The runaway success of The LEGO Movie ($468 million worldwide) took quite a few people by surprise earlier this year, but Warner Bros. was not among them. Confident they had a hit on their hands, the studio was already developing a sequel, with spinoffs like Ninjago (2016) and LEGO Batman (2017) hitting theaters before The LEGO Movie 2 appears in 2018.
Meanwhile, Warner Bros. beat Marvel to the punch (albeit with less showmanship) with the reveal of the release slate for their interconnected DC Cinematic Universe, which includes solo films for Wonder Woman (in 2017) and Cyborg (in 2020). Marvel quickly confirmed their own plans for a female-led superhero movie (Captain Marvel) and one with a minority lead (Black Panther), but Warners just barely got there first.
The dismaying reality about just how under-represented women and minorities are in mainstream Hollywood movies inevitably leads to a debate on the subject which will never end, but it seems that The LEGO Movie writer-directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller have been listening.
"I don't want to give spoilers but there will be more female characters and more female stuff."
The first LEGO Movie did have a strong female supporting character in Wyldstyle, the freedom fighter voiced by Elizabeth Banks, as well as the emotional Princess Unikitty (Alison Brie), but the voice talent was mostly made up of boys: Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Morgan Freeman, and Will Arnett. And while Cobie Smulders provided a winning cameo as the voice of Wonder Woman, she was hardly in the film at all.
With an ever-growing (and now all-important) global market for American films, the relentless pursuit of the white male aged 18-34 demographic seems like a short-sighted goal, a point of view that Phil Lord echoed by saying:
"It's important to us that the movie plays broadly and that we inspire young women as much as we inspire young men."
Lord also cited Disney's massively successful Frozen as indicative of what the film-going public actually wants to see and added:
"You can feel that the whole movie culture is now starting to wake up to the fact that half the audience are women. 'Frozen' is reflective of that - and I think we are all going to find a great flourishing of women film makers and subject matter in the future."
Lord and Miller couldn't offer any details about just what kind of characters will be joining the roster, but one big appeal of The LEGO Movie was just how wide-open the possibilities are for this universe. LEGO Batman will precede the sequel - could a LEGO Catwoman be introduced? Will LEGO Wonder Woman return for a substantially-expanded part? Anything is possible.
With more blockbusters starring women on the horizon, Miller also shared this observation:
"There's been a real shortage of [female protagonists] in recent years and I think that the near future will be very different."
As for the current state of the script, the writers claim to only have a plot outline at this point, with Lord saying, "You would think there would be be more pieces in place but all we've written is 'Fade in...'" Miller followed this up by saying:
"I'm certain [that] many broad elements of it will change by the time the movie comes out because that's the way the way that it works. It's like LEGO itself - you can take it apart and put it back together in a different shape."
While the shape of the LEGO Movie universe may change depending on the impact and reception of Ninjago and LEGO Batman, the new franchise is likely to retain its popularity and - hopefully - continue its singular brand of sly, quick-witted humor.
Stay tuned for more on The LEGO Movie 2 as details emerge.
The LEGO Movie 2 is expected to premiere on May 25th, 2018.