We went to see the Lego Batman movie last weekend. This installment of Batman is a comedy geared toward kids. There are tons of jokes in Lego Batman, some legitimately laugh-out-loud funny ones, too. But the jokes get stale once you see the emasculating beat down Batman gets from all sides. In Lego Batman, the left tries subtly and not-so-subtly to normalize their culture beliefs. The trailer I had seen previously featured a female character in a Batgirl costume so I was expecting a typical man-hating, Girl Power theme to this movie. I was wrong. This wasn’t a Girl Power movie at all. It was simply a ruthless take down and deconstruction of our classic hetero male hero.
This wasn’t your anti-hero movie, though. In an anti-hero movie the male lead who would normally play strong, tough, rugged, together and smart, is hilariously portrayed instead as clumsy, silly, cute, bashful and endearing. For example, Jack Black is an anti-hero in the movie School of Rock. An anti-hero still gets the job done, he just looks different doing it. This wasn’t the case with Lego Batman.
This installment of Batman aims right at the heart of the Batman played by Christian Bale in the Dark Knight series. The brooding and serious Batman epitomized by Bale is ridiculed and mocked endlessly in Lego Batman as an egomaniac, selfish, immature, pathetic, lonely and no fun to be around. His constant refrain is “I work alone,” and one of the main themes of the movie is showing him how wrong that thinking is. A sad scene shows him going to Superman’s Fortress of Solitude, only to find out he wasn’t invited to a Justice League party and they all can’t stand him because he’s pushed them away because he works alone. Batman is wrong. Everyone else is right.
In act 1, Batman saves the city from one of the Joker’s attempts to blow it up. After that, Batman does a victory lap around the city, arrogantly congratulating himself the whole time, and also stops by an orphanage where he almost runs over Dick Grayson, a lonely orphan who wants desperately to be adopted. While Batman is driving home the radio news broadcast says that Batman is probably going home to have a big party with tons of friends and women. Of course you can see it coming a mile away: Batman goes home and is completely alone. There’s even a scene of him warming up dinner in the microwave.
Batman lives on a a private island symbolically and literally cut off from other people. He plays with all his big expensive toys alone, and watches corny movies and points and laughs at the mushy parts. Look at what a pathetic loser he is! As the night after he saves the city goes on, he looks at a family photo of him as a child with his two parents in the background.
Alfred the butler catches him looking at the photo and says that he’s afraid to let people in. Alfred says that Batman needs to be part of a family. He needs to. The wording here is very careful: part of a family. The implied rest of the sentence is…whatever that means to you. Alfred didn’t stress getting married to or dating a woman. He said “part of a family.”
Batman is aghast and horrified that Alfred would say that, and denies it until he literally throws a tantrum on the floor. Batman is very immature. Alfred is reinforced as Batman’s surrogate father here. Not a female support character in sight, past or present. No mother, no wife/girlfriend. None needed.
Meanwhile, far off in his lair the Joker discusses with his crew that he’s upset with Batman. The Joker is angry that Batman won’t admit that he, the Joker, is Batman’s greatest enemy. Batman had said earlier that the Joker means nothing to him, and that broke the Joker’s heart. The Joker said Batman “needs him” and that they have “a relationship.” Batman had earlier said that he doesn’t have “A bad guy, he’s fighting a few different people right now. I like to fight around.” The language is funny because it’s play on dating. The Joker is acting like woman who thought their relationship was something bigger than what it was. But these are two men who are actually fighting each other, so the joke for me falls flat. Why would Batman want to admit that? Why should he have to? He told the Joker the truth and the Joker didn’t accept it. That’s not Batman’s problem.
Later we’re introduced to the female character Barbara Gordon, the new police commissioner, at a party. There’s a silly joke that Bruce Wayne/Batman is instantly enthralled by her. The song “I just died in your arms tonight” plays, which gets a lot of laughs. But the joke itself serves only as a device for Batman to be distracted while the young orphan he almost ran over previously, Dick Grayson, talks to him. During this conversation Batman unwittingly agrees to adopt Dick Grayson.
During the party Barbara says that she wants the police to work with Batman and that we don’t need “unsupervised adults” running around doing vigilante justice. Her basis for that is that crime is still bad and the bad guys haven’t been caught and put in jail. Not anything about how much the police force didn’t do a good job, but Batman. She emasculated him and invalidated everything he’d ever done for the city. Neither she, or the mob of party guests, seemed to remember that Batman had just saved the city from being completely blown up the day before. She said “It takes a village” to keep the city safe.
So at the end of act 1, we have Batman who’s humiliated by the new commissioner, a whiny bad guy who thinks he’s owed some kind of relationship with Batman despite trying to kill him constantly, a surrogate father who said his life’s work is meaningless, and an ungrateful city that turns its back on him…all after sacrificing everything to keep the city safe.
All these people tell him he’s selfish, but he’s the least selfish person out there. He’s the one who made all the sacrifices. Not them. The audience laughs at his loneliness and see it as a failure – not that he was protecting himself and others from his childhood trauma. Not that he didn’t have time to pursue a family by being a billionaire by day and vigilante by night. These are the themes and values from the Dark Knight series, all debunked and mocked by Lego Batman.
In acts 2 and 3 we get to the meat of the story, and what I believe is the main point: Enemies are our friends, too.
Batman needs help to save the city from the Joker’s attack. The phrase “it takes a village” is repeated. When Batman continually wants to work alone, Alfred, Barbara and Dick tell him no, that he needs them to defeat the Joker. And that’s not even good enough. Not only does he have to work with them, but he also has to work with the other bad guys in the jail. Batman is now fighting on the same side as Bane, the Riddler and more, in order to defeat the Joker.
During the big battle with the Joker, Batman still wants to work alone. He tries to protect Alfred, Dick and Barbara by sending them away but they keep coming back, again saying “You need us!” “We need to work together!” At the very end, the only way to save the city was for Batman to admit to the Joker that he is his greatest enemy. He had to give in to that, too. So the enemy is his friend, and his friends are his family. That sat very uncomfortably with me, the forcefulness of it. None of it was what Batman chose. It was shoved down his throat – you must do this to be happy! You must do this to save the city! And he was kicking and screaming the whole time but had to accept it, or else. There were no black and white lines between the enemies and his friends and his family. It seemed like they were trying to get across that we as a society need to accept our enemies as friends too, for the greater good. See, the Joker really wasn’t that bad…he just wanted validation from Batman. After he got it, he stopped trying to bomb the city. All the other bad guys aren’t that bad, deep down they don’t want to commit crimes either, because when push comes to shove they’ll be on the side of good.
When Batman trains his adopted son Dick, he becomes Robin. After misleading him about Bruce Wayne/Batman, Robin exclaims “It’s like I have two dads!” Which he was so happy and excited about. The subtlety of the previous conversations about “part of a family” and being in a relationship with the Joker went right out the window with that. The “two dad” phrase is repeated again later with great joy. To Robin, there’s nothing weird about it. There’s nothing lacking as far as a mother.
In the denouement the movie is wrapped up with a new family photo. Batman emphasizes that Barbara is his platonic friend. Just friends, and nothing more. They go to Batman’s house and eat dinner together. The new family photo is hung next to his old one. The new family photo contains Robin in the foreground with Alfred, Batman and Barbara behind him. The “family” is complete.
What was Barbara’s significance? I’m not sure. She wasn’t the mother figure, she wasn’t the girlfriend/wife figure and she wasn’t the daughter figure. To me, she was the token female. Nothing more, nothing less. She was shoehorned in to make the movie not so male-dominated. Without her, the family photo would have been Robin, Batman and Alfred. They didn’t think they could go that far so they tossed in the token female, but didn’t let her shoulder any of the emotional burden or play any significant role in their lives. She was just…there.
The worst part of it for me was that it ended with Batman having to give up all of his previously held beliefs and being practically destroyed. He had to let people in, had to give in to the Joker, had to be humiliated by everyone and had to eat humble pie – for what? Even though he had this new family, what he had to go through almost broke him, and he didn’t even chose it himself. He had no agency at all. We didn’t see if it was really worth it for him, either. Some people like being alone, and he wasn’t hurting anyone so why force all this on him? It was just to decimate a historically beloved strong super hero by saying he’s wrong, he’s weak, immature and narrow-minded according to them.
You may not have seen what I saw in this movie, and that’s the beauty of movies. We’re all viewing through our own lens of history and biases. You may also ask why I still take my kid to see movies. Why not just boycott? Well, there are many good reasons to boycott. But there are many good reasons for me to keep going, too. My daughter has fun and I’m always there to monitor. One day I’d like to have conversations with her about how the left uses propaganda. I want her to be educated about the world and ask questions herself.
We as conservatives can try to change things, and we can make our own entertainment. We’ve already made our own news outlets. We only have one life and we can use our talents to change it for the better. Everyone has a different talent. I would hate to see a great artist, or screenwriter or actor or singer not be involved their industry because of the left. This is our entertainment too, and we don’t have to stand by and let it be taken over and destroyed by leftists. We can’t let them destroy our beloved heroes like Batman. Sometimes we need to see it in order to call them out on it so things will change.