This week, Warner Brothers announced what many fans of DC Comics have been waiting forever to hear: beloved superhero Nightwing is finally getting his own movie, coming to us from writer/director Chris McKay, who recently directed The LEGO Batman Movie. Why is this such big news? Well, for starters Nightwing–who is Dick Grayson, a.k.a. the original Robin all grown up–is one of the most famous superheroes in the world, and amazingly, one who has never had a live-action incarnation, at least in his adult superhero identity.
Am I overestimating how iconic this character is? Let me put it this way — there are probably only a handful of superheroes that even your grandma knows, and I’d bet one of them is Robin. Specifically, the original Robin. I think a solid argument can be made that he’s the most high profile superhero to not have a live action adaptation in the modern era. In a time when every superhero and their brother has a live-action incarnation, Nightwing was long overdue for his time in the spotlight .
Right now we know next to nothing about the film, besides who is going to be making it. But there are certain key ingredients to making a decent Nightwing movie to which Warner Brothers must adhere. Fans have been waiting a very long time to see Nightwing come to life, so they deserve to see him done right. Here are five things the folks at Warner Brothers need to do to give Nightwing his proper justice.
Emphasize His Past as Robin
There is one very important thing that separates Nightwing from other “street level” heroes like Daredevil, Moon Knight, etc. — he’s been at this since he was a kid. The fact that Nightwing was once Robin the Boy Wonder isn’t something that can be glossed over, or just mentioned in a throwaway reference. The notion that he graduated from the world’s most famous junior partner into his own iconic hero is part of what makes Nightwing so unique in the superhero world.
The film should contain plenty of flashbacks to his days as Robin, to fully emphasize how who he used to be directly affects who he is today. Yes, that means that Batman has to play a part in this movie, but there is simply no way to introduce Nightwing without dealing with the Batman issue head on. The trick is to use him in just the right amount, but not enough to overshadow Nightwing himself.
Play Up The Sexy Factor
Female superheroes’ sexuality is emphasized to death in comics and comic book movies, to the point where it’s difficult to find a female hero who hasn’t been overtly sexified at this point. The good or bad of that is the subject of an entirely different article, but one thing is for sure: there are very few male superheroes that are as equally sexually fetishized by female (and gay male) readers.
Yes, ask most comic book fans who are into dudes just who they think is the sexiest of superheroes, and 9 out of 10 times they will say Nightwing. Why is this? Well, it could be because he’s always drawn with a gymnast’s body, instead of looking like a wrestler like so many other comic book heroes, which a lot of people think is much hotter.
And then….there’s that ass. I would say that Nightwing has maybe the most famous male superhero butt in the world, one that is often emphasized by certain female comic book artists like Nicola Scott. Nightwing’s butt is so famous it has several Tumblr blogs dedicated to it. I’m not saying there should be a gratuitous butt shot like in the dreadful Batman and Robin movie, but considering how many times female characters in movies have been positioned for the male gaze…a little fair play is allowed I’d say.
Showcase Dick, The Ladies Man
The ladies love Dick Grayson, and Dick Grayson loves the ladies in return. Unlike his father figure Bruce Wayne, who basically uses women as a cover for his “millionaire playboy” persona with a few rare exceptions, Nightwing actually has dated some of the most prominent women in the DC Universe. He’s had a hot alien girlfriend in the form of Starfire, plus female members of the Bat-family like Barbara “ Batgirl” Gordon and the Huntress. And because he’s not as emotionally damaged as Batman, he can actually form relationships with them. Nightwing is all the coolness of Batman without any of the stuff that makes him a toxic love interest.
Remember That He’s Not Batman
Despite being trained and raised by Batman, one of the most important and endearing characteristics of Dick Grayson is that he’s very much not Batman. Yes, just like the Dark Knight, he lost his parents tragically at a young age, and he’s chosen a life of pursuing criminals as a result. But unlike his broody mentor, Dick Grayson found a way to get past his pain and allow himself to have a fulfilling life. Batman may be a hero… but he’s kind of a dick. Nightwing’s name may be Dick, but he’s actually a nice guy.
More importantly, unlike Batman he’s allowed himself to have a sense of humor. He’s not exactly Spider-Man or Deadpool–meaning he’s not constantly quipping–but he can see the funny in a given situation. And unlike Batman, he can admit that when he’s out kicking bad guy butt, he’s actually having a good time doing it. He wears black and prowls the night, but there is still enough of the kid who dressed in parrot colors left in him to see the funny side of things.
Show Off His Martial Arts Skills
Nightwing isn’t a big bruiser like his mentor, he’s a lean, mean martial arts machine. His fighting style shouldn’t be identical to Batman’s, and should definitely have much more of a martial arts flair to it. Also, before he was ever even Robin, Dick Grayson was an acrobat, and part of the Flying Graysons, meaning that his acrobatic moves are always going to be a part of him, and a part of the way he fights. Another signature of Nightwing’s fighting style is his use of eskrima sticks to knock bad guy skulls in. It just wouldn’t really feel like Nightwing unless he got to use his signature weapons to kick villain ass. And hopefully, one of those bad guys will be none other than Deathstroke, who is really more of a Nightwing villain than a Batman villain on any given day.
What do you think are the key ingredients to a successful Nightwing solo film? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
Images: DC Comics
Here’s the full skinny on the Nightwing movie!
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