LEGO Batman – The Playful Knight

LEgo Batman_2LEgo batman and john

I never thought I would see the day when I am genuinely more excited about watching a LEGO Batman theatrical movie  than the next Batman live action movie

LEGO Batman, he’s a swell cat I tell ya, I even got to meet him one time when he was in Melbourne as you can see in the fabulously cheesy picture up there.

I just happened to be wearing a Batman T-shirt at the time of course, he waved me over but refused to sign my powerade bottle, explaining that his LEGO hands were too big to hold a human sized pen.

You can take the best Batman cosplayers in the world and frankly it bores the hell out of me.  I mean I respect what they do, the passion and the enthusiasm, but it just does not hold my interest.

But a photo with a life size LEGO Batman excites the hell out of me.  It speaks to that inner child that used to play with Kenner Super Powers Superman and Batman toys and the same kid who listened to read along picture books with an audio cassette that read the book out loud to you (and had cool sound effects). The two books I had when I wass a kid were TRON and Star Wars, both were AWESOME!

LEgo BAtman 2 Video Game DC Heroes Unite

Lego Batman is not the sort of thing I thought I would ever care about

I remember un-enthusiasticly playing with some LEGO bricks as a kid in a big plastic bucket along with other odd toys that got mixed into it, possibly some Playmobil.  Either that or the fisherman dude in the bucket was a giant.  It was fun I guess but I never really built anything, just sort of messed around with them.  When I was a teenager I had this cool LEGO set that could be built into a Formula 1 style racing car or a single seater biplane, both were pretty cool.

That is the sum total of my experience with Lego, which at this point means I have not touched a LEGO brick in at least twenty years.  When LEGO Batman (the LEGO toy sets) came along, I was not even aware of it.  I had seen the Harry Potter and Star Wars LEGO toys in shops whenever I went browsing for superhero action figures at Kmart and other chain stores, and was aware of the various licensed LEGO video games by Travellers Tales.

When Travellers tales released the first LEGO Batman video game, then I started to pay attention.  I had previously played only one of the TT LEGO games, the original Star Wars Trilogy LEGO game that I played for free and wrote about for an old video game review for a website.

LEGO Batman_3
Yeah, don’t leave your girlfriend alone with Batman, or this may happen

LEGO Star Wars was a fun but unremarkable game, most noteworthy for its two-player co-op which suited kids playing together, and the drop in- drop out co-op was also well suited for parents playing video games with their kids.  The LEGO games are mindless fun, relatively easy to complete but a challenge to find every item and unlock every character.  They are games that encourage replay, but can get a bit dull after a while, they really are made for and suit a younger audience.

The most memorable thing about the LEGO Star Wars video games were the amusing story scenes that played out throughout the game, giving a brief overview of the major events in the movies.  Like animated cliff notes really.  The cut-scenes had no dialogue, just expressions and sound effects.  By the time LEGO Batman arrived on the scene, the Travellers Tales LEGO video games now had voice actors, which meant that LEGO Batman 2 had a full voice cast, and the story scenes were good enough to be released separate from the game as a direct to market animated CGI feature with expanded content.

Fast forward a few years and the video game series is up to LEGO Batman 3.  LEGO Batman made a significant multiple scene stealing appearance in the theatrical The LEGO Movie, voiced by Arrested Development’s Will Arnett, next to Chris Pratt’s lead character (Andy in the brilliant Parks and Rec, Star Lord in the ever groovy Guardians of the Galaxy).

Lego-Batman-and-Superman

I know that the upcoming Superman v Batman or Batman v Superman (or whatever other nonsense click baiting name they come up with) film will be great fun, and I can’t wait to see it.  But however good or bad it is, every BATFAN has basically already seen it in our minds.

The story will be cobbled together from comics that have been around for donkeys years, there will likely be nothing new in the film, other than JLA member cameos building up to DC’s eventual JLA movie release.  If you want a JLA Year One story, well Mark Waid already wrote that comic series in 1998, it is a good read, and I encourage you to take a look at it if you have not already.

As much as I want to see Batman v Superman, I don’t expect anything new or innovative from the film.  However, the LEGO Batman solo movie, spinning off of the success of The LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman video games I am super excited about.  The Lego Movie not only had Batman as one of the main three characters, but cameos from Superman, Wonder  Woman, Green Lantern

LEGO Batman the Lego Movie_1

I’m a big fan of Arrested Development, as are my brother, sister and girlfriend.  There is barely a day that goes by that we don’t mention a quote or reference to Seinfeld and/or Arrested Development.  For people that don’t “get” those shows, saying to a fan you don’t like Arrested Development is like saying you don’t like oxygen.  It is just UNFATHOMABLE!

I am also a big fan of Will Arnett in pretty much everything, even the lesser Saturday Night Live vehicle movies with hit and miss gags I find are still pretty entertaining.  But my favourite Will Arnett appearances would have to be his minor roles in The Rocker, Blades of Glory and 30 Rock.  And his brilliant pairing with Christina Applegate in the TV show Up All Night.

In addition to numerous cameos in everything from 30 Rock to Parks and Rec and The Office, Will Arnett has been a decent voice actor in a surprising amount of animated theatrical features and video games.

Danny Phantom, King of the Hill, Ratatouie, The Simpsons, Monsters vs Aliens and more are on his resume, so it is not a bit surprise that he as was cast as LEGO Batman when you consider all the voice acting experience he has.

LEgo Batman_4
“Will this work?” Of course it will! “Why?” BECAUSE I’M BATMAN!

The LEGO Batman theatrical film will be something special, with a much bigger budget and a better voice cast than the direct to market previous CGI  LEGO Batman animated feature (the story scenes from the video game were released as a direct to market feature).

The success of the LEGO Batman games and animated spin offs also lead to the recent DC original feature, the mouthful that is LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League vs. Bizarro League.

The JLA LEGO animated movie is short at under an hour, but it is great fun, and again aimed at kids (but I watch everything).  This JLA feature is unique in that there is no video game it is directly based on.  It uses the LEGO DC characters as featured in LEGO Batman 2, and has a decent voice cast including the ever talented Diedrich Bader and John DiMaggio from the excellent animated show Batman: The Brave and the Bold.

LEGO JLA vs bizarro JLA DC Animated Feature

The strength of the LEGO Batman I.P. (and by extension the DC universe) is so strong now that new media can be born from it that has no connection to the LEGO toys at all, other than the basic look of the characters, instead trading on the visual recognition of the iconic LEGO character style, and immediate market value of Batman and the DC Universe.

One of the things I love about LEGO Batman is that it is a great introduction of Batman to kids that parents know will not sneak in any underhanded psychotic violence like other DC animated shows and features.  I don’t have any kids (yet), but when I do, LEGO Batman is something I would be very comfortable for them to enjoy, as a game, or movie or as toys, the I.P. is just really fun and I am super excited for the upcoming LEGO Batman film with that funny bastard Will Arnett.  More excited than Batman v Superman because it will be something fresh and exciting, rather than stale and predictable.

My girlfriend finds the Nolan-verse Batman films too dark and depressing, but she liked the Will Arnett LEGO Batman, and enjoyed The LEGO Movie so much that she went out and bought the Blu-Ray.  That is a testament to the good writing and fun humour in the film, but also the strength of the timeless look of the LEGO toys and characters, which are fun for kids, adults and man-children such as myself.

Lego Movie Batman_1

If you’re itching for more fun reading, head on over to my brand new blog *Pixels in my Blood (link in blue below), a blog about my favourite video games of ALL TIME.  It doesn’t have a “follow”” tab yet, but relax about it – there will be one soon enough dear reader.  Now if you will excuse me I have to get back to playing LEGO Batman 2, easily the best game in the series (yes, better than the dull levels of LEGO Batman 3).

*Pixels in my Blood

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