Batman: Nightwing is a short film produced, directed by, and starring Danny Shepherd in the title role. While Talia Martinez plays Oracle and Bilal Young is the Red Hood. The film is five minutes long and tells the story of Nightwing, while Bruce and Tim dealing with Bane, has been sent to investigate a series of murders. Upon arriving at the scene of the crime Nightwing is ambushed by the Red Hood and a fight ensues.
Bilal Young as the Red Hood is fantastic. His Jason Todd is one that exudes menace, confidence and a lot of anger. He also produces this without chewing any of the scenery, which can be tempting when playing such a dark villain. His performance is perfectly complimented by the script that seems to give him the best lines, and for me is the character most true to that of the comics.
Where the film starts to have problems, however, is in the performances given by Martinez as Oracle and Sheppard as Nightwing. While Martinez is a perfect dead ringer for Oracle, she seems to struggle to deliver the lines she is given with anything beyond vague concern. Perhaps that is just this old comic book reader’s problem; there is not a doubt that she is a very talented actress. However if you are going to base something off of already established characters then you need to take some of that history with you. Oracle deeply cares about Dick and they have a long relationship. And that is something as a fan I need to see. However I do not believe that Oracle does care at all about Dick in this film.
Danny Shepherd, however, is by far the weakest of the three. In a character that in the comics and in numerous television series is shown as a confident and cocky. From Shepherd we get nothing of the sort. Instead we are treated instead to a faltering and unsure figure. The opening scene with the Red Hood is a good example. In which we get several umms and errs from the character. While it could be argued that this is adding realism to the scene. It seems instead to either suggest Dick is not that confident, something that is not in character or Shepherd forgot his lines.
Where Danny Shepherd does excel is in his cinematography. All of the shots are deeply ingrained with detail and lovingly framed. The opening scenes are a perfect example of this, with the motorbike shooting across town creating action and drawing you into this film from the start. The underground garage, where the fight between Dick and Jason takes place, is another example of this. It feels grimy and the kind of place where, if they were real, these characters would fight.
Overall this film does have its faults, questionable plot moments and some rather poor acting. But I feel that it could have been much longer and it still would have been enjoyable. Young steals the scenes and makes it worth watching just for him. The cinematography is one of the highest standards I have seen in a fan made film. Which shows just where Danny Shepherds talents, and probably his passion, lie as shown by the same high standards on his other films. It is most certainly enjoyable and hopefully will see a longer version put out, or a follow up.