Eventually, every film will be made in partnership with LEGO.

Okay, maybe not, but it certainly feels like the toy building blocks have become major Hollywood players since the surprise success of The LEGO Movie. Right now, Rob Schrab is hard at work on the sequel to that film, and the trailers for The LEGO Batman Movie have been killing since they debuted two of them back to back. We knew they were also planning to release a Ninjago film of some sort, but news on that has been a lot quieter… until now.

Using a pamphlet they obtained at the Licensing Expo 2016, LEGO fansite Brickset revealed the primary voice cast for The LEGO Ninjago Movie. Evidently, these characters all exist in the LEGO Ninjago TV show, but they’ve all been recast, and it’s clear that there’s a common talent pool that they’re using for all of these films, with some big movie stars showing up as well. It’s becoming very cool to be associated with one of these LEGO movies, and i think it would be crazy to underestimate just how important these films are to Warner Bros. They represent one of the major tentpoles they’re leaning on over the next five to ten years, including the ongoing expansion of JK Rowlings’ Wizarding World, the DC Films, and the James Wan/Ed and Lorraine Warren series, and it’s interesting to see who they’re using.

It feels like the properties themselves are aimed squarely at children, but the casting and the execution are aimed at adults. That’s the combination that made The LEGO Movie work in the first place. Not a lot of kids are going to wig out to see Silicon Valley stars Kumail Nanjiani and Zach Woods together again here as Jay and Zane, but for anyone who watches that show, that’s exciting. My kids are utterly unaware of Broad City, but I’m happy to see Abbi Jacobson, who will play Nya, show up anywhere. Dave Franco is Lloyd, Michael Pena is Kai, and Fred Armisen will voice Cole, but it’s the casting of Master Wu that best captures everything that the LEGO movies are trying to do. My kids and I are equally aware of and excited by Jackie Chan, and if this movie had been made in 1991, they probably would have tried to cast Pat Morita, which seems apt considering Chan’s role in the Karate Kid remake.

I know nothing about these characters and the overall story of Ninjago, and if Warner expects this to be as big as The LEGO Batman Movie, they’re going to have to be able to explain the entire idea to me in a three-minute trailer. Of the various LEGO films they’re making right now, this is the one that feels like the biggest uphill battle. Still, it’s LEGO, and that carries a weight of its own now. If Warner keeps casting these the way they are, they may succeed in making all of these into successful standalone series united under one big broad banner.

The LEGO Batman Movie is in theaters February 10, 2017.
The LEGO Ninjago Movie is in theaters September 22, 2017.
The LEGO Movie Sequel is in theaters February 8, 2019.

A respected critic and commentator for fifteen years, Drew McWeeny helped create the online film community as "Moriarty" at Ain't It Cool News, and now proudly leads two budding Film Nerds in their ongoing movie education.