When it comes to the LEGO Batman Movie, everything is awesome. From the very first black frame to the last white frame, the movie was funny, action-packed and, as usual, had a fantastic moral component. The movie is all about family and offers terrific potential to talk to kids about the need to belong, the pain of loss, and the rewards of risking love.
by Jen Schlameuss-Perry
Caution: Contains spoilers.
Things to consider
More and more, I’m feeling like the writers and producers of kid’s movies are making them for the parents every bit that they are making them for the kids. The difference with the LEGO movies is, the “adult” references are not in any way inappropriate, but instead are nostalgic. I cannot say enough good things about them. And, as a massive Batman fan, this movie was a home run all around. The only thing I could see a very careful parent being unhappy with would be the use of the word “sucks.” Other than that, I didn’t catch anything to cause concern.
Batman fans know that he has deep-seeded emotional brokenness tracing back to the murder of his parents when he was a small child, and his inability to prevent it. This movie, in a very cute and funny way, breaks open Batman’s reclusivity and champions the joys of being part of a family. LEGO Batman, voiced by Will Arnett, is everything you want in an exaggerated expression of his negative qualities that make Batman such a complex and interesting character, and makes them funny enough to approach these flaws common in most people on a much smaller scale.
Because of his fear of loss and grief, Batman makes himself completely self-sufficient (he thinks), shunning all semblance of cooperation or team-work. Even The Joker is put off by his lack of dedication to their relationship; he wants to be Batman’s worst enemy, but Batman won’t commit to it. Joker, in an extremely co-dependent move, tries to make Batman miss him by surrendering himself so he can be sent to Arkham, and then to the Phantom Zone. While he’s there, Joker lets all of the villains sent to the Phantom Zone (which are made up of baddies from many LEGO sets, including Sauron, Voldemort, skeletons, dinosaurs, King Kong and Daleks) out on Gotham. Batman, doing his best to refuse any help, pushes away a family that is forming around him.
He has Alfred, of course, but he also accidentally adopted Dick Grayson and befriended (partly out of need, and partly out of an attraction on his part) Barbara Gordon who has just been named Commissioner of Gotham. Batman struggles between genuinely enjoying their company and his feelings of love toward them, and the fear of them being hurt or killed which would force him to feel more keenly the loss associated with his parents.
Ultimately, Batman realizes that if he doesn’t want to be a villain, and if he wants to succeed as a hero and a human being, he’s going to need to let love into his life. He does, and finds fulfillment and joy that he didn’t think was possible. He also begins to think about others instead of only himself.
There are fun references to all generations of Batman’s past, and other jokes that the kids might miss. It’s a fun movie, I think, for kids of all ages.
Some Themes for Discussion
- Batman was avoiding having any relationships because he was afraid that he would lose them like he lost his parents. Did not making any friends, or developing a family of his own make his sadness about his parents get any better or go away?
- Alfred wanted Batman to accept Robin and be a father to him as Alfred was to Batman. Why do you think Alfred thought that was important for Batman? What did he hope it would accomplish? What did it accomplish?
- Why did Batman send Alfred, Robin and Barbara away when the fighting got tough? Was it the right thing to do?
- When Batman was sent to the Phantom Zone which is just for villains, Phyllis was going to keep him there. Why did she think Batman was a villain?
- What lesson did Batman learn about needing help and friendship from others? How did this save Gotham?
- Are you ever afraid to begin a new friendship?
- Did you ever lose someone that you loved? How did that loss change your behavior? Did it make you more able to love others, or less?
- How did Batman’s having been an orphan raised by a very king Alfred make Batman a good father-figure for Robin?
- Why is it important to have family and friends?
- What do you love most about belonging to your family?
- Do you ever try to do too much on your own? How does it end up?
- How does belonging to family and friends help you to be more aware of other people’s feelings and needs?