While DC Films was the clear highlight of Warner Bros.’ Hall H Panel at San Diego Comic-Con last Saterday, one of its upcoming animated features—which also happens to star a very popular DC hero— was also given a moment to shine.
Moments after Suicide Squad wrapped up its segment of the panel, The LEGO Batman Movie was introduced with a short clip (presumably a Comic-Con exclusive) of a LEGO-ized panel, with a LEGO-ized version of Conan O’ Brian (the moderator of the entire presentation) introducing the main characters of the movie: Batman, Robin, Batgirl, and Joker. After that, the real-life panel commenced with director Chris McKay and actor Will Arnett introducing the first full trailer for the movie, which you can watch below:
True to McKay’s word, the plot of the film (as seen in the trailer) very much plays out like an action-packed, superhero version of About a Boy, depicting Arnett’s version of Batman—first introduced to audiences in 2014’s The LEGO Movie—as something of a man-child while Robin is introduced as the young kid who forces Batman to grow up. “Batman’s an orphan, and he’s always been alone, so he’s been kind of left to his own devices,” Arnett said of the character. “I think he has a lot of issues.”
By the way, this is the first time we get to see (and hear) Michael Cera’s rendition of Dick Grayson/Robin, as he is featured quite prominently in the trailer’s second half. Featured less prominently are the other characters in the cast aside from Batman, Robin, and Alfred. In the second half, we only get the briefest of glimpses at the Joker (Zack Galifianakis), Harley Quinn (voice actor TBA), and Barbara Gordon/Batgirl (Rosario Dawson).
Speaking of the Joker, expect a slightly different hero-villain dynamic between Batman and him, as Chris McKay revealed to USA Today prior to Comic-Con 2016: “The Joker sees himself on the same level as Batman, a peer, at the top of the game. But Batman says that’s not the case, which sends Joker into a spiral trying to prove to Batman that he is indeed the greatest enemy.”
As such, chaos ensues when the Joker gathers up his villainous companions to stage a hostile takeover of Gotham. The Joker oversees the chaos from the safety of his juiced-up convertible (driven by Harley Quinn). Not quite unlike the fancy ride that Jared Leto’s Joker drives around in the upcoming live-action Suicide Squad movie.
“That’s kind of the Joker’s General Patton car, where he can survey the battle,” McKay says. “It’s loud and flashy, the inner view of himself writ large in car form with crazy, zebra-striped seats.”
McKay also had quite a bit to say about the role of Robin in the movie. As seen in the trailer, the character begins the movie as Dick Grayson, a nerdy kid whom Bruce accidentally adopts at a charity auction.
“Robin is a super-positive kid who always sees the glass as half full. Really, at the end of the day, he just wants a hug,” McKay said. “Michael brings the sweetness and honesty.”
Thus, the emotional crux of the film is the burgeoning relationship between Batman and Robin as Batman tries—begrudgingly—to embrace his new normal and open his world up to other people.
“LEGO Batman is About a Boy as directed by Michael Mann,” McKay says. “This is a single guy who suddenly has a kid literally drop into his world.”
In an interview with Collider, producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller described Chris McKay as a “real Batman aficionado” and called the film a “90-minute easter egg.” This sentiment still rings true, as McKay confirmed—both to USA Today and to the attending audience at the Comic-Con presentation—that the movie will dive deep into “Batman lore and DC Comics lore.” While McKay noted that Batman’s iconic Rouges Gallery was “going to be completely filled out in Lego”, he also told Comic-Con audiences that they should also expect appearances from more obscure Batman villains and characters. One character in particular that he mentioned was the Mutant Leader from Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns story.
At the end of the presentation, there was only time for two questions. The first one was when will fans see Arnett as Batman in live-action. Arnett’s response? “I think [Ben Affleck] has a pretty good handle on it right now.”
The second question, also aimed at Arnett: “Would Arnett be interested in a LEGO Suicide Squad movie?” “That’s above my paygrade, but sure,” Arnett said. “There’s a slight ‘Dirty Dozen’ aspect to this movie,” McKay replied.
That was it for the LEGO Batman portion of the presentation, but the film’s Comic-Con presence didn’t stop there. LEGO also unveiled two new playsets based on The LEGO Batman Movie on display at the Con(as part of the film’s marketing campaign, of course).
The first set has the LEGO Batmobile and the minifigures of Batman, Robin, Manbat, and the Kabuki twins (The Penguin’s costumed henchwomen). The second set features the LEGO Jokermobile and has minifigures of Batgirl, the Joker, and Harley Quinn.
The LEGO Batman Movie is directed by Chris McKay from a screenplay by Seth Grahame-Smith. Will Arnett reprises his role as Bruce Wayne/Batman, with a cast that includes Ralph Fiennes (Alfred Pennyworth), Rosario Dawson (Barbara Gordon/Batgirl), Michael Cera (Dick Greyson), Zack Galifianakis (the Joker), and Mariah Carey as the Mayor of Gotham.
The plot synopsis reads as follows:
In the irreverent spirit of fun that made ‘The LEGO® Movie’ a worldwide phenomenon, the self-described leading man of that ensemble – LEGO Batman – stars in his own big-screen adventure: ‘The LEGO® Batman Movie.’ But there are big changes brewing in Gotham, and if he wants to save the city from The Joker’s hostile takeover, Batman may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up.
What do you think? Are you looking forward to The LEGO Batman Movie, based on the info above?
If you somehow made it to the end of this article, here’s a little treat:
Brandon is your average nerd with a love for nerdy things (games, comics, anime/manga, etc.). He also loves reading and writing and plans to be an author someday. For now, he writes with passion and curiosity about the world of animation. He lives with his family in North Carolina and is currently attending college.