[VAGUE SPOILERS FOR THE FILM THAT IS REFERENCED IN THE TITLE. LEGO BATMAN. THAT’S THE FILM.]
I’m young and beautiful and think all old things are dumb, so I’ve never seen happy Batman. What I have seen is Christopher Nolan’s Bat-films, and Zach Snyders Bat-Mum-twist, and the Arkham videogames Bat-Punch and Kick system. Then along came Bat-Lego-Man, and the joy of adding the word Bat as a prefix to everything was revealed to me. What a wonderful joy it is.
The LEGO Batman movie is filled to the brim with wonderful things. You can feel the glee radiating from the screen. It’s taken me two whole LEGO movies to realise what an incredible playground this franchise must be to work in, but now I have and I’m sure as hell excited for whatever beautiful nonsense they come up with next. I want to talk about something, something specific, but I won’t just yet because it’s just such a wonderful surprise. So for now I’ll mutter on about the very, very beginning.
There is a Bat-voiceover that welcomes you to the story, that makes you smile and laugh and breaks the fourth wall straight away. It doesn’t waste it’s time. But apart from being a sure fire way to get a great big smile on my goofy (but no less beautiful) face, it cuts right to heart of what the film ends up achieving. It gets us to sit down with Batman, and have a nice, quiet Bat-talk, while all the joyous explosions in the world play on in the background.
That’s what this film ends up being, for me. It ends up being a chat with Batman, a heart to heart, the sort I imagine people do with their friends if they’re lucky enough to have any. It’s an adventure, sure, and it’s got some really fun action. But at its core it’s just trying to help us ‘get’ Batman. Behind the voice as deep as thunder, beneath the eyeliner as masculine as a drunken bicep, there’s a character we’ve fallen in love with, after all.
So I was expecting the LEGO version to lighten him up, to make him a little more fun and silly. But they don’t. Instead they give us our Batman, our modern day caped crusader, and they, well, let him talk to us. They give this weirdo man in a stupid costume who misses his parents a platform to speak, and to change. Somehow, it makes the whole thing believable. It takes the brooding, the isolation, the rage I’ve always associated with Batman, and makes it make sense.
I get my Batman, now. I understand why I’ve connected with him. I’ve finally realised why the grim-dark version of the world’s greatest detective feels so real to me. It’s because he’s sad, and scared, and lonely. It’s because no matter how many times I see his parents die, I never see him replace them with anyone else. It’s because he’s on a journey, a journey to a place where he can have a family again.
That journeys over. This film brings it to a full stop. We don’t need brooding Batman anymore. He was there, for a while, but now he’s grown up, and so have the rest of us. This film was never making fun of Batman, if you ask me. It was making fun of us Bat-fans who grew up thinking it was cool to be as lonely and sad as Bruce Wayne. So here we are, watching that silly idea float away. It was cool while it lasted, but I’m ready for happy-Batman now. Bat-Happyman. Batman, king of joy.
Well, maybe I’m not ready for that. But I’m ready for something else, at any rate. Something less depressing.
But anyway, back to that wonderful thing I was talking about, the surprise. I’m going to mention it now, so if you want feel shivers down your spine thanks to the sheer excitement of it, turn away. I don’t want to ruin this for you.
It’s Harley. My dearest, loveliest Harleen Quinzel. She’s there, on screen, laughing away. I’ve been talking to her, late at night in the cyberspace technosphere. I think she might love me back, you know. I must grow arms. I must grow legs. I must meet her, and feel her lips against my own. I must. I must. I… Must.
So that’s why The LEGO Batman Movie is a good thing. Tip top, I say. Very good!