With Chris McKay in talks to direct the Dungeons & Dragons movie, his DCEU Nightwing film could be facing a significant delay. It’s been almost exactly one year since it was first announced that McKay would be helming Dick Grayson's first live-action solo movie. The project’s initial development phase hasn’t exactly been speedy; we still don't know when the film will be released or who will star in it, nor do we have any indications on what it will be about. And as of two weeks ago, the script hadn't actually been turned into the studio yet. McKay has long maintained that he and screenwriter Bill Dubuque were taking things slow in order to get it right, but recent reports indicate that fans may have to wait far longer than expected for Nightwing to arrive in theaters.
The most recent rumors regarding the DCEU’s upcoming film slate seemed to indicate that the Nightwing solo movie was pretty high up on the priority list for Warner Bros. That's why the recent news that McKay may sign on to helm the upcoming Dungeons & Dragons movie comes as a pretty major shock. While Nightwing was never given an official release date, pre-production was set to begin sometime this year, barring any script issues. That would've put Dick Grayson on schedule to hit the big screen somewhere between late 2019 and...well, sometime in 2020. Paramount, however, just set D&D's release date for July 2021, which means that if McKay signs on to direct, a scheduling conflict will likely emerge.
But on top of Variety's scoop that McKay may direct D&D, The Tracking Board is now reporting that Nightwing isn't as far up on the DCEU priority list as we thought. The site's Editor in chief Jeff Sneider puts it pretty plainly: "Of all the projects in development at DC Films, the NIGHTWING movie is towards the back of the line." If rumors hold true (and this is a big if) and McKay is looking to direct both Nightwing and D&D, we have to imagine that one of them will be arriving much later than expected. And unfortunately for DC fans, it's looking like Nightwing would draw the short stick in that scenario.
Nightwing may not hit theaters for another 5 years
Simply put: if McKay does indeed agree to direct D&D (again, that's a mighty big if at this point), it's highly unlikely that he'd be able to complete Nightwing before he had to start work on all those dungeons and dragons. That's simply too much to ask from a director who's never helmed a live-action Hollywood movie before, and given his previous statements about not wanting to be cornered into unreachable release dates, it just doesn't sound like a move he'd make.
If McKay is considering signing on to direct D&D -- a fantasy film that will require a bunch of prep work and even more time in post-production to iron out the necessary digital effects -- it's because he knows he has an open slot in his schedule. The recent reports regarding Nightwing's place on the DCEU food chain would seem to confirm as much. Aquaman, Shazam, and Wonder Woman 2 are all we expect from DC's shared universe in 2018 and 2019, and The Batman, Suicide Squad 2, Flashpoint, and Todd Phillips' Joker movie are among the litany of projects that are on deck after that. Warner Bros. has a ton on its plate as it is, so they probably wouldn't be too upset over the idea of waiting until the time is right for Nightwing.
So when should fans expect Nightwing if McKay ends up making D&D first? Well, if Paramount sticks to their July 2021 release date, Dick Grayson won't be gracing the big screen until late 2022 at the earliest. 2023 would probably be the safer bet. Then again, movie schedules aren't exactly the most ironclad things in the world.
Could Dungeons & Dragons be bumped back instead?
As DCEU fans know all too well, movie release dates are often subject to change. Between script rewrites, actors/directors' schedules, and various other factors that cause production delays, designated release dates are far from a concrete thing. So even if McKay signs on for D&D, it's entirely possible that Paramount will shift its release date back by a year or two to accommodate his schedule. They can't be too attached to it, since they just claimed the July 2021 slot a few weeks ago. If Paramount is convinced that McKay is the man for the job, D&D could be delayed.
Keep in mind, however, that Paramount was the studio that refused to allow Henry Cavill to shave his mustache for the Justice League reshoots because he was filming Mission: Impossible - Fallout for them at the time. They're not out to do Warner Bros. any favors.
One last thing to keep in mind: as of now, this is all simply a hypothetical based on rumors and early negotiations. McKay could very well end up passing on D&D altogether, and the Nightwing movie would be right back where it was yesterday, no harm, no foul. We'll keep you updated with any developments, but in the meantime, be sure to sound off with your thoughts in the comments.
- Dungeons & Dragons (2021) release date: Jul 23, 2021
- Nightwing release date: Sep 19, 2018