With The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part likely to take the genre and character mashing to the next level, Brick Fanatics looks at how the LEGO Group has pushed the crossovers that have become a key part of pop culture today
Picture the scene. It is summer 2013 and the previous year saw the billion-dollar success of Marvel’s Avengers bring together different characters for the ultimate superhero crossover movie, unlike any we had ever seen before on screen. Little did we know what the LEGO Group would have up its sleeve.
A short teaser trailer for the The LEGO Movie was released which introduced us to the lovable Emmet in a large auditorium on Cloud Cuckoo Land, before the wise Vitruvius addressed fellow master builders, in his words “including, but not limited to…” and proceeded to name check Superman, Wonder Woman, the Green Ninja, a 1984 Classic Space guy, Michelangelo (of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles [TMNT]) and even the 2002 NBA All-Stars (including Shaquille O’ Neal), leaving most of us to ask the question… what did we just see?
When the film was finally released in February of 2014, we saw that Dan Lin, Phil Lord and Chris Miller had managed to bring together a cast of both LEGO original and licensed properties in a way previously unseen. Blink-and-you-miss-it appearances from franchises included Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, DC, Star Wars, TMNT, as well as characters from the Collectible Minifigures run and themes such as Classic Space, Castle and Adventurers. Even historical figures such as Abraham Lincoln and William Shakespeare joined forces, culminating in the most bonkers of storylines but succeeding in giving audiences and LEGO fans a visually incredible animated adventure. Mind = blown.
While the licence hopping may have been new for the big screen, it should not really have been all that much of a surprise. In 1999, the LEGO Group introduced us to their Star Wars models and 19 years later we’ve been privy to hundreds of sets (for better and worse) that tie in to various films and TV series under that same galaxy-sized umbrella. In that time we’ve also had sets from Harry Potter, Ben 10, Speed Racer, Avatar: Last Airbender, Spongebob Squarepants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Lord of the Rings, Scooby-Doo! Cars, Toy Story, Angry Birds and of course the majority of DC and Marvel films of the last few years.
This may have then given way in 2015 to the hugely inventive, if disappointingly short-lived, LEGO Dimensions video game which rolled with the mashing up of licensed properties and took it to another level, unprecedented in any form of media up until that point.
Fast forward to present day in 2018. We’ve since had several Marvel and DC cross-over movies in cinema and a myriad of LEGO Dimensions sets featuring a particularly eclectic assortment of IPs. There is big business to be made and by now everyone is trying to hop on the cross-franchise band-wagon, with Steven Spielberg recently releasing his contribution to the genre with Ready Player One.
With each new outing from the cinematic brick bucket that has given us The LEGO Movie, The LEGO Batman Movie and (disappointingly less well-received) The LEGO NINJAGO Movie, the marketing push has increased ten-fold. Normal system sets are par for the course, but of course there are exclusive polybags, newspaper giveaways, fast-food freebies, books, video games, clothing and much more. Given the current popularity of BrickHeadz we can probably expect to see at least Emmet and Wyldstyle make a square-headed appearance as well as the highly probable chances of a new collectable minifigures series.
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