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The prospect of a Chris McKay-directed solo movie for Nightwing is exciting for several reasons, but one of the most exciting of the bunch is the way in which we view action scenes. We've seen violent vigilante stories before, but Dick Grayson's lean and agile physicality is a far cry from the muscle-bound power of a guy like Batman. In fact, I recently had a chance to talk to McKay about his plans for the film during a discussion about The LEGO Ninjago Movie, and he promised that the project's stunt work will earn it an Academy Award. I know, that's a tall order, but McKay said:
It's going to be unlike any other sort of superhero movie because it's not gonna rely on a lot of CG. This movie is going to win a stunt Academy Award. They're going to make a stunt Academy Award for this movie. I guarantee it. It's going to be insane.
If any major DC superhero is going to compel the Academy to create an entirely new category devoted to stunt work, then Nightwing would definitely be the one to do it. By his very nature, Dick Grayson is a character whose fights and physical abilities are defined by his acrobatic training, as well as his formative years as a performer in Haly's Circus. To that end, certain Batman storylines have even suggested that Bruce Wayne had his eyes on Dick for recruitment before the deaths of the Flying Graysons specifically because of Dick's almost inhuman knack for acrobatics.
The action sequences focusing on his unique skill set wouldn't require much CGI, but they would force a team of stunt performers to dig deep and maximize the character's agility with flips, jumps, kicks and every other move that you would expect from an Olympic-level athlete. Take the warehouse fight from Batman v Superman as an example. Instead of the heavy punches thrown by Ben Affleck's Batman, a Nightwing version of the fight would feature far flashier moves that reflect his speed, as well as his natural instincts as a performer.
One look at Nightwing's comic book panels sells this idea even further. Artwork showing his movement is typically incredibly kinetic, with several images layered into a single panel to showcase his speed and agility.
There's already a growing section of the moviegoing community (insiders and outsiders alike) that would love to see an entire stunt category created at the Academy Awards. Even with the advances in CGI, the last few years saw a massive surge in the quality of stunt work, as franchises like Mission: Impossible and John Wick have continuously upped the ante in the world of stunts and fight scenes. As a result, many have started to rethink the legitimacy of stunts and call for their acknowledgment on Hollywood's biggest night. If Nightwing can deliver on Chris McKay's promise, then it may be the film to break that glass ceiling and bring stunt work into the prestigious Oscar realm.
If we are to take Chris McKay at his word, then our anticipation for the Nightwing solo movie just increased significantly -- and it will likely only continue to increase when his former mentor makes his next appearance in the DCEU, as Batman will be back in action when Justice League arrives in theaters on November 17.