Back in 2014, no one — not audiences, nor even studio heads — knew what on earth “The Lego Movie” would be. That might be one of the reasons it was what it was: a joke-filled, satirical delight. The same goes for “The Lego Batman Movie,” which lightly but forcefully lampoons the Caped Crusader, portraying him as a braggart and lunatic who gets depressed when the Joker and untold other supervillains finally wind up behind bars. What does Bruce Wayne do if he’s not beating up crooks?
Chris McKay served as an assistant director on “The Lego Movie.” With “Lego Batman,” he graduates to top director. We talk to the “Robot Chicken” alum about sending up an icon, bringing back the 1989 “Batman”’s Billy Dee Williams and even about one of the great directors of classic Westerns.
I really like that your Twitter handle, @buddboetticher, is named after Budd Boetticher, the brilliant, still under known director of Westerns, usually with Randolph Scott. I’m a huge fan of his.
Oh great! What’s your favorite movie?
“Seven Men from Now,” which, among other things, has one of the great Lee Marvin performances.
It’s funny, because Randolph Scott is Randolph Scott. He’s certainly of a time, has a certain acting style. But Lee Marvin is so crazy modern. He’s almost like Val Kilmer in “Tombstone” or Johnny Depp in the first “Pirates of the Caribbean” movie, where he’s a side character. It’s a crazy take on a stock character and it makes the movie come alive in a different way.
There’s a throwaway part where Marvin is just staring at this guy, and his mouth is open and he’s hunched over like a Neanderthal. Even that is a stunning and weird moment.
Yeah! I also love “Ride Lonesome.” “Seven Men from Now”’s my top, then it’s “Ride Lonesome,” then “The Tall T.”
I’m not sure how to connect Budd Boetticher Westerns to “The Lego Batman Movie,” except that Westerns loved anti-heroes, which is what Batman is here. It’s great that the movie points out that Batman is essentially a sociopath and it’s not great that he has no regulations, that he’s above the law.
The idea was that if you really step back and look at Gotham City, see that it’s been the most crime-ridden city for 78 years — which is when the comics started — if it had a Batman, don’t you think it’s time to look at another alternative? You’re entrusting the city to this night-stalking, crime-fighting billionaire who thinks that karate-chopping people in the middle of the night will fix it. There’s got to be another way.
There are fans who wish there was a real Batman, which I’d say is a terrible idea.
That would be your worst nightmare. You’re letting this person arbitrate who’s going to live and who’s going to die — judge, jury and executioner. It’s basically “Death Wish.” He’s Bernie Goetz, the guy who goes on the subway and shoots people he thinks are going to commit a crime.