Deadpool shook up the superhero world by ridiculing and deconstructing the genre, which is exactly what Chris McKay is seeking to achieve with his debut animated feature The Lego Batman Movie. And yet, much like the Ryan Reynolds endeavour, though committed to its comedy, it remains an engaging production, managing to satirise and mock the formula, while abiding by it at the very same time.
Will Arnett reprises his role as Batman, the elusive caped crusader who lives a somewhat lonely existence, alongside his only true friend, and butler, Alfred (Ralph Fiennes). The only consistent in his life is the Joker (Zach Galifianakis), who is growing bored of his adversary’s lack of disdain, hoping to conjure up his most evil, destructive plan yet, if only to get Batman’s full attention and the hatred he so craves. But with new commissioner Barbara Gordon (Rosario Dawson) doing a rather good job of keeping Gotham safe, for once, Batman may just have to create and manufacture his own problems, simply just to solve them, and be lauded as the rogue hero he considers himself to be.
The Lego Batman Movie thrives in taking the piss, even poking fun at Batman v Superman and Suicide Squad in the process – and yet it does so, again, much like with Deadpool, in an affectionate manner, as you can tell those behind the gags are definitely fans, and this is coming from a very good place, it’s never mean-spirited in its execution. The character of Batman himself is ripe for ridicule too, as one who takes himself so immensely seriously. A notion perpetuated by Christoper Nolan, who placed his trilogy in a dark and desolate world, playing up to the more naturalistic elements of the role, and this gives McKay much leeway, as those who don’t smile are so often the easiest to smile about. Surprisingly, amidst the joke-telling, this film does actually offer a rather sad, intimate look into the eponymous protagonist’s life, somehow managing to get behind the mask in a way many other filmmakers have struggled to achieve,
But fear not, at its core this is an irreverent, playful, absurd and hilariously meta piece of cinema, which, following on from The Lego Movie, is exactly what we had hoped for it to be. With a scattergun approach to joke-telling, unrelenting in that regard, the film’s greatest achievement is the success rate, with the majority of punchlines landing, to make for a film that will have both parents and children alike in absolute stitches – and sometimes you simply cannot ask for more than that.