It was surprise to everyone when “The Lego Movie” (2014) was not only financially successful but also universally praised. With a movie that spoke to kids and adults alike, Warner Bros. knew they had something special. Anyone who saw the film early on and told their friends about it also tended to mention the hysterical new spin on Batman.
Actor Will Arnett had taken Batman’s brooding egotism to a whole new level, and people loved it. So Warner, not a studio to sit on its laurels, quickly announced “The Lego Batman Movie” would hit theaters before a proper sequel to “The Lego Movie.” Now, here we are two years later and they have delivered a movie that makes you wonder why good superhero comedies are not more of a thing. As always, we are more than happy to dig out the best easter eggs, so you don’t have to.
15. FORTRESS OF SOLITUDE
While we are about to get to the rest of the references to Batman shows, movies and comics, first we have some great moments that pay tribute to Richard Donner’s “Superman” series. When Batman is trying to come up with a plan to steal the Phantom Zone Projector, he realizes he is too big to break into the Atomic Cauldron that holds it. This is when he decides Dick may be useful after all and invites him on his first mission. When they arrive at the colossal Fortress of Solitude doorway, the theme from Richard Donner’s “Superman” (1978) plays momentarily.
They also encounter a hologram of Superman’s father, Jor-El, that is undeniably modelled on Marlon Brando’s portrayal of the character from “Superman.” And possibly best of all, veteran actor Terrence Stamp voices the ruthless General Zod. This genre heavyweight played the Kryptonian official in the 1980 sequel to “Superman.” In that movie, he manages to escape the Phantom Zone with his faithful lieutenants Ursa and Non.
14. DC/MARVEL WAR
Marvel and DC have long been the “Big Two” in the comic industry and they don’t hide their rivalry. While they have done a number of friendly crossovers over the decades, they have also liberally borrowed creators and ideas from each other. The competition between the two trickles down to fans, many of whom are willing to argue their favorite company’s merits on message boards and comment threads. So, for all the staunch DC fans, you should love that Batman’s password to get into the Batcave is: Iron Man sucks. How could Arnett’s self-centred Lego Batman not hate on the most popular playboy philanthropist billionaire superhero other than himself?
In terms of Lego history, Marvel had a theme and sets first with Spider-Man in 2002, but DC beat them to the Lego game market with their “Lego Batman: The Videogame” in 2008. It’s worth noting that Marvel is one of the only current Lego themes that did not make an appearance in “The Lego Movie.”
13. THE SCOOBY-DOO CONNECTION
Kate Micucci, who plays Clayface in “The Lego Batman Movie,” is a popular voice actor with all of today’s fan-favorite ‘toons on her resume, including “Adventure Time,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Steven Universe.” Now, it’s hard to say if this was part of the reason she was cast or if it was just an awesome coincidence, but she is also the voice behind Velma Dinkley in numerous “Scooby-Doo” animated movies, the latest cartoon “Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!” and every “Lego Scooby-Doo” feature to date. If it is not immediately obvious why that is cool, let us explain: Batman and the Scooby-Doo gang go way back.
In 1972, Batman and Robin first met the Mystery Inc. crew in two episodes of the animated series, “The New Scooby-Doo Movies.” That was only the beginning though, as the franchises met again in an episode of the highly underrated “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” titled “Bat-Mite Presents: Batman’s Strangest Cases.” Then, in 2014, Scoob got a new comic title, “Scooby-Doo Team-Up,” and Batman (or his Bat Family members) have appeared in half a dozen issues thus far.
12. FERRIS AIR
In a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it moment, there is a billboard ad for Ferris Air. Comic readers will recognize this as a reference to Carol Ferris and her family company, Ferris Aircraft, for which Hal Jordan was a test pilot. Also, Carol and Hal had an on-again/off-again romantic relationship in the comics, which led to Carol becoming the popular Star Sapphire villain-cum-hero.
This could just be a fun easter egg, however it may also suggest the development of a Lego Green Lantern spin-off. While GL might not have Batman’s name recognition, Hal has been voiced by Academy Award-nominee Jonah Hill in both “The Lego Movie” and “The Lego Batman Movie.” Plus, Hal’s hilarious relationship with Superman (voiced by Hill’s friend Channing Tatum) has been a highlight of both films. Sure, they are not a classic comics pairing like Green Lantern and Green Arrow or the Atom and Hawkman, but we think “The Lego Green Lantern & Superman Movie” would be awesome. Though they may want to shorten the title.
11. ALFRED’S EGGS
When Alfred appears behind Bruce while he is staring at a picture of his parents and he reflexively kicks him across the room, it recalls the physical comedy of Cato’s attacks on Inspector Clouseau in the “Pink Panther” films. If this seems like we’re reaching, then couple it with the fact that later in the film, he dons a modified version of the Bat suit with buttons up the side of the jacket and no cowl, but instead a domino mask and chauffeur’s cap, all very much resembling Kato’s get-up from the 1966 “Green Hornet” TV series. If you are unfamiliar with either property, the “Pink Panther” Cato (originally spelled Kato) was a send-up of Kato from “Green Hornet.”
On another note, the way Alfred gets right in on the action in the latter half of the film is reminiscent of his more active roles in Geoff Johns’ “Batman: Earth One Vol. 1” (2012) graphic novel, as well as the most recent Batman animated series “Beware the Batman.” They even reference his Royal Air Force background from the comics when he tells Batman he has the experience to man the rear gun of the Scuttler.
10. CLASSIC CINEMA
The “Pink Panther” and “Green Hornet” franchises aren’t the only cool movies to get tributes here. A more obscure reference comes in the scene when Batman and Robin are stealing the Phantom Zone Projector from Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. When Bats gets the Boy Wonder to build a makeshift skateboard, Batman says something along the lines of, “you’ve got to gleam the cube.” “Gleaming the Cube” is a late ’80s action film starring Christian Slater as a young skater investigating his brother’s death. The filmmakers actually hired a handful of pros like Stacy Peralta and Rodney Mullen to make the skate scenes authentic.
Two of the Dark Knight’s costumes from his vast collection of suits are also nods to motion pictures. There is the Raging Bat suit, complete with boxing gloves and trunks, which is an obvious tip of the hat to DeNiro’s pugilist classic “Raging Bull.” Then, there’s the Clawed Rains suit that Dick tries on, which honors accomplished actor Claude Rains whose credits include cinema essentials like “Casablanca” and “Lawrence of Arabia.”
9. SUICIDE SQUAD
When Barbara suggests that they team-up with the villains they had just recently locked away in Arkham Asylum, Batman says, “lead a bunch of villains to fight a bunch of villains?” We’re paraphrasing here, but regardless, it sounds like an allusion to the Suicide Squad. More specifically, it seems to be referencing Batman’s own version of the Suicide Squad that he recruited from Arkham in the “I Am Suicide” arc that started in “Batman” #9 (2016). This Squad-like team included Punch & Jewlee, the Ventriloquist, Catwoman and Bronze Tiger.
On the other hand, there is the much more narrow possibility that it’s a reference to the “Forever Evil” (2013) storyline, wherein Batman led a provisional Justice League made up of villains Lex Luthor, Bizarro, Catwoman, Sinestro, Captain Cold and Black Adam to stop the Crime Syndicate and the Secret Society of Super-Villains. While this team disbanded, Lex managed to weasel his way into the proper Justice League for a while.
Dick Grayson was Robin for a long time before DC finally decided he would develop into his own hero. In fact, it was 44 years before he stepped out of Bruce’s shadow and became…Nightwing. He had already fought crime solo and led his own team for years before assuming a new identity and costume, so his disco digs were really just an update of his look. The real big deal was the name change, as it somehow made it official that the position of Batman’s sidekick was open.
In this film, it is clear Robin has no plans of leaving the nest (sorry) anytime soon. However, they still manage to sneak in an awesome Nightwing moment. When Dick needs more than his skimpy Robin suit, he puts on an armor labeled Nightwing. It doesn’t look like the “Saturday Night Fever”-esque costume that was introduced in “Tales of the Teen Titans” #44 (1984), nor the cleaner, simplified version familiar to newer comic fans. However, the suit was the distinct shade of blue that is present on both costumes.
The city of Bludhaven is best known as the urban center Nightwing leaves Gotham to protect in the comics. In pre-New 52 continuity, it is this concert jungle that is just across the water from Gotham, not Metropolis, like in “Batman v. Superman.” It has also been mentioned on “Arrow” multiple times and is even where Deadshot was working out of when he was hired by China White to kill Malcolm Merlyn in the Season 1 episode, “Dead To Rights.”
The city gets two mentions in “The Lego Batman Movie.” The first is when they are talking about Barbara Gordon’s accomplishments and they state that she cleaned up Gotham’s sister city, Bludhaven. Then, when Batman traps Barbara, Robin and Alfred in the Scuttler towards the end of the film, he tells it to take them to a taco truck on the boarder between Gotham and Bludhaven. He instructs ‘Puter to get them chimichangas and Jarritos.
6. BATMAN ’66
The live-action “Batman” TV show from 1966 has had a huge resurgence in the last couple of years. There was the “Batman ’66” (2013-16) comic series and last year Warner released an animated movie titled “Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders,” which brought back Adam West and Burt Ward to reprise their roles as Batman and Robin respectively.
Well, “The Lego Batman Movie” does not pass up a single opportunity to tribute this beloved iteration. First off, there is the Shark Repellent, which is one of the crazier items Bats has ever pulled out of his utility belt. This aerosol deterrent was in the 1966 “Batman” movie and CBR actually has its own connection with this specific oddity. Senior writer Brian Cronin wrote a book titled “Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent” in 2012, which documents many such quirky moments in comics history. Then, at one one point, we get the classic spinning segue. Alfred also dons the Bat suit from the show… with the lines on the cowl and everything! Lastly, Batman tells Robin that they are going to hit the bad guys so hard words will appear in mid-air, and we get the show’s trademark onomatopoeic visuals.
5. JOKER’S FILM FAILS
At the very start of the film, the Joker hijacks a plane, which he plans to use in his scheme to take over Gotham. The first mini egg is that it’s a MacGuffin Air flight. Then, when the Joker asks the pilot why he’s not scared, the airman responds that he knows Batman will stop the Clown Prince. He goes on to list examples and brings up “that time with the two boats” and “the time with the parade and the Prince music.”
The first example references the ferry scene in “The Dark Knight” (2008), where Heath Ledger’s Joker pits the prisoner boat against the passenger boat. The second is a calling back to the bit in Tim Burton’s “Batman” (1989) where Jack Nicolson’s Joker is on the lead float of a parade, dancing to Prince’s “Trust” and merrily throwing out cash to Gothamites in the street. It’s just before he starts unleashing his Joker gas on the city.
4. ALL BAT EVERYTHING
There is no denying that it sounds like Wiz Khalifa tailor-made the song “Black & Yellow” for this movie when you see the trailer. Arnett’s take on Bats likes everything in black… or very, very dark grey, as he says in “The Lego Movie.” So, of course, his army of vehicles in the Batcave is strictly devoid of color (other than the occasional red pinstripe). They include the Tim Burton designed Batmobile, various other models of the Batmobile, the Bat-Sub, the Bat-Zeppelin, the Bat-Space Shuttle, the Bat-Kayak, what appears to be the Bat-Pirate Ship, and more.
These ridiculous transports continue a Batman film tradition that started in the 1966 “Batman” movie, which introduced the live-action Bat-Boat and Bat-Copter. In the flick, Batman had named nearly everything he used, including a Bat-Ladder and Bat-Spray. It seems “The Lego Batman Movie” filmmakers also wanted to add to this legacy as Bruce names the rope he uses to autopilot the Scuttler the “Bat-Rope.”
3. SUPER FRIENDS
It was kind of a given that DC would fill this movie with their biggest characters, so the Justice League showing up didn’t really surprise anyone. The fact that they brought superstars Cobie Smulders, Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum back to voice Wonder Woman, Green Lantern and Superman respectively was a nice touch… but still not surprising.
What will have old school fans excited is that when the door to the Fortress of Solitude opens and we see the Justice League having a party, it is the “Super Friends” (1973-85) TV show version of the JLA, and it includes the long-forgotten heroes Samurai, El Dorado, Apache Chief and Black Vulcan. We wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking, since the party takes place at the Fortress, that it is Superman’s dog Krypto behind the wheels of steel, but it is actually Wonder Dog. You can tell it is Marvin White’s mutt because of the green cape he wears.
2. PHANTOM ZONE PRISONERS
Many of the best cameos in this film are in the Phantom Zone. While we get some fun C-list superheroes in the Fortress of Solitude and all kinds of lesser-known Bat baddies in Jokerland, it’s in the Phantom Zone where we get our favorite villains from other properties. We get Harry Potter’s arch nemesis Voldemort, Sauron from “Lord of the Rings,” a bunch of Gremlins, the Wicked Witch and her Flying Monkeys from “The Wizard of Oz,” a fleet of Daleks from “Doctor Who” and even King Kong!
Now, this is where is gets interesting: there is also a Godzilla lookalike, but he is never referred to as such. The only noticeable difference is that the Phantom Zone’s giant lizard has four arms. This kaiju even has Godzilla’s blue nuclear breath. Not only that, but there are three secret agents that are clearly Agent Smith and co. from the Matrix. However, once again they aren’t named in the film. Licensing issues much?
1. BATMAN LOVE
There is a scene early on in the film where Alfred is trying to have a heart-to-heart with Bruce about his loneliness and solitude, and we get a montage of iconic scenes and movie posters from all of the live-action Batman movies since 1966, including: “Batman Begins,” “The Dark Knight,” “The Dark Knight Rises,” “Batman v. Superman,” Batman Forever,” “Batman and Robin,” “Batman Returns,” Batman” ’89 and “Batman” ’66.
Then, when Barbra Gordon is giving her speech after being introduced as the new police commissioner, she speaks on Batman’s past exploits and we get another splash of images showing love to more important Caped Crusader moments. This time, the comic books and cartoons get the spotlight with “Batman: The Animated series,” “The Dark Knight Returns,” “The Mask of the Phantasm,” the first appearance of Batman in “Detective Comics” #27 (1939), and even the old serials getting the Lego treatment.
What were some of your favorite moments from “The Lego Batman Movie?” Let us know in the comments!
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