Thursday, 16 October 2014

LEGO Batman Movie Coming in 2017

News has broken that beyond the Ninjago movie in 2016, the following theatrical release based on LEGO will star Batman. This will push The LEGO Movie 2 back to 2018 or possibly even later if key members of the creative team are working on both films. With LEGO looking to capitalise on their success it seems that fans should expect regular releases from here on in.  Is LEGO Batman ready for his own adventure? 

The Hollywood Reporter cites that “Batman proved to be so popular in the Warner Bros. hit The Lego Movie” as the reason for a LEGO Batman movie being fast tracked for production. Whilst a really fun spin was put on the character for The LEGO Movie, it will be a real challenge for director Chris McKay and writer Seth Grahame-Smith to keep the comedic, self-obsessed character consistent but also broaden him out to lead a movie of his own. To change the character from the semi-capable Batman of The LEGO Movie would lose the appeal he created, but that character worked so well as a supporting cast member rather than a lead. A way around this would be to have him surrounded by his Justice League friends…

This is purely speculation, but a LEGO Justice League movie – or LEGO Batman movie prominently featuring the Justice League characters – would make sense for the studio. Warner Brothers are extremely keen to promote the Justice League to replicate Marvel’s success with the Avengers, and many upcoming DC projects have been tooled to utilise the Justice League. The Man of Steel sequel, which went from Superman sequel, to Superman-Batman team up, to Justice League origins story is the most high profile example. The LEGO video games kicked off in the DC world with the popular LEGO Batman, which was followed up with two sequels prominently called LEGO Batman but featuring the full roster of DC heroes. This speaks to the dilemma DC and Warner Brothers are in, which is that Batman continues to enjoy a much higher profile than the rest of the DC line up (Superman excluded) combined. 

From the point of view of LEGO however, Batman should not be seen as the break out star of The LEGO Movie. LEGO Batman has been damn popular ever since the sets stopped being available around 2006, the sets sell well and Batman is well on his way to being as closely associated with LEGO as Star Wars is. The twist on the classic Batman character presented in The LEGO Movie did indeed appeal to savvy kids, faux geeks and adults – but the breakout characters were Emmet and Wyldstyle, both who connected with audiences without any pre-existing knowledge.

The number of children who eagerly greet the two characters, often screaming their names, when they appear at the LEGOLAND parks is testimony to their popularity. The characters made for a great comedy double act in The LEGO Movie, with their appealing flaws and positive messages allowing children to really connect with them. That these characters are so recognised and so well loved already shows that Batman was not the most important ingredient in The LEGO Movie.

This has been reflected in sales, with the series of Minifigures based on The LEGO Movie having seen the best sell through for some time, and sets based on the film having exceeded expectations boosting LEGO to becoming the world’s biggest toy manufacturer. LEGO Super Heroes doesn’t need the boost of a movie to keep the sets selling, but The LEGO Movie theme clearly couldn’t have existed without its inspiration. Emmet and Wyldstyle now have a place in the imagination of children, and can be used to great effect by LEGO. Delaying their return in favour of the caped crusader definitely works better for Warner Brothers and DC more than it does for LEGO.

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