbers of characters and elements interacting on screen at the same time and the results are quite mind-boggling. The action moves at a whiplash pace. The film has a palette that seems to uses every colour of the spectrum at once. The opening sequence has a blur of colour, action and lightning paced humour that quite blows you away, not the least of which involves Batman having his own song (part of which includes the weaving in of the nana-nana theme from the Batman (1966-8) tv series), throwaway gags with pilots doing rock-paper-scissors with actual paper and scissors, and Batman lecturing The Joker that he doesnt do ships. Oh and not to mention that the first five minutes of the film manages to get in cameos from every Batman villain ever created, including from the 1960s tv series. And that doesnt count the opening credits, which feature Will Arnetts gravelly Batman voice breaking the fourth wall and rather hilariously commenting on the studio logos as they appear. It is the most energy and humour-packed opening sequence I have seen in any film in recent memory.
The screenwriters seem to have set out to have as much fun with the Batman franchise as possible if anything, The Lego Batman Movie should be considered less a Batman film than a parody of Batman. It feels like a bunch of Batman fans that have sat around and determined to have as much fun as possible, throwing in every gag they can possibly think of. Batman ridicules the flaws in The Jokers previous schemes, which happen to be the ones that took place in The Jokers big-screen appearances in Batman (1989) and The Dark Knight (2008). There are even jokes about the Bat Shark Repellent from the Batman (1966) film which comes in a throwaway gag that has a witty playoff later in the show. There is a montage where we get to see Lego versions of every single incarnation of Batman on screen, while Alfred adopts the guise of the tv Batman as he joins the party to go into action. There are cameos from a host of other Justice League characters during the visit to the Fortress of Solitude. The most fun comes during the scenes where The Joker releases the villains from The Phantom Zone, which include everything from King Kong, Bruce the Shark from Jaws (1975), The Eye of Sauron from The Lord of the Rings, The Wicked Witch of the West and her Flying Monkeys, the Gremlins, the Daleks from Doctor Who (1963-89, 2005 ), the Agent Smiths from The Matrix films, and Voldemort from the Harry Potter series.
If you could take the film seriously (which absolutely positively you cannot), the quibble might be that it plays free and easy with the Batman mythos. Dick Grayson gets a different origin not to mention that his background as the child of trapeze artists whom Batman decides to adopt has been excised and Barbara Gordon, while she is Commissioner Gordons daughter, actually becomes his replacement (which she never has been in any comic-book incarnation) and only adopts the Batgirl costume towards the end of the show. Wayne Manor is now located on an island in Gotham Harbour, while Batman demonstrates a passion for heavy metal music and playing guitar in his free time, which are both entirely new aspects of the Batman mythos we have never seen before.
The other Batman films and tv series are:- Batman (1943) and Batman and Robin (1949), two 15-chapter serials from Columbia; the campy tv series Batman (1966-8) starring Adam West and Burt Ward, which produced one film spin-off with Batman (1966); the animated tv series The New Adventures of Batman (1977-8); Tim Burtons superb duo of films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) starring Michael Keaton, and Joel Schumachers dismal campy follow-ups Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), featuring respectively Val Kilmer and George Clooney, followed by Christopher Nolans fine revival of the franchise with Batman Begins (2005), The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012) starring Christian Bale, and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) with Ben Affleck; the excellent animated series Batman (1992-4) inspired by the Tim Burton films and its follow-up The New Batman Adventures (1997-9), which spawned several film spin-offs with Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993), Batman and Mr Freeze: SubZero (1998), The Batman Superman Movie: Worlds Finest (1998) and Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman (2003), as well as the later DC Universe Original Animated Movies Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (2009), Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010), Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010), Batman: Year One (2011), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part I (2012), Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part II (2013), Batman: Assault on Arkham (2014), Son of Batman (2014), Batman vs. Robin (2015), Batman: Bad Blood (2016), Batman: The Killing Joke (2016) and Batman and Harley Quinn (2017), as well as Batman: Gotham Knight (2008), a compilation of anime Batman shorts; Batman Beyond/Batman of the Future (1999-2001), the futuristic follow-up series from the same creative team featuring an aging Bruce Wayne and his young apprentice, which also spun off one animated film Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker (2000); the animated series The Batman (2004-8), which badly revised the basics of the series and was also spun off into a film with The Batman vs. Dracula (2005); two further animated series Batman: The Brave and the Bold (2008-11), which placed Batman alongside other DC superheroes, and Beware the Batman (2013-4); the live-action tv series Gotham (2014 ), which tells the origin stories of the familiar characters and villains as Bruce Wayne grows up; the animated films Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (2015) and Batman Unlimited: Monster Mayhem (2015) spun off from a line of action figures; and the animated Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders (2016) featuring a return of Adam West and Burt Ward. Batman also makes appearances in the line-up of superheroes in various other DC-related animated series such as SuperFriends (1973-7), The All New SuperFriends Hour (1977-9) and Justice League/Justice League Unlimited (2001-5), as well as the films Justice League: The New Frontier (2008), Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths (2010), Justice League: Doom (2012), Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox (2013), Justice League: War (2014), Justice League: Throne of Atlantis (2015), Justice League: Gods and Monsters (2015), Justice League vs Teen Titans (2016) and Justice League Dark (2017). Other spin-offs include the short-lived live-action tv series Birds of Prey (2002), featuring the women of Batman a paraplegic Batgirl, Cat Womans daughter and Harley Quinn and the Halle Berry starring Catwoman (2004), while Robin appears as a member of Young Justice (2010-3) and Suicide Squad (2016) features a team-up of DC villains including The Joker and Harley Quinn. The Batman-Robin relationship is also excrutiatingly spoofed in the Superhero Speed Dating segment of Movie 43 (2013). Also of interest is Batman & Bill (2017), a documentary about the unacknowledged co-creator of Batman, Bill Finger.