It’s no secret that LEGO DC is on its last legs at the minute, with only one truly brand new set arriving on shelves in 2022. (The Batman’s four sets launched in October 2021 in the US, and were presumably designed and ready long before then, given delays to the movie.) That’s deeply disappointing for DC fans, especially while LEGO Marvel is absolutely thriving alongside it.
Perhaps more frustrating is that there seems to be no particular rhyme or reason to the LEGO Group’s dismissal of DC: the theme debuted in 2012 without specific ties to any film properties, so the DCEU floundering (and it is floundering, no doubt) should arguably not have any impact on the LEGO theme. There’s an entire universe of comic material to draw from, for starters.
A LEGO customer service representative has now offered at least some explanation for the long-dormant theme, however, suggesting the blame for the lack of sets actually lies at the feet of Warner Bros.
“When it comes to licensed themes like DC and Marvel, we have to get approval for every set before we even begin to make anything,” the LEGO customer service staffer reportedly told one of Ashnflash’s YouTube subscribers. “As much as our fans love the theme and wish for more sets to be made, we go by what we’ve been allowed to do.
“Another thing that we have to keep in mind is we produce new sets mostly around the launch of newer movies/shows. For example, Marvel [has] been releasing lots of new content that we’ve been able to make sets [for] like The Goat Boat, Attack on New Asgard and Gargantos Showdown, whereas DC hasn’t, therefore we’d only be remaking models of current sets!”
It’s worth bearing in mind that customer service reps are not usually the most reliable source of information – particularly regarding design decisions – but it’s an interesting response that must have come from somewhere. If it does hold water, it implies the LEGO Group’s strategy around its superhero themes genuinely has changed in recent years, with a shift away from original sets and comic book material towards products purely inspired by films and TV shows.
We’ve arguably seen as much across Marvel, which has mostly pulled back on original designs (save for its mechs and action figures) in 2022, and DC, as proven by the complete absence of any sets beyond The Batman and 76220 Batman versus Harley Quinn. These releases follow several years of sets not hooked to any particular property, suggesting a deliberate change in strategy from the LEGO Group.
Whether that’s a genuine consequence of conversations with its partners – here being Disney and Warner Bros. – is more difficult to determine. So too is whether remakes genuinely are taboo across the superhero themes, given how prolific they are elsewhere (hello, Star Wars) – we’ve had more than one Iron Man Armoury in the past few years, for instance, along with multiple Spider-Man mechs.
There’s also one more elephant in the room to address: a brand new DCEU movie is arriving in cinemas next month in Black Adam, with seemingly zero LEGO presence to support it. If the LEGO Group is truly hampered by a lack of source material for DC, why isn’t it taking advantage of the studio’s only other live-action 2022 release beyond The Batman?
We reached out to the LEGO Group to find out more, but the company declined to comment. Regardless, it’s probably best not to put too much stock in the customer service rep’s quotes.