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The LEGO Batman Movie is unlike any Batman movie that you've seen before. Not only is the titular hero -- voiced by Will Arnett -- semi-aware of pretty much every adaptation and incarnation of the character ever made, but he also liberally makes fun of more than a few of them. Just given the Dark Knight's impressive presence in pop culture, you'd think that some of this material would have been tricky to include -- but the reality is that director Chris McKay was given total creative freedom when it came to bringing his vision to life because he earned the complete trust of the studio.
I brought up the subject of The LEGO Batman Movie's most meta material when I sat down with Chris McKay this week at the film's Los Angeles press day. Knowing that different rules exist for different properties, I asked the filmmaker if he was given any kind of guidelines regarding what was out-of-bounds -- and he told me that "If there were, I didn't get those notes." He continued:
Maybe people shielded them from me? But no, Warner Bros., DC, they were super on-board to make the movie we wanted to make. I love Batman; I've loved Batman my entire life, and so I think they felt for the most part that they were in good hands, and we were going to make a movie that was about a different side of Batman, that saw Batman in a different way, that took a path that other Batman movie can't necessarily do. When I pitched the studio I told them I wanted to make 'Jerry Maguire as directed by Michael Mann with a lot of jokes in it.' And they saw the value in that kind of story.
Following up, I specifically asked about some of the sharper pokes that the movie makes (there's jab at Suicide Squad that's particularly funny), and whether or not there was ever any kind of hesitation. As Chris McKay explained, however, they never felt that any part of it was going too far because of the impressive flexibility Batman has demonstrated in pop culture over the last 75-plus years. Said McKay,
No, because I thought as a fan I thought I'd appreciate that -- because I love those characters. You call them flaws or idiosyncrasies or whatever they are, Batman has been a very flexible character. He can be interpreted by Adam West in those movies, he can be interpreted by Ben Affleck in these movies, and the Tim Burton movies. He's stood the test of time, and there's something really funny about that, that we know the character so much that there's people who may not be as much of a Batman fan as I am, they're still going to get these references.
At the end of it all, the jokes that are made at Batman's expense in The LEGO Batman Movie are not too dissimilar to ones that are told a classic "Roast' -- which is to say that they come from a place of love.
You can watch Chris McKay (who you'll see is sporting a number of comic book tattoos) talk about The LEGO Batman Movie in the video below
Audiences will get their opportunity to watch the loving takedown of Batman that is The LEGO Batman Movie when the film arrives in theaters this Friday, February 10th. Be sure to stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more about the animated blockbuster, including interviews with the cast and filmmakers!