This article was originally published at ComicBook.Com on January 27, 2017.
You can debate what the best superhero movie ever is for days. It’s an argument that has only grown as the genre has blown up over the past decade too. We have an entire system dedicated to cataloging scores and statistics here at ComicBook.Com, but still couldn’t give you a definitive answer. However, there’s no questioning which superhero has the best track record at the movies overall. It’s Batman.
Batman has been tearing up the silver screen ever since 1966, even earlier if you want to count the black and white serials, but those are a bit… uncomfortable, to say the very least. Batman: The Movie is a hallmark of American camp and it has been followed by acclaimed revivals (Batman), animated features (Mask of the Phantasm), and modern classics (The Dark Knight Trilogy). It’s a history of movies that spans plenty of decades, genres, and actors. All of that makes it hard to believe any new installment could be the best yet, much less one composed entirely of Legos.
But that’s exactly our thinking. Based on the press, trailers, and original The Lego Movie, there’s a very real possibility that The Lego Batman Movie could be the best Batman movie yet. Click ahead to find out why.
The Biggest Batman Cast Ever
Live-action Batman movies seem to do well with one or two villains, but crumble under the weight of three (see: Batman & Robin). That’s because the addition of new cast members combined with costuming and script changes make it difficult to pack so much into just a couple of hours. The beauty of animation is that you can create a character for a single joke that lasts only seconds. Villains and heroes can pop up for a climactic action sequence without the need for tens of millions of dollars being spent. All of this means The Lego Batman Movie is going to have the most Batman characters ever.
Watching Joker’s massive crew of baddies from Arkham and Blackgate in the trailers is truly something to behold. In addition to classics like The Riddler and Bane, there are also cult favorites like Kite-Man and The Eraser. Batman is joining forces with most of his favorite allies as well, with at least one Superman cameo promised. This is a Batman movie that can contain all of our favorite characters and actually handle it too.
Unlimited Potential for Action and Stunts
Along those same lines, the animated nature of The Lego Batman Movie opens the door for set pieces and moments only bound by the limits of imagination. Bat-vehicles can transform into one another or explode again and again. Action sequences can take place over an entire city and involve a perfectly choreographed set of super-extras. Literally nothing is impossible.
There’s a clear difference between a live-action stunt and an animated one, but that doesn’t make the latter inherently less exciting. When you’re already operating in the superhero genre, the suspension of disbelief is already a given. If the movie can invest its audiences in the characters and what is happening, there’s no reason an animated chase can’t be just as thrilling as the one in The Dark Knight. Except now filmmakers can place the camera anywhere and build the Batmobile however they want.
Will Arnett Could Be The Best Batman Ever
Who expected to walk out of The Lego Movie, a film with a rainbow-fueled cat voiced by Alison Brie, being most surprised by Batman? He ought to be a known quantity, but Will Arnett’s voice performance in that movie took audiences by storm. Even in a supporting role he was able to offer a Batman with layers in addition to being a superficially hilarious component of the team.
The Lego Batman Movie is Arnett’s chance to show us all just how much he can do with a character that has been taken on by some of Hollywood’s best over the years. There’s no doubt that he can nail the comedic beats and the character’s voice, but what about the rest? Elements of pathos and a bigger-than-life existence are inherent to Batman. If Arnett can pull all of these pieces together within the tone of a Lego movie, he’ll have accomplished something truly great. By being fun and portraying a Batman that is true to the character’s expansive essence, he could be the best one yet.
Bringing the Fun Back to Batman
The Christopher Nolan films are great, but they do miss one integral element of Batman: fun. Look at almost any iteration of the comics and there’s bound to be an element of fun, whether it’s the zaniness of the Silver Age or the grim joy of Frank Miller’s interpretation. Batman is a superhero and no matter what the 90s might have indicated, superheroes shouldn’t be 100% “grim and gritty”.
Something like Batman: The Movie might go too far for some in making fun the entire point of the movie, but there’s no denying the charm of that film. It embraces the silliness of Batman and does so without being ironic. That’s a key part of what made Batman work in The Lego Movie and it appears to be the heart of The Lego Batman Movie. By allowing both Batman and audiences to have fun with the character, this movie is already set to leapfrog the most critically acclaimed Bat-films yet.
It Understands What Batman is Really About
Fun may be what’s returning, but it’s only one element that defines the cultural juggernaut of Batman. He’s a hero that means so many things to so many people, so large it seems impossible to pick out just what makes him great. But that’s not entirely true because Batman is one of the greatest superheroes of all time and it’s clear why that is.
Batman is a character whose story starts in tragedy, but is built on recovery. In the wake of terrible events, he chose to do good, form a family, and take care of others. His is a story of optimism that is constantly under threat of crumbling under the weight of reality. It isn’t defined by realism, camp, or anything in between though. Batman’s story is a narrative that ought to be able to inspire all of us to keep going no matter what life throws our way, with laughter, tears, or both.
It looks like The Lego Batman Movie understands this and wants to approach the tragedy of Batman’s origin by highlighting the joy and strength that follows. It’s that approach which will allow it to please audiences young and old, and might make it the best Batman movie ever.