Laughing At The Joker: Adam West & Developers Talk ‘LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham’
LEGO Batman 3: Beyond Gotham is going to be a positively huge video game.
I got to see that first hand when I played a brief demo at DC’s booth at Comic-Con International in San Diego last weekend. First off, it’s got a huge playground for players to explore. The “Beyond Gotham” of the title refers to outer space, and the game will go to a whole host of different worlds. Then there are the playable characters–105 or so, according to the game makers, and they include characters in both their superhero guises and as their secret identities. A new feature enables players to change from Clark Kent to Superman using a phone booth, for example.
Characters include multiple Green Lanterns and other lanterns — some of whom are playable as minifigs while others are available as large figures — Batman (standard issue and ’66), Robin (same), The Joker, Lex Luthor, The Flash, Cyborg, The Atom, Wonder Woman, Superman, Killer Croc, Plastic Man, and Bat-Mite. They all have their own special abilities and quirks; for instance, Plastic Man can turn into a toilet and flush enemies away.
There are also new gameplay modes. I got to play a space shooter level that was a lot of fun, for example. On top of that, I also got to talk with some of the game’s creators and stars (including Adam West!) about what the whole process was like.
Game director Arthur Parsons said the reason the new game is a space-faring adventure is that developer TT Games doesn’t want to do the same stuff twice. “[That] is not what the LEGO games are about,” he said. Parsons added that one of his goals with the game was to educate kids about comics and comics characters, including the 1960s Batman.
With all those new character in tow, will Batman still play a major role in LEGO Batman 3? Parsons says he will. “People recognize [LEGO Batman] as a brand. He’s the spine of the story. From start to finish, Batman drives the story.”
Troy Baker, who voices Batman in the LEGO franchise, says Batman’s role in the game is to be the straight man, the Dean Martin, if you will. “We played it straight as possible,” he said. “We’re letting all the fans know that they’re in on the joke.”
Josh Keaton, who voiced Green Lantern on the Green Lantern animated series and now reprises the role of Hal Jordan in the game, said his character also plays a major role this time around, since it mostly takes place on his home turf, in space. He said he’d love for this game to lead into a LEGO Green Lantern game somewhere down the road.
Wonder Woman voice actor Laura Bailey noted that all the game’s actors were in a room together to record their lines, something that doesn’t often happen in video games. She said it was necessary to nail the game’s crucial comic timing.
Adam West, who plays himself and the 1966 version of Batman in the game, said of the game, “I think we’ve really got a winner here with this one.” He said returning to his version of Batman “comes right back. It’s easy.” Even so, he said the game gave him an opportunity to “play him in a different way.”
“What I’ve done with my character in the game is update him a little bit,” West said.
As for playing himself in the game, West said, “What I do is simply exaggerate the quirkier aspects of my personality.”
In discussing his version of Batman and its seeming resurgence in popular culture, West said he decided he should learn to love the character that he’s so strongly associated with, given that he’s now endured for nearly 50 years. “People love him, so why shouldn’t I? I’m the luckiest guy in the world.”
When asked how he think Ben Affleck will do in the new Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice movie, West said, “I have no idea what Ben is going to be like as Batman,” but he said he suspected the character will be rather introspective and troubled.
West said he’d like to see a little humor come back to Batman in a future interpretation of the character on film or on TV.
“I would like to see a sardonic kind of wit,” he said. “If you can’t laugh at yourself, or the Joker, or whatever… I just think the audience likes that moment of relief.”