DC’s fledgling Extended Universe of films has some bold plans for the coming years, expanding the Suicide Squad franchise, while introducing a handful of brand new heroes. It’s their most recent addition that has us most intrigued though. Warner/DC unveiled plans to feature a full-on standalone Nightwing movie, as they continue to renew their commitment to create a Batman-centric movieverse. But who exactly is Nightwing, and why is he so damn important?
1. Nightwing was the original Robin
Before he was ever Nightwing, Dick Grayson was the first character to ever don the mantle of Batman’s sidekick, Robin. More than that, he’s the version of Robin that fans are most familiar with, both in comics and in TV and movies.
As a young man, Grayson was adopted by Bruce Wayne following the death of his family at the hands of a mafia boss, later going on to break the Dark Knight of his broody “I work alone” philosophy.
2. He’s mastered more than a dozen different forms of martial arts
Nightwing had the best education available to a young superhero, learning to hone his skills in his early days with Batman. Since then, he’s mastered everything from Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu to Muay Thai, with fighting abilities that rival even those of his old mentor. He’s also fluent in nine separate languages, is a master of escapology, and inherited a considerable fortune following the death of his parents.
3. Why he left Batman to strike out on his own
It can be tough living in Batman’s shadow as an aspiring superhero. After a 17-year-old Dick Grayson was shot through the shoulder by the Joker though, Bruce Wayne sought to effectively end Robin’s days of crimefighting, fearing for his young ward’s life. Soon after that, Grayson decided to make his own way in the world, donning the mantle of Nightwing and becoming his own man, separate from his former mentor.
4. He’s the leader of the Teen Titans
Part of separating himself from Bruce Wayne came in the form of leading the Teen Titans, who protect Jump City. Eventually, Dick Grayson marries fellow Titan, Starfire, while forming close personal bonds with the rest of his team members. In fact, the first time he ever donned the mantle of Nightwing was in the 1984 issue of the Teen Titans comic book, forever solidifying his place as the team’s de facto leader.
5. He’s temporarily filled in as Batman on multiple occasions
Following the events of the Knightfall comic book series, Dick Grayson set aside his Nightwing mantle, and filled in for Bruce Wayne as Batman while Wayne recovered from injuries suffered in an encounter with Bane. Grayson has made a habit of being the go-to replacement for Batman whenever needed too, as a hero whose skills closely resemble those of the Dark Knight.
6. Blüdhaven’s protector
Just as Batman is indelibly linked to Gotham City, so too is Nightwing most known as the primary protector of Blüdhaven, which is located less than hour’s drive away from Gotham City. Dick Grayson first arrived in the city with Batman, as part of an investigation into a string of mysterious murders. He later chose to remain there indefinitely, looking to establish himself apart from both Batman and the Teen Titans, and acting as Blüdhaven’s main hero.
7. Superman was the first Nightwing
Interestingly enough, the first hero to ever don the Nightwing name in the DC universe was Superman. In the 1963 issue titled “Superman in Kandor,” the Man of Steel is stranded with Jimmy Olsen on an alien planet sans his powers. Drawing inspiration from Batman and Robin back on Earth, he and Olsen fight crime under the names of two Kandorian birds, Nightwing and Flamebird, respectively.
Batman and Robin later lend an assist to the duo on Kandor, inspiring Dick Grayson to take the Nightwing name for himself years later.
8. Nightwing was originally slated to get killed off
DC’s Infinite Crisis series is one of the publisher’s most famous storylines, culminating in a climactic battle in Metropolis that claims the life of Superboy. Originally though, the plan was to have Nightwing die from injuries suffered in a battle with Lex Luthor’s son Alex.
DC head, Geoff Johns stepped in to alter those plans, as someone who “was vehemently opposed to killing Nightwing.”
9. Other characters who’ve taken on the Nightwing name
As it is with most comic book heroes, there’s more than one character who’s taken on the name of Nightwing. Outside of Superman being the original version of Nightwing, DC’s had Jason Todd (also a former Robin) protect New York City under that name with an identical costume.
Power Girl and Super Girl were also featured as Nightwing and Flamebird in an arc taking place back on Kandor. In addition, General Zod’s son, Chris Kent, donned the Nightwing identity.
10. The rest of the Batman Family
Batman and Robin may be the most recognizable duo in DC’s universe, but Dick Grayson isn’t the only member of the ever-growing Bat Family. Bruce Wayne has taken on multiple wards as Robin, including Jason Todd, Tim Drake, and his son, Damian Wayne. Additionally, Barbara Gordon took on the Batgirl name until the Joker paralyzed her from the waist down in The Killing Joke. The rest of the Bat Family is expansive, including a cadre of pets, sidekicks, and of course, Bruce Wayne’s loyal butler, Alfred Pennyworth.
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