The LEGO Batman Movie is more than just a spinoff of The LEGO Movie and a way to give the block version of the Dark Knight his own animated movie. It's also a tribute to Batman's decades-long history in the comics and other media. From the hero's iconic 1960s theme music to obscure villains he's tangled with, there were a lot of Easter Eggs and callbacks snuck into the narrative. The movie is enjoyable enough for people who aren't too familiar with Batman outside of the basics, but for the hardcore fans, there were a lot of subtle things to pick up on.
Now that many of you have seen The LEGO Batman Movie, we've gathered the 10 cleverest Batman references that were sneaked in. Also, if you noticed one that didn't make the cut, don't hesitate to let us know in the comments section. Let's start off with one of the less-appreciated items from Batman's collection of tools, inventions and gadgets.
Warning: there will be SPOILERS for The LEGO Batman Movie ahead!
There are a number of Batman '66 references sprinkled throughout The LEGO Batman Movie, and we'll discuss some more of them later in the list, but arguably the most notable recurring one is the Bat Shark-Repellant, that infamous spray used against a toothy adversary in the 1966 Batman movie. The repellant is seen in The LEGO Batman Movie as part of the Caped Crusader's arsenal, but he didn't have any problem with Dick Grayson touching it, as he deemed it "useless." How wrong he was, as later during the movie's climactic conflict, Dick, now Robin, successfully used it against Jaws. See, having the repellant came in handy after all!
It was expected that we would see other Batman villains besides The Joker, and sure enough, heavy hitters like The Riddler, Catwoman, Two-Face and Bane showed up at the beginning of the movie to help take over Gotham city. However, the Clown Prince of Crime dug a lot deeper into the rogues gallery to pick out the "Z-grade" villains, as they're rightfully called. These folks included Crazy Quilt, Egghead, Kite-Man, Polka-Dot Man, the Mutant Leader from The Dark Knight Returns, Orca, Magpie and The Condiment King. That's right, a guy that shoots mustard and ketchup out of guns was evidently integral to the invasion.
After defeating his villains and saving Gotham City once again, Batman returned home to lounge in his bathrobe, watch Jerry Maguire, eat some lobster thermidor and talk quietly to the family photos. Eventually Alfred noted that Bruce was going through one of his "phases" again, which he'd previously gone through in 2016, 2012, 2008, 2005, 1997, 1995, 1992, 1989 and 1966. In case the dates and imagery that went along with them went over your head, these are all the times Batman has had movies before. In that same order, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, The Dark Knight Rises, The Dark Knight, Batman Begins, Batman & Robin, Batman Forever, Batman Returns, Batman and the theatrical movie based off the 1960s Batman TV series.
One of The LEGO Batman Movie's minor characters was Chief O'Hara, the woman who assisted Commissioners James Gordon and Barbara Gordon as part of the Gotham City Police Department. While the woman herself is someone brand new to the Batman canon, her last name is all too familiar to fans of the 1960s Batman TV series. Besides Commissioner Gordon, the most recognizable police figure on that show was Chief Clancy O'Hara, a stereotypical Irish cop who also made sporadic appearances in the comics. The use of O'Hara in the movie is obviously more to pay homage to the character rather than faithfully adapt him (well, as much as you can in a LEGO movie), but it was welcome nonetheless.
As mentioned earlier, The LEGO Batman Movie dropped a number of Batman '66 references, so let's just go over some of the secondary ones in this section. Most importantly, the famous theme song is heard at multiple times, from being worked into some of the soundtrack to being Batman's car horn. During the final battle when Batman is beating up some bad guys, the famous action sound effects are seen. BAM!, POW!, BIFF!, etc. Finally, Alfred dons the classic Adam West Batman suit when he jumps in to help Batman and Robin fight the forces of evil, though he later trades that in for a Batsuit that's more butler-y.
The Parade And Prince
Sometime in the beginning of The LEGO Batman Movie, one of Joker's failed criminal schemes is mentioned; one that involved a parade and Prince music. This is an obvious reference to the 1989 Batman movie, where Joker and his goons threw a parade at the Gotham City Bicentennial to give away money to the citizens in attendance. It was all a ruse, though, as Joker attempted to kill everyone with Smylex. There were some casualties, but fortunately, Batman was able to take the gas-filled balloons and release them into the atmosphere, where they'd pop away from the population. Evidently LEGO Joker tried to pull a similar scheme way back when.
"He's Been At The Job A Long Time"
Earlier we talked about Batman's previous "phases," i.e. his last movies and the especially weird times with his '60s TV series. However, those weren't the only references to the Caped Crusader's past. During the gala event that officially welcomed Barbara Gordon as the new GCPD Commissioner, Barbara talked about how Batman has been on the job for a long time. A REALLY long time. She then proceeded to show a photo slideshow stretching back across the superhero's nearly 80-year-history, from his time as one of the Superfriends to the costume he wore when he started his crimefighting career all those decades ago. Ever since Detective Comics #27 was released in 1939, Batman has been a pop culture juggernaut, so briefly looking back at his history was fun, even if, as Barbara noted, he's failed to permanently defeat/capture his opponents.
Batman Beyond And Nightwing Suits
Batman has a lot of different costumes on hand, from the culturally insensitive Mariachi Batsuit to the questionable Silent But Deadly Batsuit. All of these have been useful for at least one mission in the past, and while most of these were made up for necessary comedy, there were two notable ones straight from the Batman media world. The first was the Batman Beyond suit, primarily worn by Terry McGinnis in the animated TV series, but which a future Tim Drake also briefly donned in the comics. There was a cape attached, but the trademark red Bat-insignia over the all-black costume was immediately recognizable. Then around the movie's halfway point, Dick Grayson temporarily traded in his Robin suit for a "Nightwing" suit. This refers to the guise Dick has held since he became an adult and moved out of Batman's shadow. Unlike the Batman Beyond suit, the Nightwing suit barely resembles what Dick wears in the comics, instead looking like a Bat-variation of the first Nightwing costume Dick wore.
During the climactic battle against the villains from other areas of pop culture, Barbara Gordon, now wearing the Batgirl costume, asks one of the baddies if they want to see a magic trick, specifically how she'll make them "disappear." This was merely here punching (or kicking, it's hard to remember) said baddie with might, but it's also a subtle reference to a more disturbing "magic trick" from Batman history. When Heath Ledger's Joker crashed the mob boss meeting in The Dark Knight, he offered to show them a magic trick, which ended up being slamming one of the goons' eyes into a pencil, immediately killing him. Such violence wouldn't be welcome in a LEGO movie, but the adult fans in the audience surely caught the significance of Barbara's quip.
There were other DC Comics elements outside of the Batman lore addressed in The LEGO Batman Movie, but it's the numerous Suicide Squad references that deserve their own section. First off, Harley Quinn and Killer Croc, two members of the team seen on the big screen last year, appeared in the story, and even Captain Boomerang, a villain who's more associated with The Flash, was part of the invasion. Then when Batman is freed from Arkham Asylum by Barbara Gordon, he scoffs at the idea of having a team of super villains helping to protect the innocent. This is funny for two reasons. One, Batman later has to depend on his rogues gallery to help stop Joker and the other pop culture villains from destroying Gotham City. Second, in the current Batman comic book series written by Tom King, Batman recently built his own Suicide Squad for an integral mission. The LEGO Batman Movie had already been long written by the time this comic book twist came out, so it's just coincidental and amusing that it ties into what went down in the comics a few months ago.