To commemorate the 80th anniversary of Batman (#Batman80, #LongLiveTheBat), AFJ has decided to join in the fun with columns, lists, and reviews from now until Batman Day (Sept. 15th, 2019). The incredible thing about 80 years of Batman in pop culture is that we can literally feature anything from comics to movies to the fact that Batman could have been a Yellow Lantern. Yes, the same as Sinestro (Google it Millenials). Today, we turn our attention to 2017. Enjoy Junkies! #AFJ4LIFE

Starring: Will Arnett, Jenny Slate, Ralph Fiennes, Michael Cera, Zach Galifianakis, Rosario Dawson, Channing Tatum, Billy Dee Williams
Directed by: Chris McKay
Written by: Seth Grahame-Smith, Chris McKenna
Studio: Warner Bros.
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1h 44min

3 years since the Lego Movie changed the way we see “Lego movies”. Hopefully, some of us have seen the way we view toys differently as well since that film came out. It has been a long drought, but thankfully the powers that be did not rush a Lego Movie sequel to capitalize on the hype. Instead, they launched a spin-off movie, featuring their version of Batman (again played by Will Arnett), from the Lego Movie, into his own feature film. Is it worth the wait? Yes, and everything is still awesome.

It is hinted at, in the Lego Movie, that this incarnation of the Dark Knight is every bit of a loner as his other multi-media counterparts. What this Batman wasn’t afraid to hide was the love he had for himself and how awesome he felt he was. That really isn’t your typical Batman story that any medium would tackle. Being a Lego Movie, the reins are off and we are allowed to see just how full of himself this Batman is.

Upon foiling another dastardly scheme by the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), Batman reveals to the Joker that he, the Joker, is not a part of what makes, him, Batman, special. The Joker is just another villain, inconsequential to what drives the Dark Knight. This infuriates the Joker and starts one of the plots spinning in The Lego Batman Movie.

Upon celebrating yet another victory back at Wayne Manor, we learn two things. The first is that Batman is a huge fan of romantic comedies, especially ones where couples get together at the end. The second and more relevant item is that Batman talks to an old family photo, a selfie taken at Crime Alley, just moments before his parents died, as a way to get praise for saving Gotham. It seems that this Batman longs to be a part of something more than the praise and admiration of the people of Gotham.
The Joker begins to formulate a plan that if he and the other rogues of Gotham are incarcerated, then Batman would longer have a purpose. In short, if Batman doesn’t have villains to battle, then how can he go on being Batman? All this transpires on the same night when Commissioner Gordon (Hector Elizondo) retires, his daughter Barbara (Rosario Dawson) takes his position, and Bruce Wayne unknowingly adopts Dick Grayson (Michael Cera). So with crime eliminated from Gotham, Batman has no choice but to turn to his attention to his adopted son. However, he knows that the Joker is up to something and believes that Superman’s (Channing Tatum) Phantom Zone gun will rid Gotham of the Joker forever, so he decides to steal it. Does Dick have what it takes?

There is a lot going on in this film. Can Batman just be Bruce Wayne if all the crime is eliminated in Gotham? Can Bruce Wayne take a chance on having a family after what has happened to him before? Is he such an outsider that even the Justice League wouldn’t invite him to a reunion party? These aren’t your typical plots that one finds in a movie featuring Batman, yet that is the appeal of the film. Director Chris McKay and his writing team are able to tackle Batman’s mythos in a comedy, which has never been done before. We all know that Batman’s rogues, outside of the Joker, are pretty laughable, and the film even highlights many of the truly obscure ones. By wiping the slate clean and getting the Joker into a seat of real power, Batman faces a true challenge with a group of villains that would make any hero, from any comic or film, cringe. Spoilers prevent me from revealing that list, but even I was impressed to the depth at which Warner Brothers went.

Much like the Lego Movie, the important factors remain the same. There is a lesson here for the kids, that you can’t be a hero if all you really care about is yourself. This Batman starts out as a self-centered egotist who has to see the light. When he does see the light, he has to make the choice between protecting his new family or allowing them to join in his crusade against crime. Hopefully, the kids will get it. If not, they will one day. The film is ripe with all we love about the character of Batman. I would say that, again, this Lego movie is more for the adults than the kids. Thankfully, each group ensures that the other is present and both will have a great time.

Favorite New Bat Gadget: The Bat Merch Gun
Favorite Retro Bat Gadget: The Bat Shark Repellent
Favorite Batman Retro Villain: Egg Head
Favorite Modern Batman Villain: Bane (voiced by Doug Benson)
Favorite Returning Actor to his Batman Villain Character: Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent/ Two-Face
Favorite Obscure Reference: Fox Force Five (Pulp Fiction)

The Actress with too many Superhero credits in the film: Rosario Dawson
The Lego Batman Movie - Barbara Gordon/ Batgirl
Netfllix’s Daredevil/ Luke Cage/ Jessica Jones/ Iron Fist/ Defenders - Claire Temple (aka The Night Nurse)
DC Universe: Justice League - Wonder Woman
DC Universe: Wonder Woman - Artemis
Sin City - Gail


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