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Growing Into It: Bringing Titans' Nightwing Suit to the Screen

Growing Into It: Bringing Titans' Nightwing Suit to...

By Tim Beedle Wednesday, November 27th, 2019

It’s arguably the most anticipated superhero suit to ever hit the small screen. Dick Grayson’s Nightwing outfit has been expected ever since Titans was announced in 2017. Yet, for nearly the entire first two seasons, it’s been conspicuously missing. When Brenton Thwaites’ older, more jaded Grayson made his series premiere, he was still sporting his Robin suit, and continued to wear it for the entire first season before dramatically burning the iconic red and green costume as the season reached its close.

Yet, eager fans soon discovered that their wait was far from over when season two premiered and featured a contemplative, brooding Grayson searching for an identity after putting aside Robin. For twelve episodes, Thwaites has embodied Grayson as a lost and tortured fallen hero looking for atonement. Directionless. Companionless. And yes, suitless.

It’s been a hard go for Nightwing fans, but things are about to change. Dick Grayson will finally don the sleek blue bird in Titans’ season two finale, which hits DC Universe on Friday. The episode, entitled “Nightwing,” rewards viewers for their patience with a thrilling chance to see the suit in action in an exciting confrontation between Grayson and Deathstroke. It’s a moment that’s been anticipated by the show’s producers as much as it has been by fans. But, as Executive Producer Greg Walker was quick to remind us, the waiting is what ultimately makes the debut so fulfilling.

“The question we asked in the writers room is, it’s such a big deal becoming Nightwing and we didn’t just want him to show up with the suit one day,” he explained at a recent event unveiling Grayson’s new suit. “It had to be a representation of where he evolved as a character over the course of those two seasons.

“Season two for him is a journey of recognizing what mistakes he made in the past, assessing himself, trying to figure out his relationship with Bruce and evolving past Robin. When he’s not Robin anymore, then who is he?”

Of course, DC fans know exactly who Dick Grayson is now, but reinvention is never a quick process, at least not when it comes from a place of sincerity and growth. It’s easy to forget now that it’s over thirty years later, but Grayson becoming Nightwing in the pages of New Teen Titans was a huge deal at the time. The Titans writers wanted to make sure it came off that way on their series as well.

“We wanted to have the show be a path towards Nightwing,” Walker revealed. “There’s a personal journey that Dick needed to go on, so he goes on this atonement journey for the last third of the season to try to figure out who he is, what his relationship with heroism is and what his relationship is with the other Titans. We wanted to have Nightwing be the accumulation of that journey—the terminus.”

Like the other suits on Titans, the Nightwing suit was designed by Laura Jean Shannon, who considered the journey that Grayson and the other Titans were on when deciding on its look and feel.

“Each one of our of our shows has a very different voice,” she shared. “Titans has a different voice in the writing and it has a different voice in the storytelling, which then is the impetus for us giving it a different visual voice. So, whatever choices that we bring to the table, the jumping off point is always the actual story itself.”

Many of those choices were drawn from the comics themselves, though perhaps always from the ones you’d expect.

“With all of our characters, our first jumping off point is always to look at every iteration that there has ever been of the character,” revealed visual administrator Jenny Davis-Chen, who played a key role in finding visual references for the suit. “Dick’s story has passed through the hands of so many amazing writers. The priority for us is always to really honor the source material and what each of the different writers and artists had to offer with this character. In particular, we were looking at Dennis O’Neil’s Blüdhaven arc in the late ‘90s in terms of the overall color story for him with the black and the blue. For the actual crest on his chest, we were really referencing the post-Flashpoint, red and black suit in terms of the shape of the bird looking upward, sort of towards the sky.”

In an example of letting the storytelling drive their design choices, the team also built the Nightwing suit to fit Grayson’s growth and evolution as a crimefighter. After all, if Titans’ first two seasons taught us anything, it’s that he’s not the same person he was as Robin.

“He's become much more confident in his fighting ability,” Davis-Chen explained. “So, the priority for him for this suit was increased mobility—being able to move more, being able to have that range of motion in comparison to his Robin suit, which was much more armored up.”

This consideration carried over into the suit’s production, which was carried out by Creative Character Engineering and overseen by owner Andrew Clement.

“We really wanted to make sure that however we generated the pieces, whether they were 3D-printed or whether they were traditionally sculpted, there was a sleekness, contour and a suppleness to it that really lent itself to the character,” he shared.

The fact that the Nightwing suit is a product of both 3D printing and hand sculpting makes it something of an anomaly. With the advent of 3D printing, hand sculpting has become much less common. Yet, the design team felt like a fully printed suit didn’t really fit a hands-on guy like Dick Grayson.

“When we sat down and were talking about how we were going to create this character, we actually decided to take it back, go a little old school, and do actual traditional hand sculpting,” explained Creative Character Engineering’s Lesley Bercerra. “You know, like the way the original Batman suit was made. We had some amazing sculptors that had been in the business for years and probably had hands on sculpting those suits. We also did some really beautiful things with 3D modeling certain armor areas, integrating it into the sculpture, so that you have this kind of high-tech, but old-school, sleek feeling.”

With expectations running so high, fans should rest assured that when they at last see the Nightwing suit come to life on Titans, it’s the result of well over a year of planning, design, testing and manufacturing. In many ways, the suit’s been on as much of a journey as its wearer has.

“It takes months and months to make these things,” Walker shared. “But the proof is in the pudding—when we actually end up seeing it on screen. For me, the most exciting thing as a writer and producer is seeing the characters come to life when they’re in those suits.”


The season finale of Titans debuts Friday on DC Universe. All previous episodes are available for streaming now. Not a DC Universe member? Click here to subscribe.

For more news, articles and features on DC's most dramatic superteam, visit our official TItans page.