We got our first great look at Chris McKay‘s upcoming film The LEGO Batman Movie in the new trailer released just a few days ago, and now the director himself is revealing all sorts of things about the picture. This animated iteration follows Batman (Will Arnett) as he tries to stop the Joker (Zach Galifianakis) with the help of his ward-in-training Robin (Michael Cera), Rosario Dawson as Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, and Ralph Fiennes as Alfred Pennyworth.
In an interview with Empire, McKay–who’s still hard at work on the film ahead of its February 10, 2017 opening–talked about the film’s heroes and villains, as well as the exceptional voice cast who brought the characters to life. Batfans around the world will also be happy to know that The LEGO Batman Movie is packed chock-full of Easter eggs from the storied DC Comics character’s history.
See what McKay had to say about the film’s cast of characters, visual design, and more below:
McKay sees Batman as, “maybe the definitive comic version. We set out to make a movie that’s an About A Boy, a Jerry Maguire-type movie about a guy whose ego and self-involvement have kept him away from people. He also has a deep hurt. There’s a reason why people in these movies are cold and remote egomaniacs – there’s a wound somewhere inside. So we get to play with another point of view on another kind of Batman movie.”
Reprising his role as Batman in The LEGO Movie is Will Arnett, who in McKay’s words, “is amazing. He’s practically the perfect actor. He’s everything you’d want: he’s funny, he’s charming, he’s super-sweet, super-sincere and wickedly fast.”
It’s also been a while since we’ve seen Robin alongside Batman on the big screen. here’s what McKay had to say about the duo’s dynamic and what Cera brought to the role:
“Michael Cera is just a wonderful, innocent [person] and one of the funniest people in the world. And he’s super-game to play all the time whenever we record with him. His voice is so sincere and sweet and innocent, he brings so much joy to this indefatigable character of Robin. Kids like to dress up: there are kids who love wearing capes and things like that, and Robin is a free-spirited guy. He’s a gymnast, he loves to dance and run around. He’s so happy, you can’t not love someone who exhibits joy as much as him. [His suit was originally] ‘R for Reggae’. Batman’s had so many different adventures throughout the history, and this might be the forgotten chapter. Maybe someone will discover this story one day, but, yes, apparently was Batman was in Jamaica and he had a special suit for when he was down there battling some sort of criminal on the island.”
Batman and Robin have more help on their side in this adventure, starting with Batgirl, a.k.a. Barbara Gordon. Here’s what McKay sees as the character’s strengths, as embodied by Rosario Dawson:
“Rosario Dawson plays Barbara Gordon and she’s the only person in this movie who’s not a cartoon character. She looks at Gotham City and says: ‘Wait a minute, for 78 years Gotham City has not improved? It’s been the most crime-ridden city in history, and even with this night-stalking vigilante it’s not once improved?’ Rosario brings a seriousness and a sarcastic and critical point of view. The movie is really a critique of Batman and she’s really the focus of that.”
Alfred gets in on the action in this movie as well. McKay shared a fantastic behind-the-scenes story regarding Ralph Fiennes, who plays this version of the famous butler:
“In our movie, we’re not doing gunshots, we’ve got the actors doing ‘Pew! Pew!’ sounds, like kids playing. At one moment, Ralph is supposed to do ‘Pew! Pew!’s. We were ready to move on and he said, ‘Do you mind if I do another one?’ He was doing these great sound effects and we were all laughing. He said, ‘I’ve just finished Richard III.’ It’s the joy of acting.”