While the eye-rolling cheese of Batman & Robin certainly has its defenders, movie adaptations of the Caped Crusader have largely adhered to one rule: be serious. Since that 1997 movie ended the four-movie run that began with the relatively dark and gritty Batman from 1989, every subsequent big-screen take on the Dark Knight has been increasingly grumpy and grounded. The Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy starring Christian Bale gave thorough explanations for every part of the mythos, Zack Snyder’s Batman played by Ben Affleck showed us what Batman would be like in a dystopia filled with adherents of Ayn Rand’s Wikipedia page, and Robert Pattinson’s Batman writes dark journal entries about the filth infecting Gotham City a la Frank Miller.
There is, of course, one shining exception to the rule. Lego Batman, voiced with pitch-perfect pompousness by Will Arnett, made his debut as a supporting character in The Lego Movie and The Lego Movie 2, and then starred in The Lego Batman Movie. Those three films gave us Batman as a self-absorbed man-child, a gym bro draped in black. But they also told a story that made sense of the character’s varied and often-contradictory portrayals across all media, as Batman searched for a new family throughout the three-film saga.
While The Lego Batman Movie remains a favorite among Bat-fans, a sequel was pulled from production after Universal Pictures signed an exclusive five-year film partnership with Lego in 2020. But while talking about Renfield, a movie featuring one of Universal’s very own monsters, director Chris McKay, who also helmed The Lego Batman Movie, revealed the details of his planned sequel.
“We had a really fun script with Dan Harmon and Michael Waldron,” McKay told Uproxx. “The sequel would’ve been a quasi Superfriends movie and the structure was going to be a sort of Godfather II kind of thing with Batman and the Justice League facing a modern-day problem, Lex Luthor and OMAC, while at the same time flashing back to the reasons why Batman and the Justice League – and in particular, Superman – have bad blood,” he explained.
From that brief description, it’s easy to see that The Lego Batman Movie would have been very much in line with its predecessor. The first movie had some shockingly deep cuts, including the return of Billy Dee Williams as Harvey Dent/Two-Face (the character who the actor was slated to play in a third Tim Burton-directed movie) and references to every single Batman movie ever. The sequel planned to bring in the lesser-known Jack Kirby creation OMAC (One Man Army Corps), while continuing to feature a petulant Batman: “It was going to explore Superman and Batman’s relationship in a very different way than you’ve ever seen it portrayed, including Superman’s alienation from humanity and how hard it is to truly be friends, real friends, for years.”
Sadly, we know that this movie won’t happen, even as DC Studios plans its own new versions of Batman and Superman. But at least we’ll always have the lessons taught by The Lego Batman Movie, that friends are family.