Yet another movie to remind you of the social norms

Credit: Courtesy Aileene Han Credit: Courtesy Aileene Han

Every time I've walked into a movie theatre in the past three months, I've been reminded at least once that LEGO Batman would be coming out in mid-February, suspiciously near the holiday filled with love, public displays of affection, overpriced heart-shaped chocolate boxes, and, for some, the stinging sensation telling them that they are still single and that's not okay. Thankfully, the movie trailer did not once mention the fact that V-day is approaching. It seemed to be a perfectly innocent movie about a superhero learning to team up with ordinary people to fight bad guys, plus a few superhero jokes that only teenagers could truly appreciate. So I went, only expecting to be entertained.

I was, undoubtedly, entertained by the flashing colors and deafening sound coming from the impressive sound system of the IMAX theatre. I was slightly disappointed when I found that constructing different objects using LEGO blocks — a prominent theme in the first LEGO movie — was only used as a creative form of presenting the Batman story, but I should have seen it coming. After all, this is LEGO Batman, where "LEGO" is only the adjective, nothing more. There are only a few references to building weapons and automobiles scattered throughout the movie. This movie is basically a Batman movie stripped of all seriousness and smoothness, accompanied by Batman's brutally honest statements about his socially unacceptable true nature.

Just like any other superhero movie, Batman, again, saves the entire city of Gotham and everyone's a** five minutes into the movie by defusing Joker's bomb, which was intended to blow up the entire world. After singlehandedly defeating an entire army of villains, Batman returns to the Batcave in a swarm of praise and awe, with a news reporter's voice echoing, "It must be great to be Batman — I can only imagine he's going home now to party the night away, surrounded by friends and lady activewear models!"

The music slowed, and the lights dimmed. I was now watching Batman returning after one (short) day of victory to his home inhabited by two and half people: his butler Alfred, Batman himself, and his computer. The enormous, high-tech, lavish residence on an isolated island seemed to provide Batman with nothing more than boredom and loneliness. Just like any tired employer who returns to their empty apartment at the end of the day, Batman walks into his home, warms up food left in the fridge by Alfred, sits in front of his television, and starts watching a romantic comedy. This is the recurring theme throughout the entire movie. It starts with Batman being lonely in his cave, then extends to him staring sentimentally at his family photo, defensively answering Alfred's question about his greatest fear, and clumsily teaching his adopted teenager to behave.

We get it: Batman has emotions, and he is simply a vulnerable, normal human being under his shell.

But the movie went even further. After telling Joker how unimportant he is and consequently breaking his heart, Batman reveals his ultimate vulnerability. Without someone who he can passionately hate and chase after, he is bored and disoriented. Always working and claiming victories alone, Batman suddenly can no longer fight crimes without the presence of a team or a family. While it is not a crime to use these cheesy coincidences to make a point, nor does anyone really care about the plot consistency of a "kids' movie," I do find some aspects of the movie unsettling, especially the one emphasizing the importance of having the one to make you happy or successful. Somehow singlehandedly fighting villains and wanting to celebrate victory by spending time alone is less okay and satisfactory than sharing it with loved ones; somehow one cannot live to the fullest without the one that they love (or, in this case, hate) full-heartedly. This is proven by the ending scene where Batman lets a team of villains, including the Joker, walk away in the face of the police after expending tremendous efforts to hunt them down. Under the lighthearted and somewhat cynical humor lies the constant reminder that being alone is really not okay.

Someone who thinks they care about you and understand you will come knocking on your door, asking you whether you are okay; and even if you are perfectly okay at the beginning, you feel less okay after you hear their questions. Next thing you know, you are already questioning yourself. "Why did they ask me if I was okay?" "There must be something wrong with me." No. There's nothing wrong with you, or being alone. There are two types of LEGO movie fans: the people who like LEGO Batman — a romantic comedy masked in a superhero costume shaped like a patchwork of cubes — and the people who like the first LEGO movie, because we understand that not "everything is great when you are part of a team." While you're sympathizing with the new LEGO Batman movie, don't forget that some of us are born to be superheroes and need no mask of disguise. We can feel happiness by being alone, in fact, just as much as by having that special one to rely on.