I am convinced that we keep doing the same things over and over again not because we don’t learn any lessons from doing so, but because to do anything else would take too much effort.
Like the past two years I’m spending my spring break in the same room in the same building, and to be honest? I don’t mind it. For the first time in a while, I did some major line-by-line editing–though it was contributor biographies for the journal, and I’m for the most part divorced from the actual content. I am content with this. I’m behind on the amount of poems that I want to produce for this month, which I am not necessarily content with, but I’ll make up with it. Somehow, I’ve been keeping up in other ways. I’ve found out that I’m probably going to write about zombies (again) because that’s 1. what I always do, and 2. there’s more of what I’m looking for in terms of academic research on zombies than there is about what I’d be looking for about vampires. (Ray Bradbury isn’t totally out of the question, but I’m moving further away and might come back somewhere else.) These are just things that consistently are true for me.
“How does this relate to ‘The Lego Batman Move’? This all seems like you’re just talking about yourself.” Because I am, but because “The Lego Batman Move” (which I did actually see the Friday it came out, but have been waiting to talk about for a while) is an instance where people don’t do what they typically do (for the most part), and because that chance at doing something different has been so insanely successful that I almost want to replicate it in my own personal life, not just how I engage with comic book movies.
Recent DC movies in general and Batman movies in particular have a bad habit of being too gritty for their own good, afraid of, I think, the camp in earlier Batman movies. It’s a shame. There are a lot of genuinely colorful characters in the entire Batman lineup (rogues and Batfam alike) that get drowned out in producer and director desire to portray Bruce Wayne as a loner who has no family apart from his butler. This pattern also manages to ignore a point vital to Batman comics, recent or otherwise (wah wah wah the comics aren’t the movies and you can’t compare the characters–except, I can, and I will, because shouldn’t they be at least a little recognizable when they’re translated to the big screen?): he really doesn’t work alone, and hasn’t since Dick Grayson was introduced in 1940.
“The Lego Batman Movie” is the only movie in a while that has gotten that fact in a while–not only that, they make fun of the Batman cinematic trend of portraying him as a man who works alone (there’s a really great scene that does this explicitly). This isn’t to say they don’t also poke fun at other points in Batman history (Adam West’s Batman makes an appearance), but the here’s the thing: audiences are, I think, bored with this narrative that Batman must be dark and must be super serious. Yes, Batman and Superman work together by the end of “BvS,” but there’s still the issue of tone and the actual color palette of the film. Something in the formula that DC has created for their movies is missing.
There are plenty of people who have already written about “The Lego Batman Movie,” so I don’t want to spend a lot of time saying what’s already been said by other people and in better ways, but it’s refreshing to be able to genuinely laugh and not be bored by a DC superhero movie. I’m so tired of not caring about the characters that, really, I want to care about desperately, but bad writing and boring directing have made unbearable. “The Lego Batman Movie” is fun–the entire audience laughed from the very first line–and it’s colorful and didn’t make me feel like my brain was going to melt out of my ears because of how awful it was. Go see it! Take small kids to see it–it’s okay for superheroes to be accessible to the people who arguably need them most!
And maybe the most important thing we have to do sometimes is to try doing something new.