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The Lego Movie is the popular animated film by Disney based on their popular children’s toy. The movie follows the adventures of two Lego Ninjago heroes, Emmett, a peace-loving robot, and his friend and fellow vigilante, Liam, as they fight criminal gangs in order to protect the Lego universe from total destruction. Along the way, the two brave heroes encounter many colorful characters from the Lego universe, including the giant lego ape, Boss Baby, Metal Beard, and of course, the villainous Lord Business, who plans on using his magic wands to control the universe.

While not the most original or groundbreaking stories, the movie will be instantly recognizable to anyone who has played with Lego as a child. One of the most memorable scenes in the film comes when Emmett and Liam battle it out in a duel to the death. In the midst of their fierce fight, Emmett reveals himself to be a bit more human than the mechanical man he seems like. Just as he’s about to strike Liam, Emmett reveals that his left arm is only attached to his body with a thin strip of metal, and that he secretly harbors a sadistic streak. This is also the same trickster demon that earlier in the film took the form of an old man and used a variety of disguises to fool the good guys.

Upon hearing this, Liam calls for a little help from the most unlikely of allies: the Lego® Shark from Ninjago (2017). Using one of his famous leaps, the agile leviathan easily hovers over Emmett and lands a deadly bite on his metal arm. The scene is so comical that the audience almost immediately starts laughing. But wait, what was that? Did he just say “lego shark” like a harmless jest or is he actually teaming up with Emmett’s arch-nemesis for a last stand?

The scene ends with a brilliant musical number that celebrates the friendship and camaraderie between Legos and the great American spirit. The two teams join forces to fend off the evil mastermind with a catchy tune aptly titled ‘You’re Going Down’.

The teaming of these two unlikely allies is pure coincidence and has absolutely nothing to do with the movies story. However, the scene has become a viral sensation, with many fans calling for the inevitable reunion of these two legendary allies in future stories.

So what is the relationship between the Lego movie villains and heroes? Well, for centuries, people have been using Legos as a symbol of peace and cooperation. The toys were once used to teach kids right from wrong and to show them that you can be friendly and kind to your enemies. After witnessing their power, it is no surprise that the two teams have turned into bitter rivals. Despite this, the Legos remain good-hearted and optimistic, and still believe that peace is the best way forward. The only difference now is that they are prepared to fight for it.

The cinematic universe of Lego is vast, and just because one movie features a certain character or sets, it doesn’t mean they have to team up. For example, the popular Black Widow played a key role in the Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) movie, but she didn’t appear in the original Ironman installment. As fans of the character know, she has a long and storied history and has been featured in numerous comics, cartoons, and even a live-action series. So while it is fun to speculate on the adventures of unexpected cross-overs between unrelated movies, it is more interesting to consider storytelling tropes that continue from movie to movie.

When writing a story, it is crucial to consider what came before. In the case of The Lego Movie, the writers and directors had to consider not only the characters and settings of the existing Lego franchise, but they also had to consider the various incarnations of the ‘80s LEGO franchise called The Smurfs that also featured an evil witch called Smurfette. While the movies don’t necessarily have to make sense, they serve as a great example of inter-dimensional crossovers that exist within the world of fiction. For example, Smurfette is the evil twin sister of the titular characters, and it wasn’t until 2011 that we learned of her existence. This is because when the original Smurfs came out in 1981, there were no other ‘80s-specific Smurfs films. The characters did not cross over into the original decade until the third chapter of the Smurfs series, which came out in 2011.

’80s Orphan’

To understand the connection between The Lego Movie and the Smurfs, it is first important to establish what is known about the character of Emmett. He was originally designed as a ‘70s science fiction orphan or ‘space kid’, and was named after the 19th century British children’s author, George MacDonald. In the ‘70s, Emmett would have fit perfectly into the world of the ‘80s. However, it wasn’t until the ‘90s that he became affiliated with any particular decade. This is because he was redesigned in 2011 specifically for the 2010s, and he became the first Lego character to appear in both the ‘80s and the ‘00s.

From a storytelling perspective, this is a brilliant move on the part of the creators. As a child of the ‘80s myself, it is easy for me to get emotionally attached to characters from that decade. What is more is that not only are these characters recognizable, but it also means I already have something to latch on to. It is similar to how I feel about the Joker or Harley Quinn. While Harley Quinn may appear in various ‘70s stories, it is not until the ‘90s that she firmly lands in the ‘80s.

Similarly, Batman was first portrayed as an adult in the 1939 film, The Adventures of Robin Hood. In that iteration, he was established as the private investigator of British aristocrat, Lord Loxley. Between 1939 and 1943, Batman made occasional appearances as a boy, though not always in costume, until the character was fully reimagined as an adult in the late ‘40s. While the ‘50s and the ‘60s saw the emergence of the teenaged sidekick, it wasn’t until the ‘70s that Batman became more than a mentor to Robin. The Dynamic Duo would appear in various films throughout the ‘80s and into the early ‘90s, but it wasn’t until 1997’s Batman & Robin that the pair officially ‘shifted gears’ as adults. Even then, the ‘80s were still lurking in the background.

This level of detail is what makes the work of filmmakers and writers so much fun to dissect. While many movies exist in a vacuum, these sorts of insights allow us to truly appreciate the stories that were crafted with such meticulous attention to detail. Take a moment to think about the legacy of the ‘80s. While much has changed, the decade still evokes a certain spirit. It is in part due to this that viewers are still so keen to explore the world of the ‘80s, even when it is done in a humorous fashion.