At its start, the second coming of the comic book movie revolution hit the pop culture ocean and expanded out like a Magic Grow capsule. In many ways, that sponge monster is still growing, and I don’t think that anyone at either Warner Bros. or Marvel Studios knows where the limit is. That’s why it makes sense that these companies have separately entered into a strange marriage between grandly ambitious schedules and the strict management of the brands that are at the center of this boom.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love to see some of the Elseworlds stories on-screen and I don’t love that we’re going to have more than one Barry Allen, but I get it.
I also get why, when The LEGO Movie was in pre-production, its creative team had to climb the mountain to ask then-Batman overseer Christopher Nolan if it was cool for them to turn Batman into a LEGO block dickhead.
We approached both Warners and Christopher Nolan. And myself, Chris Miller and Phil Lord, we pitched a different kind of Batman. We said, “You guys have your live-action Batman, we have what we called the LEGO Batman. A Batman that’s very self-aware. That is, you know, a bit of a jerk at times.” As soon as they understood there are different universes, that worked out OK. But that was a big challenge going to all the different rights holders, saying, “This is how we’re going to take your character and LEGO-ize it.”
While Nolan and Warner Bros. did give their blessing, it’s fun to wonder what would have happened if they had said no. Obviously, The LEGO Movie would have been a bit different and the stand-alone LEGO Batman movie (which Lin said is currently in “deep production” with Will Arnett back in the fold) wouldn’t be happening.
In that the LEGO version of the character (and the rest of the LEGO DC Universe) caters to the 12-and-under segment of the population that isn’t really the target audience for the more adult live-action Batman stories, though, it would be hard to argue that LEGO Batman — unsavory character quirks and all — did anything but help the overall DCU. Which makes that Nolan “yes” a Godsend, and that meeting a prime example of all the key moments that occur behind-the-scenes when these projects are being assembled. Moments that require executives to strike a delicate balance while managing these brands.