Greta Gerwig's Barbie Looks Like The True Successor To The LEGO Movie

Sorry superheroes, your time in the spotlight is over: 2023 is the year of the plaything. It began with everyone's favorite new murder robo-doll, M3GAN, conquering social media on her way to dominating theaters, then continued with "Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves" rolling a Nat 20 to fend off both John Wick and Shazam in the battle for financial supremacy. Up next are the Mario brothers and the various residents of the Mushroom Kingdom, who hope to make like King Bowser and snatch away Peach's ... er, the box office crown for themselves with "The Super Mario Bros. Movie."

However, there's only one movie based on a toy or game that the cool kids are talking about right now, and that's the incoming masterpiece known as Greta Gerwig's "Barbie." The first full-length trailer and second teaser overall for Gerwig's big-screen adaptation has arrived and it's already got everything you could ask for from a live-action movie about the titular fashion doll icon. Margot Robbie's Barbie and Ryan Gosling's Ken indirectly quoting Aqua's 1997 smash-hit earworm "Barbie Girl"? Will Ferrell channeling his Lord Business persona in "The LEGO Movie" as the "insensitive" and "weird" fictional CEO of Mattel? A pack of Kens threatening to "beach" each other off? (This is a family-friendly movie, right?) All present and accounted for!

Yes, thanks to the latest trailer, Gerwig's film has firmly planted its flag in the sand as the movie to beat this summer — further proving we here at /Film made the right call in selecting it as our most anticipated title of 2023. More than that, it might just be the true successor to "The LEGO Movie" we've been waiting for, and not just because it features Ferrell playing an unscrupulous business executive, either.

The philosophy of Barbie

"The LEGO Movie," like so many of directors Phil Lord and Christopher Miller's ideas, sounded terrible on paper yet proved to be fantastic in motion. It all came down to the film's approach, which was to embrace the spirit of its source material and the very thing that makes LEGOs a blast to play with, regardless of your age: They encourage your sense of creativity by teaching you how to build something by following a specific set of instructions, which in turn develops your sense of imagination and teaches you how to think outside the (LEGO) box.

If there's one thing the "Barbie" marketing has already made clear (other than we were long overdue for a film where Ryan Gosling wears rollerblades), it's that Greta Gerwig holds a deep knowledge and reverence for Barbara Millicent Roberts' cultural legacy, much like Lord and Miller did for LEGOs. People of all ages don't adore the Barbie property because it encourages perfection or conformity to socially-accepted beauty standards; they love it because it inspires self-expression and teaches you it's okay to embrace your personal sense of fashion and style, social norms based on an over-simplified and otherwise anqiuated understanding of gender be damned.

Of course, the Barbie toyline has long been validly criticized for promoting unrealistic body images and creating self-esteem issues, which has gradually spurred Mattel into producing more age-appropriate and carefully-researched Barbie dolls. Just as "The LEGO Movie" serves as an allegory for the ways corporate interests stymy creative expression, it's clear Gerwig's "Barbie" will tackle the toxicity associated with the brand head-on, following Margot Robbie's Barbie and Gosling's Ken as they leave their so-called "perfect" home of Barbie Land behind for the real-world — a journey that will show them just how damaging the very concept of "perfect" truly is.

Blockbusters are out, Barbie-busters are in

Bursting at the seams with exhilarating animation and playfully self-reflexive comedy to match its big ideas, "The LEGO Movie" was as much a crowd-pleaser as it was a critical darling. It's no wonder its sequel and numerous spinoffs (all of which are varying degrees of good or, at the bare minimum, perfectly decent) struggled to match its achievements: There was nothing else quite like "The LEGO Movie" when it hit the scene in 2014, as it miraculously managed to check off all the boxes that studios look for when green-lighting an IP adaptation nowadays while still feeling like a true original.

Heading into this summer, "Barbie" finds itself in a nearly identical position. As much as everyone is looking forward to going on one last adventure with characters like James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy and Indiana Jones in the months to come (not to mention, Christopher Nolan's return to the WWII era and Tom Cruise's latest round of gonzo stunts), we also have a fairly good idea of what to expect from all these things and the rest of this year's blockbuster line-up. "Barbie," on the other hand, neither looks nor feels like just about anything we've come to expect in theaters during the hottest days of the year, despite being based on one of the most recognizable brands in the world.

Just as I had faith the directors of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" and "21 Jump Street" were holding something special up their sleeves with "The LEGO Movie," I trust the mind behind "Lady Bird" and 2019's "Little Women" has cooked up something unique based on everything we've seen and heard so far. We'll find out if I'm right when "Barbie" dances its way into theaters on July 21, 2023.