One triumph of The Lego Batman Movie is its ability to simultaneously satirize and celebrate the legacy of the Dark Knight, a rich history spanning eight decades of comic books, TV shows, and, especially, films. From Will Arnett’s Christian Bale-inspired gravelly growl to callbacks to the 1940s serial, The Lego Batman Movie is overstuffed with cinematic references and inside jokes. The pilot immediately calls out the Joker, pointing out how his previous big-screen endeavors were thwarted by the Caped Crusaders, alluding to both 2008’s The Dark Knight and 1989’s Batman.
Robin Williams played countless colorful characters over the course of his career, but there was one especially flashy role that evaded him: the Batman villain. The late actor, who died Monday of an apparent suicide, told Empire Magazine in 2010 that he was twice offered jobs as iconic antagonists in the original movie series, first as the Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman (1989), and then as the Riddler in Batman Forever (1995), but got “screwed” on both, with those roles ultimately going to Jack Nicholson and Jim Carrey, respectively. After Williams’s Insomnia director Christopher Nolan very successfully rebooted the Dark Knight franchise with Batman Begins (2005), the actor’s name was regularly batted about as one of the series’ possible rogues.