Warner Bros. is currently in production or development on at least four Lego Movie spinoffs and sequels. The first of those in line for release, The Lego Batman Movie, inspired by Batman’s cameo in Lego Movie, launched its teaser trailer this morning:
Will Arnett voices the Dark Knight, with Michael Cera as Robin, Rosario Dawson as Batgirl, Zach Galifianakis as The Joker, and Mariah Carey as Gotham’s mayor.
The Lego Movie animation director Chris McKay will make his feature directorial debut on Batman, though he’s no directing novice, having directed multiple seasons of stop motion TV shows like Robot Chicken and Moral Orel. McKay explained the film’s setup, written by Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter), to USA Today: “Batman is an island onto himself, the only thing he doesn’t have is relationships. We’re making About a Boy as directed by Michael Mann.”
Watching the teaser, it’s fascinating to observe the lengths that the makers of Lego Batman have gone to in order to recreate the imperfections of stop motion animation — even though the film was crafted entirely in CGI at Animal Logic. The shifting microwave control panel as Batman punches in digits might be the most blatant throwback to old-school stop motion, though everything from the scratched-up textures on Batman’s shiny surface to the clunky motion are designed to evoke the appearance of physical objects in real space.
Ironically, while Animal Logic has to add imperfections into its CGI process to recreate a traditional look, another studio, Laika, has been criticized for making their stop motion features, like The Boxtrolls, appear so slick and perfect that they’ve begun to resemble computer-generated imagery. Technology, if anything, has added a new layer of artifice to animation filmmaking, successfully misdirecting viewers about the production techniques used to create animation.