Warner Bros. has had a pretty big week in terms of news, not only confirming that The Batman has a new director in Matt Reeves, but also dropping the surprise announcement that a Nightwing movie is in the works. In fact, it already has a director attached, with The LEGO Batman Movie’s Chris McKay signed on to bring the acrobatic vigilante to a live-action film for the first time.
Anyone familiar with DC Comics knows that Nightwing, otherwise known as Dick Grayson is essentially the cooler, slightly darker version of Robin, which makes sense considering Grayson was the original Robin. Nightwing operates similarly to Batman in that he likes to go it alone, but he frequently teams up with the Dark Knight and other members of the Bat-family, which opens the door for a variety of potential cameos in McKay’s film. Still, a Nightwing movie isn’t going to work if Warner Bros. doesn’t find the right actor to anchor the whole thing and given that the studio hasn’t cast the role yet, things are wide open in the speculation department. Pretty much any actor in the 25-40 age bracket could potentially fit the bill, but we’ve narrowed the list of candidates down to ten actors we feel could do the character justice.
Here are the actors we’d love to see portray Nightwing on the big screen.
10. Joseph Gordon-Levitt
How could we not include Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who portrayed Dick Grayson in everything but name in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises. The ending of that film teased Gordon-Levitt’s character John Blake, whose birth name was Robin, assuming the mantle of Batman after finding the Batcave, but he just as easily could have assumed the alter-ego Nightwing. Unfortunately, with Warner Bros. moving ahead with an all-new shared universe after the conclusion of Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, we never got to see what Gordon-Levitt’s “Nightwing” looked like, but there’s still an opportunity for the studio to set things right. Sure, it may be a bit weird at first to see the actor essentially play the same character but in a different film universe, but JGL is such a talented and charismatic actor that he should definitely still be given a shot at the part, assuming the studio is looking to cast someone in the their mid-to-late 30s.
9. Kit Harington
For an actor better known for his TV work than his movie roles, Kit Harington sure feels like a big movie star. This probably has something to do with the fact that he stars in Game of Thrones, probably the most cinematic TV series ever made, but it’s also because Harington is a captivating screen presence. Although he’s not the best actor around when it comes to raw talent, Harington knows his way around a dramatic scene and the physicality demanded by his role as Jon Snow would lend itself well to a role like Nightwing, which is sure to involve a ton of stunt work. And at 30-years-old, Harington is at the perfect age to play a Nightwing who is too old to still be Robin, yet has only been operating on his own for a few years or less. Unfortunately, he’d have to trim the hair and beard, which probably won’t go over well for many of his female fans.
8. Jared Padalecki
Jared Padalecki, best known for his long-running stint on Supernatural as Sam Winchester, could convincingly play many a superhero, including Nightwing. Standing 6’4″ tall, Padalecki would be able to convincingly stand (literally) on the same level as the 6’3″ Ben Affleck, which would be an asset if Warner Bros. is looking for a Nightwing a bit more on the physically-imposing side. At 35, he’s admittedly a bit on the older side for the character, but that wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the studio is looking to portray Nightwing as a veteran with years of experience under his belt. That hair would probably have to go, though (unless WB is going for the long-haired look, of course).
7. Steven Yeun
Casting a Korean actor as a character who is traditionally Caucasian would definitely rile up the racist contingent of DC fans out there, but that should dissuade Warner Bros. from actively pursuing Yeun to play Nightwing, as is an all-around great choice for the role. Best known for playing Glenn on The Walking Dead, Yeun has the right build to play an athletic superhero such as Nightwing and most importantly, has proven himself to be adept at playing a character who can transition easily between lighthearted charm and darker attitude, which are traits that would serve him well as Dick Grayson. At 33 and still retaining his boyish looks, Yeun could easily play a younger or more seasoned Nightwing depending on what the film calls for.
6. Ben Barnes
The 36-year-old Ben Barnes may not be the most obvious Nightwing pick from a physicality perspective, but he undoubtedly has the look of a veteran Dick Grayson. Getting his start in musical theatre, Barnes has quietly built an impressive film and TV career since landing the title role in 2008’s The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. More recently, Barnes had a sizable role in the first season of HBO’s Westworld as the dastardly Logan, so he’s definitely an actor who has experience playing heroic characters and darker ones, which could serve him well if he were to play a darker hero like Nightwing. Interestingly, Barnes is set to play the Marvel Comics villain Jigsaw in the upcoming Netflix series The Punisher, so it would be interesting to see him switch sides and play a hero in the DC universe.
5. Freddie Highmore
At 25, Freddie Highmore admittedly may be better suited to play Robin than Nightwing, but he’s such a talented young actor that we can’t help but wonder what he might do if given the opportunity to play the latter. Highmore got his as a younger actor with roles in films like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Spiderwick Chronicles, but it’s his role as a young Norman Bates in the critically-acclaimed series Bates Motel that represents his best acting work to date. Highmore excels at playing a creepy, disturbed young man in that series and while we’re not advocating for Nightwing to be characterized as some sort of psychotic lunatic, Highmore’s experience with more dramatic content would be an asset for a role that will demand acting chops in addition to physical prowess.
4. Bob Morley
Best known for his current role as Bellamy Blake on CW’s The 100, Bob Morley has proven himself to be a charismatic male lead who could anchor his own superhero film. Morley certainly has the build to pull off a convincing Dick Grayson, as well as the look, but the question of course is whether he could share the screen convincingly with someone with as much star power as Ben Affleck. We feel that he could and not knowing how much time he last left on The 100 (characters tend to die a lot on that show), landing the Nightwing part would be a great opportunity for Morely to launch a film career. It also helps that he’s still a relative unknown, in case Warner Bros. is looking for someone a little less recognizable for the role.
3. Dylan O’Brien
If there’s any actor who realistically may already be on Warner Bros.’ radar to play Nightwing, it’s Dylan O’Brien. Young, slim, and possessing features that bare resemblance to how Dick Grayson is often portrayed in the comics, O’Brien is an actor who seems destined to play a superhero at some point in his life, so it might as well be now. Best known for the Maze Runner movies, as well as the Teen Wolf TV series, O’Brien has proven himself capable of anchoring an action-heavy blockbuster and it would not at all be surprising to see him on WB’s shortlist once they start trying to cast the part.
2. Taron Egerton
Although he’s already involved with another comic book adaptation in the Kingsman series, there’s no reason Taron Egerton couldn’t make the jump to the DC Extended Universe. Egerton’s breakout role in the original Kingsman not only gave him the chance to shine as a leading man, but also highlighted his physicality, both of which would serve him well as Nightwing. At 5’9″, Egerton is a bit on the short side for a superhero, but that might actually be to his benefit for a character like Nightwing, who relies more on his acrobatic prowess than a physically-imposing stature in his crime-fighting exploits. Really though, we just want to see how Egerton makes out in a blockbuster franchise besides Kingsman, as he is still a bit of an up-and-coming male lead and deserves more work.
1. Stephen R. McQueen
Known primarily for his television work on series such as The Vampire Diaries and Chicago Fire, Stephen R. McQueen is an actor who has already voiced his interest in playing Batman’s former sidekick on multiple occasions. His interest was first sparked a few years ago when TNT was looking to cast the part on Titans, a live-action series based on the Teen Titans comic books. After that plan was scrapped, McQueen suggested, half-jokingly, that he could always play the character on The CW’s Arrow, so it’s clear that Nightwing is a character the actor is passionate about. Plus, it helps that a graphic artist by the name of BossLogic has already drawn up a concept of what McQueen might look like as the character, stating on Twitter that “Since Nightwing is back on the table my choice is still Steven R. McQueen.” We would not be opposed to this choice!