The Lego Batman Movie: How toy figures and Batman combined to create the perfect parody
Before February 2014, if someone told you that you are probably going to love a movie in which Batman suddenly starts beat-boxing while he is throwing a tantrum in front of his butler Alfred, would you have believed that person?
The Lego Batman Movie, which has been receiving high praise from most critics and audiences around the world, did exactly that. The reason this animated film is getting all the love and attention (some have even called it the best Batman movie) is because this is the first successful feature-length parody of the Caped Crusader.
Making a parody feature on Batman is no small task. If you are parodying Batman, you better know most of the important aspects about the Batman lore, because a parody — through its mockery — actually aims to praise the subject in its own way. After all, you only parody things which are great and important enough to parodied.
And this is why one of the reasons why The Lego Batman Movie was a perfect parody is that two of the production companies behind the movie were Warner Animation Group (the animation division of Warner Bros Pictures) and DC Entertainment. Both these companies, especially Warner Bros, have been involved with Batman movies for a very long time.
It was largely because of the production companies that The Lego Batman Movie was packed with references to other Batman movies, shows and comics. In fact, there are so many references that it will be really difficult to list all of them out.
From the scene in which Alfred — while giving a lecture to Bruce Wayne — lists out all the major Batman films and shows since 1966, the references to scenes from The Dark Knight, Bane's voice (which is clearly based on Tom Hardy's impersonation of Bane in The Dark Knight Rises), a brief glimpse of the Nightwing suit to the reference to the brilliant comic The Killing Joke, The Lego Batman Movie was in a way a recap of all things Batman.
This not only shows the amount of research which must have gone into making the film but also adds depth to the comedy in the movie by not only making us laugh at the plot in the film but also reminding us of the rich history of the characters being parodied.
But the best part about The Lego Batman Movie is that it successfully made fun of some of the most dark and serious themes of Batman. In fact, this is something which began with The Lego Movie, released in February 2014.
What makes these movies based on Lego toys special is that the fans were finally able to see the jokes which they have been cracking about Batman's dark personality on screen. For example, one of the recurring jokes about Batman is that he focuses so much on the same problems over and over again that he almost looks like a rich brat.
The Lego Movie parodies this perfectly when Batman plays one of the songs composed by him:
Such intelligent parody achieves the unique goal of presenting the same old story about the brooding Dark Knight in a new, refreshingly comical light without losing the essence of the qualities which made the original character popular in the first place.
One of the best examples of this rich parody is the way the relationship between Batman and his arch-nemesis The Joker is depicted in The Lego Batman Movie. The way Batman and The Joker have obsessed over their hatred for each other in almost all the times they have fought against each other in any adaptation makes it almost seem like they are just close friends messing around with each other, or, as The Lego Batman Movie so hilariously exaggerates, lovers who are in a really unconventional and even abusive relationship.
Batman and The Joker are often seen by the audience as two friends who keep bickering with each other until someone in the room decides to lighten the moment by shouting, "Get a room, guys!"
In fact, even the extremely grim comic The Killing Joke perfectly describes this troubled bond between Batman and The Joker.
Here is an animated depiction of the last part of the comic:
Even Heath Ledger's iconic role of The Joker in The Dark Knight suggests the presence of this really hostile friendship when he tells Batman, "I don't wanna kill you. What would I do without you?...You complete me."
The Lego Batman Movie is a great Batman film because the film never cracks mindless or frivolous jokes about the character. The jokes in the movie are extremely meaningful because they are rooted in some of the most important and serious traits about the character or fictional events associated with him.
Perhaps the biggest evidence of this aspect about the movie is its message about the importance of having family and friends. Batman has always been a lonely character, who struggles with the conflict of the desire to work alone because of the fear of losing more loved ones against the natural instinct to find love from family and friends.
This is again a recurring topic in Batman adaptations, perhaps best depicted by the scene in The Dark Knight Rises when Alfred tells Bruce Wayne about his fantasy of seeing Bruce with a wife and kids.
Robin's obsession with following each and every instruction of Batman in The Lego Batman Movie is also rooted in the character's desire to impress his mentor and get some fatherly affection or words of praise from the cold, stoic superhero.
Look past the zingers and the perfect animation of The Lego Batman Movie and you will realise that Batman fans love the movie so much because the film not only respects the Batman lore but adds to it and draws inspiration from its lessons.
In other words, despite being a parody, The Lego Batman Movie is everything Batman.
P.S. Did you know that Condiment King is actually a DC villain?