While Warner Bros. has a number of different DC Comics adaptations in the works at the moment, Nightwing is shaping up to be a hell of a thing. The project was announced in the wake of The LEGO Batman Movie, with that film’s director Chris McKay announced as the director of a live-action Nightwing movie that will finally give the Dick Grayson character his own film. McKay was an interesting choice to direct, given that his background is primarily in animation with shows like Robot Chicken and Titan Maximum, but with The LEGO Batman Movie McKay proved he can handle humor, heart, and action in equal measure, and it sounds like he has an exciting take on Nightwing lined up.
Collider’s Christina Radish spoke with McKay at the press day for The LEGO Ninjago Movie, which he produced, and when asked about his take on Nightwing, McKay shared his enthusiasm for finally bringing Dick Grayson to the big screen:
“I’m a big comic book fan, and being able to do the story of Nightwing, to do a Dick Grayson story, which is a character that every single person in the world knows, but has never really had a lot of screentime. They make a billion Spider-Man movies and a lot of Batman movies, and they’ve tried The Hulk. When they were making the Tim Burton movies, they were always like, ‘Oh, maybe we’ll do Robin in this now. Maybe we’ll save Robin for Returns. Nope, we’ll save it for the next one.’ With Christopher Nolan, people were like, ‘Is he gonna do Robin?’ When they made Batman v Superman, they were talking about it. I’m a big fan of underdog stories, and he is one of the biggest underdog stories in comics. And he’s a character that I grew up with. I like the arc.”
That arc, of course, is something of a zero to hero:
“You always thought Robin was the dork and were like, ‘I don’t want to be like Robin. I don’t want to play with Robin. I wanna play Batman.’ But Robin was there as a window character for little kids like me to understand Batman’s world and see into Batman’s world. There’s no other character in comics that went through this real-time transition. Every other character lives in a rough version of the age that they’re in. Very few characters actually grow up in the comics and become something else, and go from being a boy to being an adult, and have their own life and become their own thing.”
As for what McKay has planned for Nightwing specifically, the film is still a ways off and casting hasn’t begun, but he hopes to focus on the practical strengths of the character rather than relying on CG effects:
“It’s gonna be a fucking badass action movie with a lot of heart and emotion. It’s gonna be a crazy, fun ride. Whoever gets cast as Nightwing, and any of the other actors around, are gonna go through a fucking boot camp experience because it’s gonna be a lot. I’m not gonna do a lot of CG. It’s gonna be all real shit. It’s gonna be real stuntwork, and they’re gonna need to do all of the stuff on camera and do it credibly. For the cast and the crew, it’s gonna be a visceral experience, and for the audience. It’s not gonna be like a lot of these movies where there’s a lot of CG and flying, and things like that. Everything he does is gonna have to be real. His superpower is being really fucking good, as a human being, at fighting and gymnastics and shit like that, so you’re gonna see that on screen. It’s gonna be fun!”
This all sounds terrific and has me wondering why Warner Bros. hasn’t put this thing into overdrive yet. Of course, the studio is still in the midst of figuring out its DCEU slate, including toying with the idea of non-DCEU movies, but hopefully Nightwing gets off the ground sooner rather than later.
As for what is on the docket, Aquaman just wrapped filming, Shazam! starts production early next year, Gavin O’Connor (The Accountant) just signed on to direct Suicide Squad 2 to start filming in 2018, and Patty Jenkins finally closed her deal to return to write and direct Wonder Woman 2 for a 2019 release date. Things are finally coalescing for Warner Bros.’ DC slate, and here’s hoping Nightwing gets added to the immediate docket in the coming months.