Warner Bros. is developing a LEGO Cinematic Universe, building on the critical/commercial success of The LEGO Movie. The next installment will be the LEGO Batman spinoff, featuring Will Arnett reprising his voice role as the eponymous character and LEGO Movie‘s animation co-director Chris McKay calling the shots on a film that asks the question: Can Batman ever really be happy?
There were a few (LEGO) DC superheroes besides Batman who made appearances in the first LEGO Movie, so it stands to reason that they can cross-over among different LCU films, much like their live-action counterparts in the expanding DC Cinematic Universe. It remains to be seen if LEGO Superman (Channing Tatum) and/or LEGO Green Lantern (Jonah Hill) pop up in LEGO Batman, but it seems the Caped Crusader’s famous sidekick will for certain make his LEGO-verse debut in the film.
THR is reporting that Michael Cera will voice LEGO Robin in the LEGO Batman movie, based on the depiction of the character in the script by Seth Grahame-Smith (Dark Shadows). Arnett and Cera will portray the Dynamic Duo in LEGO form in early 2017, after they reunite for the fifth season of Arrested Development – seeing as the next round of misadventures with the Bluth clan is currently projected to debut on Netflix first, around mid-2016 or so.
LEGO Batman is expected to retain the same self-referential comedy elements of the first LEGO film installment, as LEGO Movie directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller (who are producing the Batman spinoff) have teased that “every era of Batman filmmaking will be acknowledged” in McKay’s movie. As such, it’s a reasonable bet that Cera’s LEGO Robin will be as awkward as many of the actor’s previous live-action roles (Arrested Development in-jokes also seem like fair game). Alternatively, LEGO Robin could be a dim-witted wild child, recalling Cera’s self-effacing performance when he played ‘himself’ in the raunchy apocalyptic comedy This is the End.
LEGO Batman is far from the first kid-friendly spinoff for a hit franchise that revolves around a popular side character(s), following on the heels of recent vehicles like Penguins of Madagascar and Minions. The commercial success (or lack thereof) of such spinoffs aside, though, the question is whether or not Grahame-Smith (whose screenwriting track record isn’t all that impressive) and McKay (making his big screen directorial debut here) can make something interesting of what was originally a concept that only needed to sustain limited screen time.
Lord and Miller, who are overseeing construction on the LEGO film universe, have indicated that it’s due to related reasons that they are not going to direct movies like LEGO Batman themselves: they want each LEGO installment to have a unique voice and identity, as shaped by the filmmakers behind them. The casting decisions and details revealed so far show promise, so this may be an indicator that LEGO Batman will amount to more than just a LEGO Movie riff headlined by Arnett’s LEGO counterpart.
LEGO Batman opens in U.S. theaters on February 10th, 2017, followed by Ninjago on September 22nd, 2017, The LEGO Movie Sequel on May 18th, 2018, and possibly Billion Brick Race on May 24th, 2019.