Sure, in the world of LEGO and Unikitty everything is awesome, but the reality of Batman’s history has more bad guys than a trip to Arkham Asylum. Literally putting the dark in Dark Knight, Batman has faced just about every horror imaginable since his black and white days in Detective Comics. As the world around us has grown more macabre, so have Bruce Wayne’s stories. With readers demanding more murder, more mayhem, and more madness, we have delved deeper into the grimy underbelly of Gotham City to dredge out the horror within. It's not exactly in keeping with LEGO's family values, is it?
It's very likely we'll see a sequel to The LEGO Batman Movie, but with its rainbow-colored ending, where will Bruce and his Batfamily go next? Let’s just hope that the sequel sticks with LEGO Batman’s theme tune of “Friends are Family” and steers clear of 2012’s comic book Death of the Family. With Batman and Joker kissing and making up, we need a new foe on the scene-- presumably someone to make the Phantom Zone look like a daycare center.
So, darker than Will Arnett’s Batman wardrobe, here are the 15 Stories Too Dark For LEGO Batman 2!
15 Bane Breaks Batman's Back
As possibly one of the best-known Batman injuries, Bane snapping Bruce Wayne’s back is surely too grim for inclusion in the plastic fantastic world of LEGO, right? Coming straight from the comics in 1993’s Knightfall, the graphic storyline had Batman finally defeated by one of his most underrated foes. As part of Bane's legacy, we then saw the storyline brought to life with the usual somber tone of Christopher Nolan’s bleak Dark Knight trilogy before Christian Bale's Wayne underwent some R&R in the Lazarus Pit jail.
Over in Legoland, Doug Benson’s portrayal of the masked beast sounded an awful lot like Hardy’s rasping tones of Bane, but would McKay really make us watch Brucey get his back snapped like a twig? The Dark Knight Rises did it pretty darn well, and with LEGO Batman openly mocking the dark Nolan era, the inclusion of such a storyline would be far too dark for a further outing. Plus, after the first LEGO Batman, it is now hard to imagine Bane as anything other that a well-spoken monster in a fur coat.
14 "The Long Halloween"
Tim Sale’s moody art would be enough to scare the kiddies away, but pair that with Jeph Loeb’s story of family holidays being interrupted by a masked killer and a red flag should fly. Heralded as one of the definitive Batman graphic novels, The Long Halloween saw the return of Calendar Man and also introduced the bloodthirsty killer Holiday. It certainly has the ensemble cast of a LEGO Batman movie, but with Christopher Nolan citing The Long Halloween as a particular influence on The Dark Knight, yeah, it probably isn’t the best story for the Under 12s.
Set over a series of months, The Long Halloween included the massacre of an Irish mob on Thanksgiving, more restaurant murders that The Godfather, and the notoriously horror-based villain Solomon Grundy. A reanimated corpse may be just a little tough for the LEGO universe to swallow. The Long Halloween also includes Harvey Dent’s graphic transformation into Two-Face with a courtroom acid bath, followed by the murder of Falcone, something that couldn’t be further away from Billy Dee Williams’s playful purple guy from McKay’s LEGO film. A LEGO explanation of Two-Face would more likely involve an accident with a hairdryer than full-on facial disfigurement at the hands on the mob.
Loeb continued his work in the equally dark Batman: Dark Victory and Catwoman: When in Rome -- they wouldn’t be included either!
13 Bruce's Venom Addiction
LEGO Batman 2 - Bruce Wayne on Drugs. Somehow the idea of substance abuse may not transfer so well into the world of “Everything is Awesome.” Batman may be known for his grim take on life, but is a spiral into drug dependency really something LEGO wants to be associated with? Writer Denny O’Neil took the laughable premise of Bruce Wayne hooked on drugs and turned it into the highly-praised Legends series. After failing to save the life of a young girl, Batman starts taking a performance-enhancing drug called Venom.
While Batman: Venom also set the stage for the arrival of Bane, it is known as a dark dip into the psyche of Bruce, and highlighting the dangers of steroids and other more serious drugs. The cover of Issue 3 included a bedraggled Bruce, looking more like Jackman in Logan and spilling pills onto the floor, then went into an issue where Batman was rustling in bushes looking for little baggies of pills - really child-friendly. Venom also represented Bruce’s fragile state of mind, and although LEGO Batman tackled his commitment issues, it isn’t exactly going to go much darker than that.
12 Vampire Batman
If McKay is running low on ideas, why don’t we have Vampire Batman? LEGO Batman may have included Dracula from the Phantom Zone, but even he looked like he preferred ketchup to actual blood. Everything about a universe populated by vampiric superheroes just screams "no", so unless anyone was planning on doing an Underworld crossover, Batman from Earth-43 should probably stay where he is.
First appearing in the Red Rain series and ending with Convergence, it represented a world where Bruce slowly turned into a bloodthirsty killer and the epitome of "vampire bat." It started as Bruce investigated a series of grisly murders while empowered with the skills of a vampire and continued into other titles like Bloodstorm and Crimson Mist.
Batman would eventually embrace his vampiric powers, Selina Kyle became a werecat, and the likes of Jim Gordon and Alfred were vampire hunters. The plot strayed into the horror territory with scenes of Bruce being staked through the heart or killing/decapitating the likes of Penguin, Riddler, and Poison Ivy.
We may have seen LEGO Batman kick Dracula back to the Phantom Zone, but Red Rain had a full-blown showdown between the pair-- and Dracula got impaled on a tree. Maybe for Universal’s upcoming monster universe, but not for LEGO, thanks.
11 "Arkham Asylum: Living Hell"
The Arkham of LEGO Batman seemed pretty normal really - not somewhere you would want to spend much time, but with comfy beds and lots of company, it couldn’t have been further away from the Arkham we have come to expect from the comics. Arkham Asylum: Living Hell certainly lived up to its name, with insanity pleas, crazed lunatics, and the introduction of frost-bitten villain Great White Shark. If the likes of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 and House on Haunted Hill have taught us, adventures into mental asylums are not particularly aimed at LEGO’s audience - especially when it involves the demonic sacrifice and ritualistic possession of Living Hell.
After pleading insanity to avoid a spell in Blackgate prison, Warren White, aka Great White Shark, soon comes to realize that Blackgate is Disneyland compared to Arkham. Any sympathy for villains like Two-Face or Killer Croc is soon washed away, as White is out of his depth in a twisted world of slaughter and real insanity. The other reason that Living Hell would never make it into a LEGO Batman film is the fact that it is largely Batman-free.
While it sounds perfect for an R-rated feature film, LEGO Batman needs Michael Cera reminding us that everything is okay, not plunging into the depths of Arkham.
10 "A Death In The Family"
Some may have found Michael Cera’s Dick Grayson slightly on the annoying side, but that would be nothing compared to the reception that Jason Todd received in the comics. In one of the biggest comic book moments ever, 1988-1989’s A Death in the Family had readers vote for whether the second Robin should be killed off or spared. It was no surprise that Todd was up for the chop, but don’t count on LEGO following the same route.
If having Todd clubbed over the head with a crowbar wasn’t bad enough, he was then “blown up” by the Joker's finale bomb - it is a storyline summed up by the iconic image of Batman carrying Todd’s corpse on the front cover. It wouldn't work for several reasons. For starters, LEGO Batman firmly set Cera’s Grayson as Robin, although there was at least a nod to Todd.
In the comics, the character had a well-known return under the alias of Red Hood in Under the Hood, and ironically, LEGO Batman did see the inclusion of the Red Hood figurine. LEGO Batman suggests that Todd could be out there somewhere, but thankfully Red Hood didn’t take his helmet off to confirm it.
9 "Death Of The Family"
A Death in the Family may have been the seminal Robin death, but the New 52 tried to top that in the violence stakes with 2012's Death of the Family. The story gets off to a bloody start with the return of Joker after nearly a year away from DC Comics. The faceless Mr. J recovers his visage from the GCPD and massacres 19 officers in the process. Then we get the 23-issue run with Joker’s stapled face attracting flies and slowly decomposing. Galifianakis definitely has his face in one place following the events of LEGO Batman, and although shown as unhinged, he is far from A Death in the Family levels.
It is break-neck adventure across several Batman titles, but the story will be remembered for scenes like Joker strapping Batman to an electric chair, dousing his allies with gasoline, and brainwashing Alfred after attacking him with a hammer. Death of the Family is possibly one of the Joker’s scariest portrayals to date. It reaches a shocking conclusion in Batman #17 and a Texas Chainsaw Massacre-esque dinner party and the implied scene that Joker too had stripped the faces off Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake, Jason Todd, Damian Wayne, and Dick Grayson.
Admittedly, Death of the Family does follow the themes of Joker and Batman’s love like in LEGO Batman, but that is where the similarities, or likelihood of McKay adapting the story, end.
8 "The Black Mirror"
With Scott Snyder’s usual darkness, Batman: The Black Mirror marks the return of a sociopathic Jim Gordon Jr., who had been missing from continuity since Year One. Jim Jr. may have been played by Joffrey Baratheon in Nolan’s The Dark Knight, but McKay steered clear of introducing a third Gordon in LEGO Batman - probably with good reason.
The Black Mirror includes nods to Gotham’s violent past, including the crowbar that was used to beat Jason Todd, the uncomfortable new inclusion of the child-killing Peter Pan case, and a woman being eaten alive by a killer whale. It is hard to see Laura Kightlinger’s version of Orca from LEGO Batman following that plot twist.
Joker barely gets a look-in, while Jim Gordon Jr. takes on the truly unhinged mantle --particularly in the scene where his childhood bully is kept and mutilated in the basement. With the struggle of Commissioner Gordon coming to terms with his son, Jim Jr. tainting baby food, then trying to murder his sister, The Black Mirror took the already psychologically traumatized Gordon family on their darkest caper yet.
The story also features a more mature and darker Dick Grayson, nowhere near Cera’s chirpy LEGO Batman performance. An older audience is clearly the focus of The Black Mirror, without a bar of “Everything is Awesome” being able to be heard.
7 "Let's Put A Smile On That Face"
Zach Galifianakis certainly put his own spin on the classic Joker history but naturally, it was decidedly more LEGO than Joker's previous incarnations. With Jared Leto’s Joker reduced to a Suicide Squad cameo, everyone was undoubtedly comparing Galifianakis's performance to Heath Ledger's Dark Knight part. With the Joker undoubtedly returning if there is a second LEGO Batman, Galifianakis should probably avoid emulating Heath’s darker moments too much. Especially looking at the whole changing story of how Joker got his scar; none of Ledger’s stories were particularly child-friendly, and a disappearing pencil trick isn't very LEGO Batman.
Taking an influence from all of Joker’s darkest moments since his creation in 1940, Ledger’s take on Mr. J may not have been as violent as Leto, but it was the most psychologically damaged. Moving away from Cesar Romero’s campy ‘60s version, and more realistic that Nicholson’s Joker, Ledger seemed to take influence from Mark Hamill’s animated version-- another part too dark for LEGO Batman. Galifianakis definitely shouldn't be asking “why so serious?” - LEGO Batman Joker is more shark repellant and love notes to Batman.
A man with bloodied bandages wrapped around his face - what a way to sell LEGO toys to kids! Anything to do with Thomas Elliot/Hush would involve multiple murders, some serious ass-kicking, and more Wayne backstory than you could cram into a feature film. The introduction of new villain Hush set 2002’s storyline on a grim path with the tale of Thomas Elliott, a man whose life was ruined by Bruce Wayne. Everything starts with Bruce fracturing his skull after a run-in with Killer Croc and gets more gruesome from there on out.
LEGO Batman hasn't even met Jason Todd yet, but for Hush, they'd need him, have to kill him, then revive him. Hush is also shockingly violent; Bruce nearly beats Joker to death and pummels Catwoman unconscious - if beating women is your bag, roll on up. The conclusion also uses one of those ridiculous DC twists where Clayface is mimicking the victim’s apparent demise, only for the real person to turn up at the criminal mastermind. Shock, horror, it is eventually revealed as Elliot, while the continuing saga Heart of Hush even involves Elliot undergoing surgery to mimic Bruce. We could imagine a LEGO Batman movie introducing Bruce’s evil LEGO twin, but Elliot’s botched surgery? Not so much.
While Hush would’ve been perfect for the Nolanverse, its neo-noir tones don’t quite fit with the color-pop of LEGO Batman. Sorry, back to Arkham for you, Mr. Elliot!
5 "Arkham Asylum: A Serious House On Serious Earth"
The LEGO Batman Movie steered clear of inmates actually escaping Arkham, seemingly glossing over hostage situations and presumed casualties as if everything was business as usual. One storyline that didn’t shy away from the horrors of a mass outbreak in Arkham was Grant Morrison’s A Serious House on Serious Earth. Where some Batman stories amp up the violence, A Serious House is all the more unsettling due to its paranormal elements.
With Batman voluntarily going into Arkham, it also battles Bruce’s inner turmoil that maybe Joker is right and Batman himself is actually mad too. However, where the real gothic horror kicks in is with the troubling past of the asylum’s architect Amadeus Arkham.
Where Living Hell was a dark look into what made Arkham tick, A Serious House is a gory examination of the past, as we slowly find out that Amadeus was just as mad as his patients. With secret passages and murder shoots, it feels like an episode of American Horror Story, while on the way you meet doors that bleed and the vengeful ghost of Arkham himself - and not those cute glow-in-the-dark LEGO ghosts either. It all descends into stunningly, but not very kid-friendly imagery, like morphing bat-demons and clownfish transforming into Joker. Those things have no place alongside Arnett and Cera.
4 "Dark Knight, Dark City"
Even molding Batman out of plastic, the story is never just about the Caped Crusader, or even the Dynamic Duo. It is the villains of Batman that make up the real nitty-gritty, and boy, are there some villains out there. Heralded as the ultimate Riddler story, Dark Knight, Dark City would put a big question mark over its involvement in LEGO Batman 2, mainly due to its blood-soaked pages. It took one of Batman’s least-violent foes and went and turned him into a full-blown devil worshipper just for the horror of it.
The story hops back to 1785, where a group of the occult summons the bat daemon Barbatos, just before their ritual goes wrong. After an innocent girl is trapped in the remains of the temple, the city’s forefathers then conveniently build Gotham City on top of it. That is only the beginning of the wacky, which includes slitting a baby’s throat, robots covered in human flesh, and the stabbing of dogs (there is also the token goat too).
There are a lot of demonic themes and the random involvement of Thomas Jefferson as a sadist, not to mention the evil spirit of a demon living in the bowels of the city. Dark Knight, Dark City is too out there for any big-screen adaptation, let alone among the LEGOverse.
3 "All Star Batman & Robin"
If it were an episode of Friends, All Star Batman & Robin would be known as “The One With the Word R----d.” It is unsurprising that 2005's violent term for Bats and his bird came under the reign of Frank Miller. Already known for his dark material, Miller went and sucker punched Robin. Through the use of psychological torture, All Star's Batman is vile to Grayson, mocking the death of his parents and suggesting that if he is hungry, he should eat the rats from the Batcave.
Some have suggested that Bruce’s treatment of Dick was similar to Vee's behavior toward Evey Hammond from V for Vendetta, but then again, that is another comic book you are unlikely to see transformed into LEGO anytime soon. Miller mainly came under fire for writing Batman as a cruel and childish figure, who had a penchant for launching Molotov cocktails at his bad guys.
The aforementioned use of the word “r----d” lead to the recall of issues after Bruce tells Dick that he is the “Goddamn Batman.” However, Grayson aside, Miller made Batman do the unthinkable... he shouted at Alfred. Although set in the same universe as Miller’s gritty The Dark Knight Returns, All Star was accused of trying to create its own Sin Cityesque Batman story and its darkness didn’t pay off.
2 "No Man's Land"
While decimating Gotham with a 7.6 earthquake in Cataclysm may look like curtains for the city, No Man’s Land continued the tale of those left behind. Sprawling, deadly, and serving as one giant turf war, the level of violence in No Man’s Land counts it out of its own LEGO set. Also, given the inclusion of a wheelchair-bound Barbara Gordon, No Man's Land doesn't even fit with LEGO Batman's current narrative (more on that in a minute). Largely narrated by Babs in her Oracle form, it just wouldn't work.
The writing was on the wall for a newly married Jim Gordon, who undertook a suicidal mission to keep order after Cataclysm, while the inclusion of his wife Sarah Essen should have set alarm bells ringing for the reader. You watch as the storyline progresses, with the likes of Mr. Freeze, Two-Face, and Penguin fighting over the price of an apple.
Sure, LEGO Batman certainly has the catalog of villains to pull off a No Man’s Land storyline, but is Joker promising to mass-murder a group of children, and then shooting Sarah Essen dead what LEGO Batman audiences want to see?
1 "The Killing Joke"
Then there was Oracle. Like it or love it, The LEGO Batman Movie decided to ignore the most influential Barbara Gordon moment from her entire run in DC. Any fan who calls himself a Batfan has heard of Alan Moore and 1988’s The Killing Joke. The story crippled the Gordon family both mentally and physically and had the Joker at his most dangerous. With repercussions for the entire Batman universe, for the next 23 years it had Barbara confined to a wheelchair and using the alias of Oracle.
2011’s The New 52 may have retconned Oracle in favor of the classic Batgirl uniform for Barbara, but some will never forget. It wasn’t just Joker’s mutilation of Barbara that makes The Killing Joke impossible to bring to LEGO Batman. With scenes of nudity, implied incest, and Jim Gordon fully losing his mind, the story was hard enough for most adults to stomach.
Where some see The LEGO Batman Movie the most progressive Dark Knight film to date, you can’t help but feel they missed a trick by not having a paraplegic Barbara Gordon flying the flag for disabled rights. We have already seen one cartoon version of The Killing Joke, but perhaps a LEGO Batman sequel should see Babs in her Oracle role. However, you can’t put Barbara in the wheelchair without telling The Killing Joke!
Are there any Batman stories that you could actually see being adapted for The Lego Batman Movie's sequel? Share them in the comments!