The key to revitalizing the live-action Batman movie franchise has always been hidden in plain sight.
And with the Hollywood Reporter revealing that “The Lego Batman” director Chris McKay is in negotiations to direct a live-action Nightwing movie, it looks like WB/DC has realized it is finally time to embrace the legacy of Robin the Boy Wonder.
Nightwing, of course, is DC Comics royalty. Under the mask he’s Dick Grayson, the first (and perhaps most popular) Robin the Boy Wonder to fight crime alongside Batman in multiple series. He’s a founding member of the Teen Titans, fighting alongside other high profile young DC heroes such as Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Speedy and Cyborg during their youth.
Perhaps Dick Grayson’s most well-known comic-book moment is when he made the adult move to hang up his circus-inspired red, green and yellow Robin suit and create a new vigilante identity for himself, becoming Nightwing and letting it be known that Batman wasn’t in charge of his superhero life anymore.
From the moment it was revealed in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” that a Robin suit vandalized by the Joker hung in the batcave as a memorial to a fallen sidekick, many fans have wondered if WB/DC’s connected, live-action movie universe would give them even more of Robin. Those who have read the comics know that the Robin killed by the Joker was actually Jason Todd, who became Robin after Grayson moved to become Nightwing — thereby implying that Nightwing exists in this DC universe (Todd years later would come back to life as the Red Hood — another great movie idea just sitting there waiting to be adapted).
McKay negotiating for a live-action Nightwing movie would seem to confirm that Dick Grayson did indeed have his time fighting alongside Batman in this current universe before growing up and moving on.
Could you imagine how geeked-up fans would be if Jason Todd came back to life to become the Red Hood in the Nightwing movie, using lethal force as a vigilante (a big no-no in Batman’s rulebook, and something Nightwing abides by) and Nightwing had to stop him, before setting the Red Hood on a more positive path that would lead to his own movie franchise? That’s wishful fanboy thinking for now, but it’s a possibility.
WB and DC have shied away from embracing any of the Robins, Grayson, Todd, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne (the son of Batman) for too long, but it’s not entirely their fault.
During the gazillion dollar success story that was Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight” trilogy, Nolan made it clear Robin wasn’t a character that would fit into his realistic take on Batman. The closest thing to a Boy Wonder appearance Nolan gave to fans was Joseph Gordon Levitt’s John Blake in “The Dark Knight Rises.” He inherited the bat-cave and the mantle of Batman from Bruce Wayne and was revealed to be legally named Robin.
But we are now in a new age when it comes to DC Comics on film. Critical praise be damned, DC and WB are trying their best to build a connected movie universe that embraces the existence of super-strong Kryptonians and Amazons and the formation of the Justice League. That’s a movie universe where Robin, Nightwing, the Red Hood, any Batman sidekick, should have no trouble existing in.
McKay’s involvement should bring a smile to Nightwing fans. He currently has a universally-praised Batman movie, and despite the kiddie feel of Legos being involved, “The Lego Batman Movie” proved beyond a shadow of a bat that McKay has his finger on the pulse of what makes Batman cool, giving Batman fans a movie with tons of geektastic Easter eggs that lets them know he’s the right guy to make a Nightwing movie happen.
Combine the Nightwing/McKay possibilities with the news that Matt Reeves was finally signed to direct the next solo Batman movie, and Ben Affleck tweeting out batcave welcomes to Reeves, calming fanboy fires that suggest Affleck may want out of the bat-franchise, and for the first time in a longtime, WB/DC can sit back and enjoy some positive press buzz for an upcoming project.
— Ben Affleck (@BenAffleck) February 24, 2017
Happy bat-movie feelings have been few and far between and long overdue. Time will tell if Nightwing was the hero Batman needed all along.