Will Arnett Is Back as the Hilariously Moody Bruce Wayne in ‘The LEGO Batman Movie’
If there were a single breakout star of ‘14’s “The LEGO Movie,” it would have to be Will Arnett’s emo Batman, a performance that gleefully out-camps the campiness of the Batmen from the ‘70s and ‘80s. Now, this ironic, LEGO version of the Caped Crusader gets a spinoff of his own in Chris McKay’s “The LEGO Batman Movie,” as Batman grapples with Gotham City’s pernicious villains, the responsibility of caring for an orphan he accidentally adopted and his own childhood demons.
As presented in “The LEGO Batman Movie,” Batman (also known as billionaire Bruce Wayne) spends most of his time floating alone in his cavernous Batcave, watching TV alone in his Bat-theater, warming up frozen dinners for just himself and talking to portraits of his dead parents. His long-suffering butler, Alfred Pennyworth (Ralph Fiennes) points out that Bruce should probably work on confronting his greatest fear – not “snake-clouds,” as Bruce belligerently insists, but being a part of a family again. “You need to take responsibility for your life,” said Alfred. “And it starts by raising the young orphan you adopted.”
The young orphan in question is Robin, voiced to sugary perfection by Arnett’s “Arrested Development” co-star, Michael Cera. Cera’s take on the character is, like Arnett’s Batman, a brilliant blend of self-referential humor and genuine pathos. Rounding out the cast is a veritable rogue’s gallery of nerd-cred A-listers including Rosario Dawson, crossing over from the Marvel Universe (as Claire Temple on Marvel’s various Netflix series) is Barbara Gordon (aka Batgirl). As Gotham’s new police commissioner, Gordon wants to team up with Batman to fight crime. The iconic Billy Dee Williams reprises his role as Two-Face from the1992 film “Batman Returns” and comedic heavyweights Jenny Slate and Zach Galifianakis check in as Harley Quinn and the Joker.
Director McKay is a lifelong Batman fan, but he’s also well aware of a major problem with earlier Batman films. “The cast of characters in Batman is a sausage-fest,” McKay told Film Journal International. “It’s a bunch of white guys, for the most part.” For “The LEGO Batman Movie,” McKay made a conscious effort to make Gotham look more like a real city – including casting Mariah Carey as Gotham’s mayor. “That was really important [to me], to find ways of making the world look like it looks outside and sound like it sounds outside,” said McKay.
“The LEGO Batman Movie” opens in theaters on Feb. 10.