First off, let me just say, I am a huge fan of Nightwing. Dick Grayson is my favorite non-super superhero, and is a great character that has done something most comic book heroes are unable to do – he grew up. First appearing in Detective Comics #38 in 1940, Grayson debuted as Robin the Boy Wonder, and over the years he has grown and evolved past the role of Robin, leaving the shadow of the Batman behind to become his own hero – Nightwing.
The ever-evolving DC Film slate recently announced that Nightwing will be the next character to get the film treatment, with Chris McKay (The LEGO Batman Movie) directing and Bill Dubuque (The Accountant) writing the script. McKay spoke recently about the character and his relationship with the Batman:
“He’s a fascinating guy to me, because he had all the same things happen to him. He’s got some of the same negatives as Bruce Wayne and then from a society standpoint – obviously, he was adopted into Bruce Wayne’s life – but he didn’t start that way. He’s this guy who has all these negatives and then even more negatives and yet he remains. Those are things why I like Dick Grayson, why I like the idea of Nightwing as a movie.”
Nightwing is a fairly unique character in the DC Universe, having fought alongside Batman for years as Robin and later Nightwing while still retaining his humor and light, in comparison to Batman’s ever-present gloom and darkness. That is exactly what makes Nightwing such a standout hero in the DCU, and it’s a good sign that McKay feels the same way about the character. But is this really the best time for a Nightwing film?
With the current iteration of Batman on the cinematic screen – played by Ben Affleck in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League – his timeline would fit perfectly with the older Nightwing character, so there isn’t an argument against it being too soon in Batman’s career. And we know that Robin exists in the DCEU, thanks to the easter egg in BvS that showed the damaged Robin suit on display in his ‘Batcave.’
But with some of DC Films’ problems seemingly coming from trying to rush these films into one cohesive universe, the last thing I want to see is that happen to Nightwing. There have already been a few shuffles with the upcoming solo Batman film, with Ben Affleck dropping out of directing duties, and even rumored to be dropping from the role altogether. And then Matt Reeves was back and forth before officially signing on as director, which doesn’t add the most faith to the film studio at this point, which already has some doubters after reports of studio interference. And that’s not even getting into the troubles the solo Flash film has gone through so far.
Now, it’s fairly recognized among our collective audience that we are sick of origin stories, at least in regards to superhero movies. Having seen Spider-Man, Superman, and Batman’s origins play out multiple times has left viewers dreading the next origin movie, which is a problem for Nightwing. Because as great as his character is now, how he got there, and the legacy he left behind him are some of the greatest details of his story. To see a Nightwing movie without a proper lead up seems like more rushing on DC’s part, but there is another side to this.
One thing DC has shown is the ability to adapt their film slate, with the original lineup of announced films having changed interestingly with each subsequent release. Man of Steel led to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice instead of Man of Steel 2 – though that sequel is still rumored to be in the works following the Justice League intro films. Suicide Squad is leading to Gotham City Sirens instead of a direct sequel as well, though that is still planned for later, possibly directed by Mel Gibson. DC Films has watched what works and what doesn’t and seem to be allowing their film plan to flow along with those observations.
With Suicide Squad, it’s clear director David Ayer and Margot Robbie clicked and made future plans, resulting in her starring role in Gotham City Sirens. Man of Steel‘s semi-warm reviews led to the inclusion of Batman and the full launch of plans for the Justice League instead of the slow burn that Marvel has perfected. This led to some derision among fans, but after a shaky start might be a strength for the DCEU in time.
We’ve seen how stepping outside the safety net has worked for Marvel, with one of their biggest successes still being Guardians of the Galaxy, which was once considered a risk for the studio. So maybe stepping outside the Batman/Superman box is a good idea for right now. Let Nightwing be that unique light in your film slate that the fans aren’t as able to easily predict while escaping the weariness from yet another Superman or Batman film. While rushing the character to a starring role in his own film could very well be disastrous, resting some of the weight of the DCEU on Dick’s shoulders could be the very thing this struggling film universe needs – because he can handle it.
Is this the best time for a Nightwing movie? Maybe, maybe not. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to see it happen.
What do you think? Are you excited for Nightwing to shine in his own film? Should he appear in Batman’s solo film first? Let us know in the comments section below and join the discussion on the GEEK Facebook page!
Images: DC Comics, Warner Bros.