This year marks the 10th anniversary of both LEGO Marvel and DC, and while the former theme is celebrating (however indirectly) through a packed line-up of play sets, action figures, direct-to-consumer models and more, Warner Bros.’ characters have gotten comparatively little love. Or, to put it bluntly: basically zero love at all.
In fact, only three LEGO DC sets have arrived on shelves in 2022 so far (and even those actually launched in 2021 in the US), in the form of a small tie-in wave for Matt Reeves’ The Batman. Its Batmobile, Batcave and Batcycle are all uniquely reimagined for the movie’s aesthetic, but they’re still familiar territory for the LEGO DC theme as a whole.
A fourth set is coming at some point this year, but 76220 Batman versus Harley Quinn feels like a last gasp for the DC line: it’s a tiny $9.99 model aimed at the 4+ audience, with a new Harley minifigure to entice older fans. Next to Marvel’s constant onslaught of new sets across myriad different formats, it’s positively paltry.
It’s not hard to see why that distinction exists: the Marvel Cinematic Universe is as strong as it ever was, at least in terms of output, and so there’s plenty for the LEGO Group to latch on to. By comparison, the DC Extended Universe is in disarray, with Batgirl the latest victim of Warner Bros.’ constant reshuffle of its cinematic calendar.
5 – Revisiting previous DC movies
We’ll get the most boring suggestion out of the way first: if the LEGO Group is only willing to venture into DC territory when it’s linked to a movie – and no new films are forthcoming – perhaps it’s time to revisit the library of existing titles. It’s already done this to an extent with 2021’s 76239 Batmobile Tumbler: Scarecrow Showdown and 76240 Batmobile Tumbler, but there’s more to DC than just The Dark Knight. If Marvel has its Infinity Saga subtheme, can’t DC get its own DCEU branch?
4 – A second Collectible Minifigures series
It’s hard to believe now, but DC actually pipped Marvel to the post in the Collectible Minifigures department. Back when each series still contained 16 characters, 71026 DC Super Heroes brought us a colourful mix of minifigures from across the DC universe, including plenty of deep cuts from the comics. If there are no particular vehicles or builds to inspire new DC sets, perhaps a second blind-bagged series could help to fill the gaps. (We mostly buy the sets for the minifigures anyway…)
3 – Going big with a direct-to-consumer set
If we only get one serious DC release a year, why not go all out? That could still happen in 2022 with the rumoured $500 set, which has yet to be definitively linked to a specific superhero theme. We’re hoping for a huge minifigure-scale Arkham Asylum or Hall of Justice, but really anything within the DC pantheon would do (especially if it’s jammed with characters, like Marvel’s 76178 Daily Bugle).
2 – Exploring experimental expressions
Take a look at the Marvel page over on LEGO.com, and you’ll be greeted by an almost overwhelming variety of products: from traditional playsets and miniature mechs to modular buildings, display sets and buildable figures, there genuinely is something for everyone. By contrast, DC has Batmobiles, Batmobiles and more Batmobiles, along with a couple of cowls. The LEGO Group could definitely stand to shake things up for DC, and the blueprints for doing so are right there with Marvel.
1 – Returning to its comic book roots
Beyond extravagant new sets or minifigure spin-offs, the simplest way to resurrect LEGO DC is surely to remember what made it so successful in the first place. And – appropriately enough for its 10th anniversary – that means looking back to those original 2012 sets, all of which took inspiration from comics first and foremost. In fact, arguably all of DC’s best sets have had the freedom to play around with their source material, rather than being anchored to a particular movie release.
It’s a formula that’s worked before – so why is the LEGO Group seemingly so reluctant to try it again? Break free of the shackles of the non-existent DC Extended Universe line-up, and there are plenty of potential options for restoring LEGO DC as Marvel’s equal.