Will Arnett's brooding, overconfident Batman was one of the best parts of The LEGO Movie when it debuted in 2014, so it was no surprise three years later when the character was able to lead his own spinoff film that focused more on the DC Comics-driven corners of the LEGO cinematic world. It was also no surprise when that spinoff proved to be a hit, cultivating fertile ground for a potential franchise rooted in LEGO Batman's cheerfully dark world.
Sadly, while a sequel was coming together at one point, it's unlikely now that we'll ever get to see.
In an interview with Collider promoting his new action film The Tomorrow War, LEGO Batman Movie director Chris McKay noted that there was at one point a plan to make a LEGO Batman sequel over at Warner Bros., but since LEGO has since moved its movie license for future film projects over to Universal Pictures, it's unlikely that will ever happen now.
"I am so sorry to say that but I don't think they'll be making a LEGO Batman 2," McKay said.
So, how far did The LEGO Batman Movie 2 get in the development process before it was scrapped? Far enough, apparently, that Community creator Dan Harmon and Loki showrunner Michael Waldron had worked together on a script and even turned in a rather ambitious first draft.
"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 said.
After referencing The Godfather Part II and its part past/part present story structure, McKay brought up another unlikely reference point for the scrapped sequel: Paul Thomas Anderson's Boogie Nights, a film about a porn star in the 1970s that nevertheless shared some common thematic DNA with the LEGO Batman sequel's core ideas.
"It was about how hard it is to change. To commit to change. To stay on the new road you’ve carved for yourself," McKay explained. "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."
One of the hallmarks of Arnett's LEGO Batman character was the way in which the character's heroic persona was deeply rooted in a sense of self-mythologizing. The darkness and brooding was all part of the heroic legend he built for himself, and with that came a sense of overconfidence and even arrogance that made him a bit of a pariah among his colleagues and friends, something the character came to realize over the course of the first movie.
It sounds like the film would've really gone deep on what Batman planned to do with that kind of realization, as he worked to honestly change himself amid a Justice League who was naturally suspicious of his motives. Of courts, it was also going to be a superhero movie, and McKay teased that the script featured both Lex Luthor and the Jack Kirby creation OMAC (One Man Army Corps) as antagonists.
Though we'll probably never see it, The LEGO Batman Movie 2 was clearly full of big ideas in its early story stages, and to help drive that point home, shortly after Collider dropped their interview with McKay, Waldron dropped his own tease for the film on Twitter in the form of the script's title page. And yes, it has a Boogie Nights reference.
For more on McKay's plans for LEGO Batman Movie 2, head over to Collider for the full interview segment.