The LEGO Batman Movie promises a marriage of the exciting, colorful world that The LEGO Movie provided, and the deep, rich setting and characters of the Batman universe. The newest trailer for the highly anticipated LEGO sequel gave fresh glimpses of all the major players and how the movie will put a family-friendly spin on Batman/Bruce Wayne’s complex backstory.
The trailer also promised fresh twists on beloved Batman regulars like Robin, Commissioner Gordon, and The Joker. It’s clear from the way director Chris McKay describes the main players that they will not be dealt with lightly or simply. McKay recently broke down the trailer, promising an uncommonly deep version of the Batman characters -- even for a family-friendly animated movie.
Speaking to Empire Magazine, McKay talked in-depth about the well-known main characters of The LEGO Batman Movie and how this production boasts a unique take on the characters that goes beyond the distinctive animation. He also teased the presence of Easter eggs “throughout the movie” for both fans of Batman and LEGO, describing himself as “a big fan of DVD/Blu-ray freeze-framing of things.”
On Batman himself, voiced by Will Arnett, McKay made a bold statement, considering how many Batman products have come before this movie:
“This is maybe the definitive comic version. We set out to make a movie that’s an About A Boy, a Jerry Maguire-type movie about a guy whose ego and self-involvement have kept him away from people. He also has a deep hurt. There’s a reason why people in these movies are cold and remote egomaniacs – there’s a wound somewhere inside. So we get to play with another point of view on another kind of Batman movie.”
On The Joker, voiced by Zach Galifinakis, McKay described a familiarly scarred, vulnerable villain, but in a different way than you’d imagine:
"Zach Galifianakis is such a nice guy and brings such a sensitivity to Joker. He plays Joker as this very fragile, very vulnerable wounded bird, who Batman no longer sees as an equal in Gotham City. Batman has lots of enemies, he likes to fight around, so the Joker is hurt that he doesn’t have a label on this relationship."
Perhaps the biggest departure from the Batman canon is Rosario Dawson as the voice of Commissioner Barbara Gordon. McKay described her role in the movie as satirical, a voice of reason in an otherwise outrageous setting:
"She looks at Gotham City and says: 'Wait a minute, for 78 years Gotham City has not improved? It’s been the most crime-ridden city in history, and even with this night-stalking vigilante it’s not once improved?' Rosario brings a seriousness and a sarcastic and critical point of view. The movie is really a critique of Batman and she’s really the focus of that."
McKay described Michael Cera’s take on Robin as an innocent, joyous version of the character:
"His voice is so sincere and sweet and innocent, he brings so much joy to this indefatigable character of Robin. Kids like to dress up: there are kids who love wearing capes and things like that, and Robin is a free-spirited guy. He’s a gymnast, he loves to dance and run around. He’s so happy, you can’t not love someone who exhibits joy as much as him.”
The LEGO Movie is a tough act to follow for The LEGO Batman Movie. But if the trailers are any indication, the spinoff will deliver the same kind of thrills and laughs that made the original LEGO Movie a hit for all ages. The presence of Commissioner Gordon as more of a realistic “outsider” could put a unique twist on Gotham City that hasn’t been seen.
Arnett and Cera have built-in chemistry from their days on Arrested Development, which can only mean good things for their voice performances as Batman and Robin. McKay certainly has strong source material to work from and it appears that these versions of such iconic characters will find a way to give a fresh take on them in a way that is compelling and relatable.
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