“It becomes a revenge movie and it’d be an introduction to Nightwing and the world of Blüdhaven. There was going to be a lot of villains.”
That’s what LEGO Batman director Chris McKay revealed in an exclusive interview with The Bear Cave to promote this fantastic new film, The Tomorrow War.
That line alone gets me excited about what McKay and screenwriter Bill Dubuque (Ozark, The Accountant) were planning to do with the character of Dick Grayson, and we would’ve seen the break-up of his relationship with Bruce Wayne/Batman.
“It was going to be a real, it was going to be a character study about this guy who grew up with sort of a bad dad,” McKay states. “How that made him as a young adult try to fight off and go as far away from that world as humanly possible and get dragged back into it.”
This was always my hope because one of the best episodes (of many) of Batman: The Animated Series was Old Wounds, where Dick talks to his Robin successor Jason Todd about his strained relationship with his former mentor.
In some kinda way, Nightwing would’ve played in the coming-of-age genre that hasn’t really been touched unless you count Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man or The Amazing Spider-Man films.
Let’s rewind a bit, in case you didn’t know or in the past couple of weeks just learnt, in 2017 it was revealed Warner Bros were working on a Nightwing movie and hired McKay, who just smashed it with his debut feature, The LEGO Batman Movie, and he explains how that came about.
“They’ve (Warner Bros) had been working on a script before I came along. So DC had hired Bill Dubuque to write a version of Nightwing, and I came in while that script was in the process and that draft hadn’t quite landed yet, but landed after I got hired,” said McKay.
“So I took that draft with some thoughts I had as far as theme and the overall genre. There were some things I wanted to combined and built a trailer and never got the chance to finish it.
“It’s instructive to some of the things we were going to do with the movie and also what DC has embraced since then is probably the best why I can describe it.”
If the trailer thing sounds familiar, it’s because Cathy Yan did the same thing when pitching Birds of Prey to the studio, but it’s a shame he was never able to finish his trailer. Maybe if he’s got some downtime soon Chris should and leak it.
If you thought the budget could’ve been for the hold-up early on, it couldn’t have as “It wasn’t going to be a big budget movie, it was going to be under $100 million.”
Throughout this section of the interview, McKay was understandably hesitant to say too much, and for a good reason, as fans can keep hope.
“The reason why I’m hesitating because right now today (Friday 18th June), no one has told me we’re not making that movie. It’s just right now; they have other priorities.
“That’s the point of view Warner Bros are coming from and obviously a lot of things, a lot of their plans have had to change and change again. They’ve gone through a lot of stuff, and when I was brought in to Nightwing, they were in the process of doing Matt Reeves’ The Batman, so he was starting his thing there.
“So to me, I still hold out a lot of hope I’m still going to make that movie. Maybe that’s wishful thinking, but certainly no one has said “hey kid, you’re not making that movie.” In fact, if anything they’ve said “today we’re not prioritising that movie,” but they still want to make a Nightwing movie something I think is still important to them.”
So we should keep hope, and with the new Warner Bros/Discovery merger next year, Chris’ talent and passion for this character and project will be rewarded.
Finally, a big question still surrounding the film, especially in light of Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the Restore The Snyderverse hashtag, is would this Nightwing film connected to Ben Affleck’s Batman or been a standalone adventure.
“There was still some stuff that was needed to be determind of what that was going to look like.” McKay elegantly tiptoeing around the question but did say Batman didn’t loom large over the story.
It was “a Nightwing movie it was like you were picking up a Nightwing comic. You’re not guaranteed Batman was going to show up, but he could show up and other people could show up, but again you’re dealing with Nightwing and that’s what I like about it,” the filmmaker said.
My feeling is in the early years, we might’ve seen Affleck show up, but as projected rolled on and the studio was developing The Batman with Matt Reeves, it became more of a standalone.
As McKay says, “I like the idea of we don’t neccurssery connect to certain things, we can just have it be a story that takes place in Blüdhaven or with Dick Grayson and his world. How he became Nightwing and why be became Nightwing there was a lot of stuff I liked about the approach.”
The one massive thing I’ve learnt is McKay LOVES Dick Grayson and LOVES the progression of the character’s journey from Wayne’s ward to becoming his own man and his own hero. Nightwing is a top tier character, and the fact WB/DC still want to do something with him says a lot.
Let me know what you think. Does this make you more interested in a Nightwing film?