THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE
About The Production
BACK IN BLACK...and YELLOW
Bringing together the energy, imagination and memorable characters from both the
LEGO world DC universe, "The LEGO Batman Movie" welcomes audiences of all ages
into a world of DC Super Heroes and Super-Villains uniquely realized for the big
screen. With plenty of action, fun, and laughs, plus Batman's amazing arsenal of
gadgets and vehicles and the Batcave as it's never been built before-brick by
LEGO brick-this brand-new adventure also asks the question, can Batman just get
over himself and be happy?
The film's star is LEGO Batman, the coolest, handsomest, buff-est, and most
awesome leading man of all time....even if he does say so himself.
And he does. Frequently.
"The 'LEGO Movie' version of Batman was such a favorite, breakout character, and
I'm sure he would agree that he deserves to be the focus of his own movie and
not some third banana. He feels he's definitely a first-banana kind of guy,"
says Christopher Miller, who, along with Phil Lord, wrote and directed "The LEGO
Movie" in 2014. Keeping the creative collaboration both fresh and familiar, the
duo returns as producers on "The LEGO Batman Movie," directed by Chris McKay,
their filmmaking partner who served as animation director and editor on the
Joining Batman this time is the super-positive and freakishly agile young Dick
Grayson, on his way to becoming Robin; Batman's loyal and deceptively reserved
butler, Alfred; Gotham City's new police commissioner Barbara Gordon, aka
Batgirl, who wields major girl power; and The Joker, who desperately wants the
recognition he deserves-in a story that not only showcases Batman's sick skills
and enviable abs but also takes a searching look into his personality.
Specifically, this lone wolf's need to work alone, to brood alone on his dark
past and generally distance himself from everyone to a degree that is starting
to make him seem, well, a little bit dysfunctional.
"Batman is beloved the world over and for good reason, yet no one could really
behave the way he does and get away with it, which is what we're exploring in
the movie," says lifelong fan Chris McKay, who nevertheless feels that even at
the character's most extreme, "he's still very sympathetic."
"What was so special about Batman in the first movie is that he was selfish and
egotistical, but still loveable in his own way," is the assessment of returning
producer Dan Lin. "He had no self-awareness and it was a new twist on the
character, someone who often said the most outrageous things. It's a subversion
of the Super Hero genre, but with a joyous heart and told in a family-friendly
Adds McKay, "When we were figuring out what kind of movie this would be, we knew
that he could be funny and charming, we knew there were plenty of opportunities
for jokes, but we wanted it to be more than all gags and sketch comedy. It had
to be an absurd, action movie. But it also had to be moving, with an emotional
core to these characters and a reason for people to get involved. We wanted to
have it all: to respect them as individuals with all their complexities and
defining traits while at the same time looking at those traits in the funniest
The best example of this is Batman's perpetual state of somber introspection,
never mind the fact that, as Lord points out, "He's got a great life. He's a
billionaire, he's handsome, he's strong, he has great cars and gadgets, and he
gets to punch people in the face with no repercussions! I mean, the guy should
be grinning from ear to ear all the time. So we thought the tension between how
he feels and how he should feel was a great premise and something we wanted to
poke fun at."
The writers on "The LEGO Batman Movie" have roots in a range of comedic and/or
animated projects. Seth Grahame-Smith's novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
was made into a successful feature; writing partners Chris McKenna and Erik
Sommers have been recognized for their work on "Community" and "American Dad";
Jared Stern counts "Toy Story 3" and "Wreck-It Ralph" among his feature
animation credits; and John Whittington is a staff writer on the upcoming series
"Green Eggs and Ham," based on the classic Dr. Seuss children's book.
Reprising his role as the gravelly voiced DC Super Hero with issues is Will
Arnett, who concurs, "It's fun to take an iconic figure like Batman and play
with the rules that have always been in place for him, to keep it consistent in
terms of his being good at what he does and having that bravado and machismo,
but play up his flaws and make him a little goofier without entirely losing his
cool. That's the kind of license we took originally, and then expanded on that
to really get down to what makes Batman tick."
Speaking of ticking... The story opens with a spectacular action sequence as The
Joker, voiced by Zach Galifianakis, gleefully leads the vast Rogues Gallery of
baddies in a series of heists culminating in a full-scale attack on Gotham City,
with a time bomb that Batman must quickly locate and defuse. But it's not just
mayhem The Joker craves now. After decades of unresolved conflict, point and
counterpoint, the Clown Prince of Crime justifiably feels that he and the Caped
Crusader have forged a special hero/villain bond that needs to be formally
Naturally, Batman refuses, even if the fate of the city rests on his uttering
those three magic words The Joker wants to hear: that he is, in fact, Batman's
The filmmakers know, however, that putting Batman on the hot seat over his
relationship with The Joker isn't enough by itself to prompt real
soul-searching. So the story also introduces Dick Grayson, who comes to live
under Batman's guardianship through a series of events The Dark Knight can't
quite figure out. Voiced by Michael Cera, this talkative and enthusiastic
youngster, destined to become Robin, brings a ray of sunshine into Batman's life
but, along with it, a level of personal accountability he's not ready to assume.
Simultaneously, Batman is smitten by Gotham City's fearless and capable new
police commissioner Barbara Gordon, played by Rosario Dawson, as a law
enforcement pro with her own ideas about crime-fighting, and who could be a
powerful ally if Batman would only accept her help. And, as if that's not
enough, Batman's long-standing association with his butler and father figure
Alfred comes to a crisis as Alfred, played by Ralph Fiennes, embarks on a
tough-love campaign to force Batman out of the shadows and toward a healthier,
It's a lot of upheaval for a guy who just wants to save the city on a regular
basis, soak in some public adulation and then hole up at home with his old
photos and chick flicks. Or alternately, vent his deep angst writing heavy-metal
While these storylines serve up a lot of laughs they also encourage Batman to
recognize the value of teamwork versus going it alone, which is one of the
film's central themes. Similarly, Batman's coming to terms with the significant
people in his life touches upon another of the film's themes, which is the
rewards of family, however a person comes to define that.
"The LEGO Batman Movie" again employs the digital animation technique that made
"The LEGO Movie" look and feel so tactile and engaging. Each scene and asset was
built brick by brick, through a meticulous process of rendering and surfacing
thousands of individual pieces and then assembling these as sets and props in
the computer-much as people around the world do so to tell their own stories
with LEGO play materials. Though entirely CG, it suggests the same stop-motion
quality that gave its predecessor its distinctive handmade and hand-held look.
However, McKay notes, while the two films share a continuity of style, there are
subtleties that set them apart: "The look of this movie is different than 'The
LEGO Movie.' It's still within the same world but is more cinematic and photo
real. The scale is larger, with wider camera lenses, and the characters are more
detailed. Batman, for example, has a molded utility belt that he didn't have in
the first film. We also incorporated some natural effects, like smoke and
Because of the commitment to appropriately depict Batman's classic environs,
unlike the sunny brights of the first film, McKay sought to balance the thematic
darkness of such places as Gotham City, Wayne Manor and the Batcave with
Overall, he says, "We strove to make sure everything was up to the quality and
standards set by 'The LEGO Movie.'"
The creative team again honored the LEGO brand's imprint by finding ways to work
with its physical properties authentically rather than "cheating" movement.
Thus, the Minifigures only move, turn and bend the way their real-life
counterparts can. Referencing the director's extensive experience with
stop-motion animation, Miller says, "Chris is a genius at figuring out the
tricks and challenges, how characters can move and how you can make them do
things like clap or hug or scratch their foreheads, when their arms only go so
"What's compelling about the look of these LEGO movies is that it's your toys
come to life," says Lin. "And not only your toys but your imagination. If you
could have all these LEGO bricks and build these amazing sets and vehicles, this
is what it could look like."
Production ran concurrently in the U.S. and at the Sydney, Australia
headquarters of award-winning digital design, animation and effects company
Animal Logic, which provided the animation for "The LEGO Movie"- reuniting many
of the artists who worked on that film, again with input from the LEGO design
team based in Billund, Denmark. For two and a half years, approximately 400
dedicated people collaborated to turn this beloved character onto his ear in a
way that will delight adults as well as children.
"The LEGO Batman Movie" unapologetically deviates from the DC canon to a
ridiculous degree...but, the filmmakers attest, with purpose as well as total love
and respect. "We all know, for example, that this is an inaccurate back-story
for Barbara Gordon," Lord acknowledges. "It literally has nothing to do with the
canon whatsoever, but everyone knows this is a tongue-in-cheek version and it's
all in good fun. It gave us an opportunity to present Batgirl as a strong female
role model with a contemporary point of view."
"It doesn't count as real canon because these are little plastic people," adds
Miller, with a laugh. "And everything is done with affection for these
characters. Chris McKay was a big factor in why the first LEGO movie was so
successful; his tone and his point of view are all over it. He's a real genius.
He's also a crazy, super-fan of Batman and DC comics and their history, so the
guy's credentials are legit. He even has a tattoo of Catwoman on his forearm."
It's true. He does, and will readily roll up his shirtsleeve to prove it.
"These are our Greek gods and our archetypes," McKay explains. "So it's
irresistible sometimes to make fun of them, but also to find out what's true and
real about them and what they represent, and what they mean to us. There are
jokes here for people who want to delve deep and stuff that's just going to be
silly and slapstick. The live-action films have a very different take on Batman,
and I think what we're doing doesn't take anything away from that. We're still
playing in the world they created."
Despite the film's short-legged, claw-handed protagonists measuring
one-and-a-half inches high, with printed facial features, "The LEGO Batman
Movie" was conceived, designed, lit, shot and scored like an epic action film.
Therein, the filmmakers feel, lies its appeal as well as the crux of its humor
and heart. Says McKay, "There's something inherently funny about these little
Minifigures taking things so seriously and having the action choreography unfold
like some high-powered epic, with people rushing around trying to stop someone
from detonating a bomb and all this crazy stuff.
"It's fun to stage massive action on this level," he adds, "because it's all
rendered in LEGO bricks so you still have the charm of something that is
intimate and handmade."
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