– by David Kozlowski

Producer and director Chris McKay (Robot Chicken) is not afraid to offer strong opinions about Warner Bros., the DCEU, and filmmaking in-general as he prepares to move into production on the highly-anticipated, but mostly-secretive, DC Comics’ Nightwing movie. McKay’s career largely entailed animation, shorts, and TV before he directed The LEGO Batman Movie (2017), which hauled-in an impressive $312 million worldwide.

Now McKay’s getting a shot at a live-action superhero film, but he’s got the double burdens of introducing audiences to a grown-up Robin, and somehow fitting the movie into the DCEU at a time where the status of Batman and the future of the connected-universe remains a bit shaky.

Related – Director Chris McKay Is Passionate About Nightwing

Speaking with Metro, McKay explains that he’s a student of the genre and describes what he sees as clear differences between the Marvel and DC approaches. At the heart of it, he cites the WB tradition of director-led projects are the key to his (and future DC films) successes:

“Warner Bros is a more director-driven studio. Period. The end. More than any other studio you’re ever going to work at. Just look at the roster of world class filmmakers that have worked at Warner Bros and made it their home. Warner Bros is a director-driven studio.”

Much of McKay’s time on Robot Chicken was spent roasting DC Comics (in a good way)!

McKay explains that he and the other DC directors are attacking each project as “wholly original” and “wholly unique,” rather than adhering to formula, or forcing the films to fit an larger, ongoing narrative. However, he also believes that WB and DC are committed to building a sustainable product:

“It takes a lot of time and a lot of people banging their heads together trying to figure out what to do. Because it’s hard. It’s hard to get all these people, and all these egos, and all this stuff in one place and get it all to work out. But they are committed to that, and that’s what’s amazing about working with Jon [Berg] and Geoff [Johns].”

While McKay doesn’t have a ton of directing experience, he definitely has the right mindset, and he’s got some intense love for this character. Nightwing is a really interesting property, he can be the daytime Batman, if you will, with a major focus on fun, humor, and optimism as counterpoint to the eternally-brooding Dark Knight. McKay clearly knows comedy from his Robot Chicken work, which constantly skewered DC characters, Batman and Robin/Nightwing, in particular. Combining the acrobatics, Kali/Escrima martial arts, and positive energy of Nightwing could prove to be the right antidote to DC’s frowny superhero slate (seriously, everyone scowls in the Justice League promos).

Do you think that Nightwing should be an active part of the DCEU or focus on being a stand-alone superhero film instead? Let us know in the comments down below!

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David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.