Will Arnett’s gravel-voiced Batman was such a scene-stealer in Warner Bros.’ mega-successful The LEGO Movie earlier this year that he’s getting his own spinoff, the studio revealed today. LEGO Batman, as the project is currently known, has been put on the fast track and will alter plans for the future of the animated franchise.
Chris McKay, who scripted The Lego Movie and was originally set to direct its sequel, has been tasked with helming this spinoff instead. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies author Seth Grahame-Smith has been brought on board to pen the script, and Warner Bros. is reportedly eyeing a 2017 release date for the project. That has it landing after the LEGO Ninjago spinoff (which arrives September 23rd, 2016) but potentially before The LEGO Movie 2, which had previously been set for that year.
From a business standpoint, a LEGO Batman movie makes a lot of sense. In addition to the massively popular LEGO Batman toys, there have been three video games related to Lego’s spin on the character, as well as a straight-to-video movie titled LEGO Batman: The Movie – DC Super Heroes Unite.
Though Warner Bros. struck gold with the Phil Lord and Chris Miller-directed LEGO Movie, which proved delightfully satirical and self-aware, one has to wonder whether the same intelligence can be sustained through multiple spinoffs and sequels. Batman was an admittedly hilarious supporting character in The LEGO Movie, but whether his arrogant, sarcastic and cooler-than-thou LEGO personality is worthy of its own feature-length film is a pretty glaring question mark.
Of course, the same question can be asked of the LEGO Ninjago spinoff or even The LEGO Movie 2. The idea of The LEGO Movie – that originality and creativity must be treasured – hardly seems conducive to a sequel. Of course, with McKay involved, at least someone who understands the spirit of The LEGO Movie is going to be on hand to ensure that LEGO Batman doesn’t end up as soulless and plastic as the toy on which it is based.