batgirl

The LEGO Batman Movie: Death of a Police Commissioner, Birth of a Batgirl

(Spoilers below? Oh yeah.)

A few years back there was a Lego movie. It’s name escapes me right now. Anyway, the Lego movie was thought to promote collectivism and criticize capitalism. The makers of the Lego movie (whatever it was called) denied an anti-business agenda BUT… the bad guy in the film was named “Lord Business.”

Well, a few years have passed and now we have The Lego Batman Movie on our hands. Perhaps to bring a Ra’s al Ghul-ish balance to the cinematic Lego-verse, this film asserts a strong critique of police policies largely revealed through the Barbara Gordon character. Her shedding of the commissioner’s uniform (Don’t get excited, it’s a PG film) in favor of her Batgirl costume formalizes her abandonment of supposedly enlightened law enforcement policies.

In the first reel Police Commissioner Jim Gordon finds himself in a crisis: The Joker has assembled a huge bomb to blow the literal floor out from under Gotham City. Gordon does what the G.C.P.D. does best: Call BATMAN!

Although the Bat-signal has been egg-otaged, Batman is so good at his self-appointed job (which he loves enough to do without pay) that he saves the day anyway disguised as the female Mayor of Gotham (Note: No story or character credit is given to the writers of Tootsie or Mrs. Doubtfire while Bob Kane, Bill Finger, Jerry Siegel, and Joe Shuster do. Come to think of it, I don’t recall J.K. Rowling or Tolkien getting character credit for Sauron and Voldemort. Hmmm….)

By the end of The LEGO Batman Movie Barbara Gordon refuses to wear the uniform required of her municipal job.
By the end of The LEGO Batman Movie Barbara Gordon refuses to wear the uniform required of her municipal job.

When Jim Gordon retires in favor of his daughter (the G.C.P.D. doesn’t seem to have a very robust inspector general) Barbara is hailed as an excellent choice by Gotham’s Lego-rati. Her qualifications? She went to “Harvard for Police.” She uses statistics! And she has a slogan! “It takes a village.” For those of you lucky enough to be young, that is the title of Hillary Clinton’s first book.

When the Joker surrenders to Barbara Gordon, it’s celebrated as a validation of her methods. Batman pushes Barbara to transport the Joker to the Phantom Zone – where the worst bad guys in the Lego-verse have been banished. Barbara rejects it out of hand. The word “illegal” easily slips out of her mouth but you know the writers struggled to type “Phantom Zone” instead of “Guantanamo Bay” while pounding out the script.

The Joker’s sidekick, Harley Quinn takes advantage of the G.C.P.D.’s lax security to steal the Phantom Zone projector and release its inmates. Notice that while the Projector was in Superman’s private ownership, the Joker didn’t even attempt to steal it. He waited until the Gotham City Police’s inferior procedures made his plans possible.

Barbara Gordon’s deviations from state-centric orthodoxy dramatically escalate when the Joker returns with Voldemort, the Wicked Witch of the West, and Sauron (among others) from the Phantom Zone. She immediately releases not only Batman and Robin but also every other Arkham inmate to build a resistance army she knows her police cannot rival. During the final battle, it’s Barbara – who once decried incarceration in the Phantom Zone as “illegal” – swooping to-and-fro in a Batgirl suit zapping baddies back to the Phantom Zone without even a Stalin-esque show trial.

Perhaps the coup de grâce to Barbara’s transition comes at the denouement (two French terms in one sentence, go Boblius) of the movie when she asks permission from Batman to pursue the villains she previously let out of Arkham. A city appointed guardian of public safety asks a private citizen for approval before performing her job.

Take a moment to ponder that.

Yvonne Craig was the first actress to portray Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. In the 1960s TV series Barbara was a librarian while she has been given a promotion in The LEGO Batman Movie to Police Commissioner.
Yvonne Craig was the first actress to portray Barbara Gordon/Batgirl. In the 1960s TV series Barbara was a librarian while she has been given a promotion in The LEGO Batman Movie to Police Commissioner.

Questions for Your Health:

-If you can think of the title of the Lego movie that came out a couple years ago, would you share it please?
-Will Barbara resign as Commissioner or just wear her Batgirl costume while doing her job from now on?
-Do you think it was awkward between Ralph Feinnes and Eddie Izzard in the recording booth because Eddie took over Ralph’s old role as Voldemort?
-What are the chances of a spinoff Snake Clowns movie?