For fans of Nightwing, the erstwhile first Robin, it has a long wait to see him portrayed in a live action setting. Even with the tease at the end of The Dark Knight Rises where Joseph Gordon-Levitt assumes the mantle as “Robin” and the missed opportunity of a possible appearance in the deservedly short-lived series, Birds of Prey, Dick Grayson has never paroled TV or movie screens under his own sigil. One group of fans refused to wait any longer.
In Feb 2013, Team Ismahawk partnered with MG Studios to launch a Kickstarter campaign with the goal of producing Nightwing’s live action debut. With 923 backers generating nearly $35,000, five episodes were created comprising season one of Nightwing: The Series. Though armed with a limited budget, these guys still had a fairly grand vision. What they managed to accomplish is actually downright impressive.
The series has a good look to it, consistent with CW’s Arrow, only with cooler tech. Dick has one of those projected display computers like out of Iron Man. No live action Batman has even had one of those. They also got good production value out of most of their locations. The only questionable one is in the first episode where a mayoral ball takes place in what looks like a gymnasium.
The fight scenes are mostly good with Deathstroke/Slade Wilson using a gun a little more liberally than what we’re accustomed. However, for the story, this fits nicely with his damaged personality. His fights with Nightwing are fantastic in how they highlight Dick’s acrobatic background and give Deathstroke a chance to show off his sword skills. Speaking of, the weapon props are excellent as Slade’s blade is not your typical katana but something lighter, serrated, and menacing. Nightwing’s classic double batons clanging against the sword is the main thing to love about the show. Whatever limitations the action might have are covered with lovely angles and quick hit editing that make the fights lightning quick.
The score is a triumphant five-and-a-half minute suite by John Scigulinsky that does a fine job of fitting into the milieu of much of great music done for DC’s animated films by the likes of Christopher Drake. The acting could be better and the story suffers from thinking too big. This is understandable, though, since this was a passion project that may give the crew only one shot at the apple. It makes perfect sense that they would try to pack as much as humanly possibly into less than an hour of screen time. But, just in case they might get another season, they even tease Nightwing’s next nemesis and someone who has never been represented in live action either.
Nightwing: The Series is fanboy’s dream come to life. With trying to go so big in a short time, the story, direction, and emotion were a bit compromised. But unlike some of the CW/WB projects for DC Comics, this show doesn’t lack for ambition. It’s easier to admire Ismahawk for shooting for the moon than to play it safe. They showed what they could do with very little. If they had better support, there is no doubt that they could make something epic. We’ll see if that’s the case if a new Kickstarter opens for Season Two.