Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice isn't just the beginning of the DC Extended Universe, it's also the start of an entirely new live-action Batman franchise starring Ben Affleck. By now Bruce Wayne's alter-ego is modern cinema's most frequently filmmed superhero, with eight big-budget live-action films stretched across (now) three series having been produced since 1989 and no end in sight. But while fans have by now sampled myriad different takes on the character, most filmmakers have shyed away from one major component of the Batman mythos: Robin.
But the makers of the upcoming The LEGO Batman Movie have no such fears: Along with the first images from the film, director Chris McKay has revealed that his film is about why The Dark Knight needs his sidekicks.
Will Arnett's self-consciously grumpy, egomaniacal take on Batman wasn't just the breakout hit character of The LEGO Movie, he became an immediate favorite among Batman fans thanks in large part to the decision of the filmmakers to present him as a brutal, spot-on parody of the overly grim, brooding version of the character that's presisted so long in popular media. With the plastic Caped Crusader's self-praising hard-rock anthem ("DARKNESS!!! NO PARENTS!!!") becoming one of pop culture's go-to punchlines for deflating self-serious comic book adaptations, it makes sense for LEGO Batman's feature outing to continue deeper into that satirical take; presenting the character as a brooding bore too clueless to acknowledge how lonely he is -- until his world is "up-ended" by the arrival of Robin and Batgirl. Explained McKay:
“Batman is an island onto himself, the only thing he doesn’t have is relationships. We're making 'About a Boy' as directed by (action director) Michael Mann.”
The idea of Batman having to grapple with integrating a pair of enthusiastic young sidekicks into his solitary existence makes a lot of sense from a story perspective (particularly as a lesson about friendship for the presumably young target audience); but it's also likely a canny solution for recreating the kind of chemistry Arnett had bouncing his character off of Chris Pratt's Emmett and Elizabeth Banks' WyldStyle, while keeping The LEGO Batman Movie from being merely a sequel to The LEGO Movie. Michael Cera is voicing Robin (Dick Grayson version) and Rosario Dawson is Batgirl, while Ralph Fiennes voices Alfred and Zach Galifianakis has been cast as LEGO Joker. Further cameos from the rest of the LEGO DC Universe are to be expected as well, according to McKay:
“We’re nothing but exhaustive about the cameos and other characters that try to enter Batman’s life.”
Appearing in the original 1930s Batman comics only one year after they first began, Robin has been part of the Batman mythos longer than almost any other supporting character. But his association with the 1960s TV version of the character (and the lighter tone of the pre-1990s DC Universe in general) have led many subsequent interpretations to downplay or remove the character entirely -- a trend that has been embraced by some fans but continues to the chagrin of others, who'd like to see The Dynamic Duo restored to their traditional stature. Those fans will likely be happy to hear that The LEGO Batman Movie, at least, shares their opinion about Batman's surrogate family -- though it likely won't stop calls for a Robin to appear in the live-action DC Universe movies.
The most recent live-action interpretation (not counting a much-maligned last-minute namedrop at the tail end of The Dark Knight Rises) was Chris O'Donnell as a sarcastic adult "boy wonder" in Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, which didn't go over well with fans or audiences in general. Meanwhile, in Dawn of Justice it's implied that at least one Robin was murdered years before the film begins. Whether or not the still-emerging DC Extended Universe will find cause to bring a (living) Robin of its own to the screen remains to be seen; though there was early talk of Dick Grayson's adult alter-ego Nightwing being part of the story at various points.
On that note - be sure and check back on Screen Rant this Wednesday for the release of the first LEGO Batman trailer!
The LEGO Batman Movie 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 Billion Brick Race on May 24th, 2019.
Source: USA Today