Written by Tracey Miller-Zarneke with foreword and commentary by director Chris McKay and his production team, The LEGO Batman Movie: The Making of the Movie was released on February 10th to coincide with the film’s theatrical release. I am convinced this was to avoid the tremendous amount of spoilers and easter eggs revealed in the 200-page hardback. Indeed, the book is amazing in that sense, but it’s 50-pages too long. As an aside, here are the easter eggs we found in the movie.
The foreword from Chris McKay and producers Dan Lin, Phil Lord and Chris Miller are perhaps the most revealing about what it takes to combine two larger-than-life brands in DC’s Batman and the iconic LEGO brick system. It all starts with an emotional question, and with Batman recently turning 75 years old, what do you explore that hasn’t already been done before? And while LEGO provides an exciting medium to play in, the film pitch had to be good. The team’s success on The LEGO Movie and voice-actor Will Arnett’s tremendous work as the caped crusader certainly made that an easier hurdle to overcome.
The next 12-pages are the most rewarding as they outline the 22-step process McKay’s team completed to create the animated LEGO movie. If there’s one takeaway, its that collaboration is paramount. We hear that word thrown around frequently, but in the case of The LEGO Batman Movie, it is truly teamwork on a global level. Concept and story are developed in California, while character and environment modeling takes place at LEGO headquarters in Denmark. Animal Logic ties it all together in Australia. Every single detail is meticulously evaluated and fine-tuned across all three teams utilizing video conferencing and specialized workspace software designed to allow for collaborative manipulation. Sound and music production, as well as lighting and editing steps finalize the film before it hits theaters and LEGO begins selling real-world brick sets.
The opening chapter is followed by 55-pages of “Locations”. Every set built for the film is covered; including, I believe, a few sets that either didn’t make into the final cut of the movie, or were featured for a very short period of time, like the Gotham City Police Department and the Gotham Orphanage. Wayne Manor and the Batcave receive their just desserts in these beautifully illustrated pages however, the finer details get lost in the adorable commentary. The focus is on readers age 10 and up, so technical details are sometimes scarce.
The “Characters” chapter consists of 83 glorious pages of minifigs. The LEGO Batman Movie is chock full of villains, superheroes and supporting cast, and DK didn’t skip a beat including them here. The biggest takeaway is the amount of conceptualizing and (here’s that word again) collaboration needed to design a minifigure. I was amazed by the evolution of design and the blending of LEGO elements with comic book history. The chapter is entirely too long, but the content is worthy of spending time with your children to explore the minifigs backgrounds and motivations.
The “Vehicles” section suffers from the same stretched content woes of previous chapters but are nonetheless, some of the more drool-worthy images for brick builders.
Part of what made The LEGO Batman Movie so successful for this moviegoer was the amount of jokes and references to old Batman comics and movies that were seamlessly crammed into the 104 minute animated feature. From the shark repellant gag to the age-old bromance between Batman and Joker, every nook and cranny was filled with perfectly-timed comedy. I was hoping that same philosophy would spill over into DK Publishing’s latest “behind-the-scenes/making-of” hardback, and while it is detailed, the book feels stretched for length and it didn’t quite hold my attention as well as many other DK offerings.
The LEGO Batman Movie: The Making of the Movie is available now at local bookstores and online at DK.com