“The LEGO Batman Movie” is not just a hero at the box office, it also received rave review for the way it understands the Caped Crusader better than any other film.
The kudos are well-earned: “LEGO Batman” plays up the whimsy of DC’s Silver Age Batman while not taking Bruce Wayne’s trauma for granted. Like the “Batman ’66” comic, the film doesn’t get dragged down by the character’s grim-dark tendencies, instead reveling in Shark Repellant and obscure villains like the Condiment King. It’s incredible fun, and if you haven’t seen it, go now. It may be the best Batman movie yet.
But why should Batman — and, by extension, the DC Universe — get all the fun? LEGO also has an inventive line of Marvel Super Hero building sets, video games, and even a couple of TV specials. The Marvel Universe needs its own LEGO movie, too, and there’s one superhero perfectly positioned to headline it: Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man.
Spider-Man is practically perfect for the LEGO treatment: He has Batman’s emotional core, but leavened with humor; he has some seriously fun (and ridiculous) villains; and he has one of the best supporting casts in comics, including an entire family of other spider-themed heroes (and clones).
Part of what makes “The LEGO Batman Movie” work so well is that it takes seriously Batman’s lasting trauma from his parents’ deaths and build its plot around Bruce Wayne learning to move on and build a new metaphorical family. As a fellow orphan, Peter has similar traumatic experiences driving him. Where Bruce was inspired by witnessing the murder of his parents, Peter is driven by his sense of responsibility for the death of his Uncle Ben.
But instead of wallowing in Batman’s “Darkness! No parents!” view of life that prevents him from bonding with others, Spidey copes with his loss (and keeps his villains on their toes) with humor. His jokes aren’t always exactly funny — Peter can lean heavily into dated Borscht Belt humor — but he’s almost always fun. And, even when the wall-crawler isn’t being funny himself, his patented Parker Luck is inevitably there to keep things interesting. I can’t think of a hero who has more potential to be fun when translated into LEGO form than Spider-Man. The Parker Luck alone could be manifested in so many incredibly inventive ways.
Spider-Man’s rogues gallery also lends itself well to the LEGO treatment. Spider-Man has faced off against a number of villains, from big names like the Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus and the Lizard to the totally ridiculous, like the White Rabbit and the Gibbon, with so many in between. They even have a history of teaming up against him, most famously in the various iterations of the Sinister Six (alhough a Sinister Sixty-Six might be more appropriate for a LEGO Spider-Man movie.)
What I most want to see, though, are the villains that really lend themselves to brick-based action. Sandman, Venom and Hydro-Man practically beg to come to life in LEGO form, and all three offer at least as much potential for creativity as Clayface in “The LEGO Batman Movie.” But the villain I most want to see is perpetual D-lister Big Wheel, whose pimped-out “big wheel” vehicle would be incredible fun to see in the movie, as well as build at home.
Of course, Spider-Man’s cast isn’t limited to villains: He also has one of the strongest supporting casts in comics. Whether focusing on Peter’s friends from school — including Mary Jane Watson, Harry Osborn, Flash Thompson, Gwen Stacy and Liz Allen — or his coworkers at the Daily Bugle — J. Jonah Jameson, Robbie Robertson, Betty Brant, Ben Urich, Ned Leeds, etc. — Peter is surrounded by characters who feel true to life. I’m practically drooling over the thought of a minifigure J. Jonah Jameson demanding tiny LEGO photos of Spider-Man (ideally with the voice of J.K. Simmons).
Peter’s pals can offer only so much help against a horde of super-villains, however, so he’ll probably need to call in some of the Spider-Family, including Jessica Drew (Spider-Woman), Miles Morales (also Spider-Man), Cindy Moon (Silk), Miguel O’Hara (Spider-Man 2099) and Anya Corazon (Spider-Girl). And, if things get really desperate — and, let’s face it, they will — Spider-Man can always fall back on his last resort and send in the clones. So. Many. Clones. Just imagine how much crazy fun a horde of LEGO Spider-Clones could be …
In addition to being great fodder for story, all these heroes and villains are also excellent inspiration for the inevitable tie-in LEGO sets. A few highlights I’m already imagining: a brick-built Venom complete with huge nasty teeth, Aunt May’s Forrest Hill’s home, Oscorp Tower, the Daily Bugle and, of course, that Big Wheel set.
There’s just one problem: No matter how amazing a LEGO Spider-Man movie would be or how incredibly lucrative it would be, it’s unlikely to ever happen for a couple of reasons. First, the mixed-up nature of Marvel’s movie rights means that Warner Bros. — the studio behind the LEGO movies — would potentially have to negotiate with both Marvel/Disney and Sony. With Sony making its own animated Spider-Man movie, the studio might balk at Warner Bros. also releasing one, even as part of the LEGO franchise. Plus, the studio politics between Disney and Warner Bros. will likely prevent this from ever happening. Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who together directed “The LEGO Movie,” have stated that Marvel and “Star Wars” characters will not appear in the sequel in part because Marvel doesn’t “need LEGO to make their movies successful.”
That won’t stop me from dreaming, though.
“The LEGO Batman Movie” is in theaters now.
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