The ultimate movie of the year so far is, without a doubt, The Lego Batman Movie.
In order to appreciate the magic of The Lego Batman Movie, one must first talk about The Lego Movie (2014). When The Lego Movie came out, everyone thought it was just a cash grab and no one expected how enjoyable and how intelligent the film would be.
The Lego Movie, took a good long look at user patterns and behaviours and wove that into a compelling narrative about conforming, following instructions versus being a rule-breaker and using the basic Lego piece as a building block for creating entirely new narratives and universes.
The other aspect of the film that gave fans an extra kick was the ease with which the film brought together characters from different narrative universes like characters from the Justice League and J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and George Lucas’ Star Wars and many many more. For this to take place in a time when IP rights is a constant source of conflict between studios whether it’s about who owns the rights to the X-Men franchise or the Fantastic Four, or whether we’ll ever see any of these characters interact with other Marvel characters like Spiderman, and the Avengers, is the icing on the cake.
And on top of all this, you have that kickass song – Everything is Awesome! An earworm sure to possess your headspace after you hear it.
So when it came to The Lego Batman Movie, I was so sure they would not be able to top that. Boy, was I sorely mistaken. This movie is ALL the Batman you could ever want. From Adam West onward, the film lovingly pokes fun at all the incarnations of Batman including the 1990s Warner Brothers animated series and the godawful Joel Schumacher Batmans.
A huge part of the success of the film stems from the long history that Batman as an IP has had. Coming out of the theatre I had a really strong urge to tell people that there is no story. Instead the metanarrative of the Batman franchise has been brought down to the level of narrative.
I’m not sure if I’m overreaching with theory here but it almost feels like the Lego movies have become another layer of the carnivalesque. The Lego movies exist very much in the same strata as fanfiction and other fanworks where the narrative space of the movies (and the toy actually) become this alternate space to experiment with canon narratives very much like how all fictional spaces function as a carnivalesque spaces to experiment with the status quo of reality. The best part is that all of this is only possible with Lego. It’s almost as if the toy is a medium all of its own that’s different from that of CGI or stop-motion because of the business-end of how the IPs are distributed and understood between the toy company and the owners of the original superhero/fantasy IPs like Marvel/Disney/etc.
I love everything about this film. Everything about this film is amazing. From the Batman-Joker reverse love story, to the homoerotic undertones of Robin’s underpants. I couldn’t stop laughing from the moment Batman started talking, all the way to the end. And I very much want to watch this film in theatres again.
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