The new movie will follow a different plot and have a different voice cast to the TV series, but will feature familiar names and settings. USA Today have exclusively shared details on the core NINJAGO team, having interviewed Dave Franco, who voices Lloyd Garmadon in the feature.
Lloyd is a seemingly unremarkable kid in his daily life, but when he becomes the masked Green Ninja of the Ninjago super-team, “he has much more confidence … and wants to do everything he can to protect his home,” says Franco.
Also in his squad: the hotheaded Kai (Michael Peña), robot Zane (Zach Woods), uber-rad Cole (Fred Armisen), insecure Jay (Kumail Nanjiani) and strong-willed Nya (Abbi Jacobson). “They may be really cool as ninjas and the Ninjago world adores them, but at school they’re the geeks and nerds who are ignored.”
Sensei Wu – apparently Master Wu in the movie – and Lord Garmadon, voiced by Justin Theroux, are both being introduced to a broader audience for the first time, too.
Master Wu (Jackie Chan) is the group’s teacher — as well as Lord Garmadon’s brother — and Franco says he and Lloyd have a Mr. Miyagi/Daniel relationship, a la The Karate Kid. “It sometimes takes Lloyd a little while to grasp the lessons that Master Wu is trying to instill within him.” (Chan’s stunt team actually filmed the martial arts sequences that the filmmakers animate over for the movie’s fights.)
Hanging over Lloyd is the shadow of his father, who left him and his mother Koko (Olivia Munn) when Lloyd was a baby. An operatic sociopath, Lord Garmadon doesn’t exactly make the road to redemption easy. “I think he’s suffered a series of slights and cuts over the course of his life when people question his narcissism, so it’s made him more and more evil as a result,” says Theroux.
For Theroux, the magic of the Lego movies like Ninjago is the blend of the distinctive look, playful energy and goofy humor that hits on multiple levels: Kids will dig Lord Garmadon riding a large mechanical shark with legs while adults get the comedy of the supervillain frequently pestering Lloyd to find out if his ex-wife is seeing anybody.
“Ninjago is one of the most insane place in the universe,” Theroux says. “So much of it makes no sense. It feels like it came out of the mind of a kid rather than out of the minds of some people sitting in a writers’ room.”