We talk to associate producer Matt Ellison about these additions, and the decisions behind the expanded roster of DC characters.
> Digital Spy previews LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Why decide to include DC characters in the sequel?
"Basically, like LEGO Batman 1, this is an original story. This one, again, we wanted to do another original story. The idea is we wanted to make it bigger and better.
"We've got Batman and Joker, who are two of the main characters, and if you have Superman and Lex, which are two iconic characters from their own universe, and if you bring them together and have a story about them both joining forces and both coming up against each other, that's a really exciting thing to have a story revolving around that.
"The unique relationships that those characters bring together, their personalities, [is] all put into one scenario. That's where the idea came from, and the great thing about DC is that they've got some really great iconic characters, and a lot of them lend themselves to games as well.
"Green Lantern for example, we can give him a special type of LEGO that only he can interact with, and that makes him unique, gives him a unique ability, and gives those characters values. The great thing about the costumes and that sort of stuff, they all look so different that it gives them all personalities that we're able to portay to great effect in video games."
There must be so many characters you can choose from - what was the process like for picking and choosing which to use?
"Quite brutal! Again it revolves around the story. We have, obviously, a lot of the Batman related characters, we chose favourites from the first game, and we included a lot from what we had from the first game as well, because they're so iconic and they're characters that people know already, and that's really important... Visually, they all stand out, so it's great to include them.
"In terms of other DC characters, we looked at the Justice League and thought they're great characters to include, and they're included in the story as well to some extent - [but I] can't comment too much about that.
"From there, it's what characters fit nicely with what characters are already there in the story, which other characters compliment those other characters, and which ones are useful in a game - which ones can we give abilities to in the context of a video game, and which ones won't just feel weird if they don't have the right abilities?
"If a character has a time wrap ability, then we can't just stick that character into a game because you have to build the game around that sort of mechanic, so we had to pick ones that we could use. That's part of the process as well. But we're really pleased with the character list that we've got, and we work really closely with DC to discuss the outfits that the characters have as well.
"When it comes to choosing the outfits that the characters have, we had two things they fall into, you've got LEGO and DC. If LEGO make the toys of the characters, we will base the characters on the toy.
"When kids have the mini figure in their bedroom, they can play the games and see that toy coming to life in a video game, and that's a principle that we always try to apply. When LEGO don't have a toy, we create our own, and then DC will advise us on what outfit they'd like us to use.
"We do have some of the New 52 outfits in the game, where they rebooted all [that] stuff. We do have those outfits there. We do have DC's own knowledge of their own characters and take their advice, and maybe be influenced by them on what they'd like to see in the game and put that into the game.
"When they're so familiar with their own brand and know what works for their characters, we're able to take them into the game as they want us to. So that's a great thing for us to be able to do."
Was it difficult having to go between two different parties, LEGO and DC?
"We're quite used to it now. With a lot of our games we end up in that situation. We have a great relationship with LEGO that's been established through many games now, and working with [an] extra licensor as well. Every game has a different challenge in making a game as authentic as possible, that's what everyone wants to do.
"We want them to feel like authentic games, even though they are LEGO games, and it's just finding that balance. DC have been phenomenal to work with in this, and it's something that we've got quite used to and it's something that we've learnt how best to work when working to get people's advice in.
"With LEGO, we've got a great relationship as well. It's just been built up through experience now. It's been a good experience on this game."
This is an original story like the first Batman, whereas other LEGO franchises are based on movie plots. What's that like to work on your own story that you guys get to create?
"It's been a great experience. The stories come from [design director] Jon Burton, then the script is written by David A Goodman, and they came up with this story and we implemented it into the game, and that's been a great thing for us to do. There's a lot of funny dialogue in there. The main thing with this game, and what sets it apart from LEGO Batman 1, is that we have speech, we have voiceovers.
"LEGO Batman 1... was an original story, but it was quite difficult to get the story across to people. Because where we have a game like Harry Potter [or] Indiana Jones, those are things that people know already, and a lot of cutscenes would be taking those scenes, putting them into LEGO form, twisting them slightly, but people would be recognising things.
"With LEGO Batman 1, we had to try and tell a story that people didn't know, so a lot of the humour and the charm of it was in a slapstick style of comedy. Then in terms of actually getting the story across to people, it was either text or pointing to signs, and it can get quite convoluted when trying to explain story points to people without speech.
"Having speech in this game, we've found has been a massive help in getting the story across, because we're able to tell a full story now. We don't have to worry about people not understanding it, because it's there to be heard and there to be enjoyed. That's really helped. There was a general concern from everyone, us included, that some of the charm might be lost where the characters might be speaking, but I think it hasn't been.
"If anything, nothing has been lost at all, because we don't have to have the speech, we can still have all the slapstick humour in there, and we can still have the way in which characters interact with one another and still be amusing in the same way that we've always done.
"The thing is that we get other voiceovers, we can have funny dialogue, almost have jokes, set characters up, get their personalities across better, and the way in which they say things can be funny as well. It's been a win-win, having speech in the game. [The] only positives come out of having speech in this game."
Do you think you'll start implementing speech in other LEGO games as well?
"My honest answer is that it would be hard to go back, but we'll have to see what the future holds."
Are there any inspirations that you take from other Batman franchises, for example the Dark Knight movies or the Arkham games?
"We will always look at other stuff that's out there. It makes sense to do that because you can see what works and get experience. Again, working with DC they know exactly what they want for their brand. So working closely with them means we get a lot of that information from them and the direction they'd like us to go in.
"The other thing we have to bear in mind with a LEGO game is that our target audience is sometimes younger than some of the other Batman stuff that's out there. That's something that we're always aware of, and we want to make sure that this is a family-friendly product that we're creating.
"Our version of Gotham is still quite dark and rainy and dreary, and there's still goons running around and causing problems, but it's done in a slightly different way.
"There are giant LEGO statues that have funny expressions on their face, and all of that helps lightens the mode and remind people that they are still playing a LEGO game, and the overall feel of it is that it should be lighter, lighter than a lot of the other Batman material out there.
"And even with Batman as a character himself, he still doesn't want to rely on anyone else, especially not Superman, and that plays out in the story as it goes through. So we still have that essence of the Batman character, but we're able to do it in a way that's more family-friendly appropriate."
Why decide to go open-world with the hub?
"Once the story is down and filling in the levels, it's [a case of], 'How can we best fill...' We always want to do a hub world, and we really wanted to have a LEGO version of Gotham, and it just went from there, and how big and how great can we make it?
"That's where it comes out of. Being able to put our LEGO twist on Gotham City has been a big challenge, but the reward is there to be seen. We're absolutely delighted with how it's turned out, and it's a fantastic thing for us to have been able to do.
"The core mechanics behind it aren't much different to our previous hubs, the levels are still triggered, and then you go onto a level, but this is just done on a different scale from what we've done before."
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes will be available on Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, PC, DS, 3DS and Vita on June 19 in North America and June 22 in Europe.