Though many of us watched those precious plastic bits vanish into the vacuum cleaner years ago, many grown-ups now turn their Legos into art. Artist Nathan Sawaya, for instance, creates eye-popping sculptures using the tiny bricks. He even sculpted Lego recreations of the famous New York City Public Library lions, Patience and Fortitude.
TT Animation’s Jon Burton is another adult turning plastic into gold. Burton is director and producer of “Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite,” a comic adventure featuring the Dark Knight, Superman, and other popular DC characters. Though the film is action-packed, the iconic characters are portrayed in a broader, more parodying environment.
Burton appeared at WonderCon 2013 in Anaheim back in March to talk about the film. The story focuses on Lex Luthor (voice of Clancy Brown) and his plan to strike back at Batman’s alter ego Bruce Wayne (Troy Baker). Though he is loathe to admit he needs help, the Dark Knight must turn to the Man of Steel for help.
Burton said creating the game and the movie turned into about a two-year process.
“We came up with the draft treatment, ran it by Lego, and started talking to DC, getting them more comfortable about what is a more parody take,” the director said during a roundtable interview. “We’ve done video games; I’ve obviously designed video games for them. Part of the process was talking to Lego and DC and getting them comfortable with where we are going to take these characters and make them larger than life.”
Lego quality takes time
For the second game, Burton said he and his team originally planned to do the Lego Batman movie first and base the game off it. “We realized that to make a movie to the quality you want to make took longer than it did with the video game. So the video game came out first,” he said.
The director said they realized they also would have to take the movie storytelling a little further.
“There’s only so far you can go with miming. We knew we would have to add voices to the characters. Our whole take was to make a Lego Batman movie because that will allow us to make a video game and to tell a cool Batman story with voices and everything else,” Burton said. “Rather than just sit there on our laurels and just make the same thing over and over, with each step, we try to push it forward. There’s a risk there that if you change too much, people will stop playing the game.”
Burton points out, though, that anything already shown in the videogame has been completely reanimated in “Lego Batman: The Movie.”
“We’ve gone over it, it’s been relit, we just start from scratch all over again. That was all going on in parallel with the game,” he said.
“Lego Batman: The Movie – DC Superheroes Unite” is now available on DVD and Blu-ray