If the trailer campaign for The Lego Batman Movie is any indication, audiences will be treated to music full of subtle nods and on-the-nose allusions when the film hits theatres this week. Following in the wake of The Lego Movie (2014), The Lego Batman Movie has big shoes to fill. Much of The Lego Movie’s success is no doubt due to its effective use of music, and in particular the infectiously catchy original song “Everything is Awesome.” However, the trailer campaign for the franchise’s second film has opted for a different tack, using popular music in lieu of original material, recoding the music’s meaning as a means for achieving its comedic ends.
Right from the beginning of the first trailer, the music sets the tone of the film as the audience is treated to a beatboxing Batman voiced by Will Arnett, who is casually laying down what he calls “some dope tracks.” Cut to the Warner Brothers title card, the music shifts tone to over-the-top epic trailer music, synched with flying title cards listing the Batman films in sequential order, finally ending on The Lego Movie. The stark juxtaposition between the serious tone of the cliché trailer music with the amateur beatboxing is enough of a parodic musical statement to prepare the audience for the shenanigans that are all but guaranteed. The trailer makes effective use of silence, often cutting the music entirely to deliver hilarious punchlines. Wiz Khalifa’s hit “Black and Yellow” accompanies the remainder of the trailer, a clever nod to the cape crusader’s iconic costume and logo.
After Batman breaks the fourth wall and addresses the audience, Mozart’s Requiem dramatically underpins the next scene of the second trailer, which features a lonely Batman speaking to his deceased parents while looking at a family photo. The music cuts abruptly when Alfred interrupts his quiet contemplation and Batman accidentally kicks his unsuspecting butler into the piano. When Alfred prompts Batman to talk about his feelings, Batman says “no” repeatedly until it transforms into song, with the classic Batman theme song that further digresses into impromptu beatboxing. The trailer ends with a contemporary hip-hop version of the theme song.
The Comic-Con trailer for the film begins with synthesized bass pedalling accented by percussion shots, only to be interrupted by the theatrical dun-dun-dun cliché. More percussive shots and strings play through an intense motif, which is interrupted by a brief musical interlude featuring a heavily filtered bass guitar when Batman’s sidekick Robin ignores Batman’s advice and inevitably presses the big red button. Kalifa’s “Black and Yellow” again closes out the trailer.
The audience is again treated to Kalifa’s mantra for the fourth and final trailer of the film’s campaign, this time at the beginning of the preview. Upon arriving home to his solitary Batcave, Batman embarks on various solo-endeavors accompanied by Three Dog Night’s “One is the Loneliest Number.” Batman’s seclusion is however short-lived when Robin appears, cuing the final number. Leaving all presumption of subtlety at the door, a pop remix of Starship’s “We Built This City” plays out the remainder of the trailer.
- Andrew Sproule