Volume 6, Issue 7!
“On Legos and Batman”
After two weeks as the reigning box office champ, it’s not outside of the realm of believability to call The Lego Batman movie a sizeable hit. It’s fun; action packed, and most importantly, features an aspect of the Dark Knight that’s been sorely lacking in the past decade: family.
While the idea of “family” may be a weird thing to associate with Batman at first, it’s really not when you think about it. Bruce Wayne’s driving force to become a vigilante stems from the loss of his family. He becomes the Batman in order to not only avenge the death of his family, but to prevent it from happening to someone else. That drive is what leads him to eventually “adopting” Dick Grayson, who becomes the first Robin, and then Jason Todd, who becomes the second Robin, and allowing Barbara Gordon to become Batgirl, and allowing Tim Drake to-you get the point. Despite the dark and tragic beginnings of DC’s hero, there’s actually a lot of light hidden amongst the shadows.
Of course, recently you’d be hard pressed to find it. Batman v Superman had a Bruce Wayne who was older and more beaten down, the death of his protégé is one of his major scarring moments that lead to him taking a more brutal approach to crime fighting. And as much as I love Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman, his mantra of there being “no Robins” always stuck me as kind of odd, especially when he ended up doing his own version of the character anyways in The Dark Knight Rises. As ridiculous as it is for a grown man to run around with a child and punch criminals in the head, Robin and the rest of the Batman Family serve a very important role in the mythos. They help ground Bruce Wayne and prevent him from going too far over the edge.
A great example of this is the storyline “A Lonely Place of Dying”, which features the debut of Tim Drake, who would become the third Robin. Still reeling from the death of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker, Batman is in danger of going over the line. Tim Drake, after deducing Batman’s secret identity, eventually convinces Batman to allow him to become the new Robin, because he knows the importance of the Boy Wonder to the Batman. Without the sidekick, the Dark Knight just spirals into a void of loneliness and violence, and it becomes hard for him to hope again.
It’s this aspect of Batman that Lego Batman not only gets right, but completely obliterates nearly every other adaptation of Batman that came before it. Sure, the idea of Batman coming home to an empty cave is played for laughs, but it’s also used later in the film to show just how lonely Bruce Wayne is. For all of his posturing and attitude, the Lego version of Batman is still just a kid. It’s not until he learns to ask for help and rely on others that he truly understands what it means to be a hero.
The importance of Batman allies isn’t a new idea. Countless comic books have done it. Batman The Animated Series has done it. Hell, even Joel Schumacher did it (badly) in Batman & Robin, but it was still nice to see Lego Batman remind us of the importance of friendship and family, even when you’re dressed up like a giant bat. Hell, if anything, hopefully the higher ups at Warner Bros are paying attention and tweaking their script for the solo Batfleck movie to reflect this.