The LEGO Batman Movie remains not only one of the best animated movies of the past few years, but one of the best Batman movies ever made. The film perfectly understood the assignment, as well as the character of Batman and what makes him special. Sadly, it seems we won’t be getting a sequel anytime soon, as director Chris McKay confirms LEGO Batman 2 is not happening due to a rights issue. To make matters worse, McKay exclusively gave us some details about the movie’s planned plot, and it sounds about as magical as you’d expect from such a talented screenwriting team as Dan Harmon and Loki head writer Michael Waldron.
You see, the first LEGO Batman Movie came about as a spin-off of The LEGO Movie, which was produced by Warner Bros., and therefore had access to all of WB‘s IP library. But in 2020, Universal snatched the rights to the entire LEGO franchise in an exclusive deal, meaning all LEGO-fied WB characters like Harry Potter or Batman are no longer available as part of Universal‘s LEGO franchise plans (but titles like Jurassic Park and Fast and Furious are).
During an exclusive interview with Collider’s Steve Weintraub for McKay‘s new sci-fi action film The Tomorrow War, McKay broke our collective hearts with the devastating news that Lego Batman will not become a trilogy.
“Because LEGO has left Warner Brothers and is now over at Universal, there probably won’t be a LEGO Batman sequel, unfortunately. I am so sorry to say that but I don’t think they’ll be making a LEGO Batman 2.”
Rubbing salt in the wound, McKay went further and explained what would have made LEGO Batman 2 special, and it starts with the sheer talent of the film’s writing team.
“Dan (Harmon) and (Michael) Waldron had done a first draft of the script that was really great. It was truly epic… both from an action standpoint and from a story standpoint. The structure was Godfather Part 2… a story about Batman’s relationship to the Justice League (and Superman) now as well as the formative moments of the Justice League (and Batman’s relationship with Superman) then.”
McKay also described the film as sort of “Boogie Nights-esque” and said it was “going to be really funny.” Sadly, as much as McKay says he’d like to resurrect the project in another way, Universal is in charge now.
Now, when you hear the name Dan Harmon, you may wonder how the hell he found the time to write a movie script in-between working on 70+ episodes of Rick and Morty, as well as creating a new animated comedy set in ancient Greece for Fox. Well, apparently it doesn’t take much to convince Harmon to add another project to his slate. McKay simply responded, “I’m pretty sure we approached Dan about it. I worked with Dan briefly on The Sarah Silverman Show and loved working with him and Rob Schrab.” See? even Harmon can’t say no to LEGO Batman 2.
So the film has kind of a Boogie Nights or Godfather Part II structure to it, but what was it going to be about? The first LEGO Batman Movie was all about family, and McKay explains that the sequel was going to evolve that theme.
“Friendship. And change. It was about how hard it is to change. To commit to change. To stay on the new road you’ve carved for yourself. Especially when maybe you weren’t such a good guy to your friends. Your old friends might not be able to see the new you. They might still live in the past. But as the movie (and Robin) finds out… the past might be more complicated than it seems.”
That certainly tracks with what we saw of Will Arnett‘s Bruce Wayne/Batman, who was a stupidly stubborn man unwilling to compromise or open up due to a deep fear of letting people get close only to lose them like he lost his parents. In the first film, we even saw him as a sort of Justice League reject, with Batman discovering that his co-workers and so-called friends held secret parties and meetings without him.
As successful as LEGO Batman was, McKay explains that the studio was kind of lukewarm about the idea of the film taking the character seriously, something the sequel would have remedied.
“The studio was leery of LEGO Batman being an actual Batman movie so I was constantly told to hold back. Audiences (and subsequent movies like Into the Spider-Verse) proved them wrong. I would have quadrupled down on making it as much of a real Justice League movie (with lots of jokes, cameos, intersecting storylines, references, etc… it would have been a VERY dense movie) as humanly possible.”
He’s not wrong. As great as the LEGO Batman Movie’s characterization of the Caped Crusader was, the film’s plot still felt more like a LEGO Movie spinoff than it did a proper Batman movie, at least in the way something like Into the Spider-Verse was a proper Spider-Man movie in addition to an animated movie starring Spider-Man. So the idea of a proper, big-budget Justice League animated film that’s also funny as hell sounds very cool.
The LEGO Batman Movie had a star-studded cast, including Ralph Fiennes, Jenny Slate, Mariah Carey, Jason Mantzoukas, Billy Dee Williams, and Jemaine Clement. Though McKay admits that they were “too early in the process” to have begun doing voice recordings, he does tease that many voice actors from the previous movie were slated to return. He also teased the villains of the movie and even a big plot development that would have had fans very excited.
“We had lots of great voice actors from The LEGO Movie and LEGO Batman. The villain was going to be Lex Luthor … and OMAC. There’s more of course (lots of Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Lois). There was also going to be a big crossover at one point in the movie that you can only do in a LEGO movie. I’m sure you can guess what it was. The thing that will probably never happen in a live-action movie.”
Now, that is a lot to unpack! Lex Luthor as a villain, especially for a Justice League movie, is a cool idea, but introducing OMAC is simply fantastic, no matter how you look at it. There are actually two OMACs in the DC Universe. The first, a character called OMAC (One-Man Army Corps), was created by Jack Kirby and essentially served as Captain America but set in the future. The other OMAC stands for Observational Metahuman Activity Construct and are cyborg sleeper agents controlled by a satellite Batman himself created to spy on metahumans and superheroes after he’d grown distrustful of the Justice League. If the film was going to be about Batman and the Justice League growing apart, this is a great way of exploring that subject in a way we haven’t seen in a film before.
Then there’s the big crossover tease. McKay didn’t offer more details, but his comment about it only working on a LEGO movie is certainly intriguing. The first LEGO Movie already did a live-action/animation hybrid sequence, so it could be that, and that film brought together characters from multiple franchises, so maybe they were hoping to bring in some LEGO Marvel characters as a cheeky crossover idea? Unfortunately, it seems unlikely we’ll see what McKay was teasing now that Universal holds the fate of future LEGO movies in their hands.
Update: In response to this article being posted, Waldron shared the incredible title page for the film on Twitter which further teases what could have been: