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Against the odds, a movie inspired by and partially made to market a pre-existing toy has emerged as something wondrous and acclaimed. Directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, The LEGO Movie is a big hit with critics and audiences alike. It's currently rocking a 96% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and has already made $80 million domestically since it opened just last week! Much of the credit for the film's success is being given to Lord and Miller, who put a great deal of thought into how to translate the iconic building blocks into something stupendous. Some of this work can be seen above in the barrage of possible characters designs for the movie's action heroine, Wyldstyle.
This image was included in an intriguing The New York Times article. As you can see, the female lead went through a lot of looks before settling on her current "counterculture ninja graffiti artist" vibe. She was meant to look tough, but also subversive, making her a direct foil to the hero Emmet, who is as square and conventional as can be.
"We looked at reference material, people with a lot of tattoos and with really eccentric ways of dressing," Lord explained. "They’re kind of signaling to everybody: I’m a certain kind of person, and you might have to raise your level of cool before you can even talk to me."
Miller described developing the film, saying, "We have this flaw where we get excited by what seems like unsolvable problems. We enjoyed the challenge of a puzzle." The directors found inspiration in the various stop-motion "brick films" aspiring movie makers post online, using LEGOs as the basis for sets, and mini-figs as characters. This encouraged Lord and Miller to embrace the specifics of the blocks, from their crude look to their clicking sounds.
With the help of Chris McKay (Robot Chicken), they developed a 3D animation style for The LEGO Movie that perfectly mimicked the look and texture of LEGOs. "Our hope was to make this feel like a 10-year-old Henry Selick and a 10-year-old Michael Bay got together in their basement and built this outrageous, absurd, funny and sincere movie," McKay says of the film's tone.
Part of this imaginative and enthusiastic tone is reflected in this alternate design for the Master Builder's submarine, a collaboration between Emmet, Wydlstyle, Batman, Unikitty, Benny the Spaceman, and Vitruvius. You can see a bit of the influence of each below, from Batman's preference for black (or dark grey) blocks, to Unikitty's girly flourishes, and Wyldstyle's signature graffiti design.
For more fun from The LEGO Movie, check out this clip, which features Will Arnett as Batman, Alison Brie as Unikitty, Nick Offerman as Metal Beard and of course Chris Pratt as Emmet "The Special" Brickowoski.