Today Netflix announced that Nimona is finally getting its chance on screen. The story, written by ND Stevenson, is about a shapeshifting girl who convinces her best friend/liege lord to pursue greater and and greater glory, set in a science-fantasy medieval land. So how did we get from webcomic to feature film?
The path to release has been... interesting, to say the least. What started out as college-aged Stevenson’s thesis project in 2012 has now become a massively well-received and beloved international comic phenomenon, effectively kickstarting Stevenson’s career and then pushing them past the page and onto the screen as they landed the position of showrunner of Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power.
After it became clear that Nimona, the self-published webcomic, was a hit, traditional publishing came knocking in 2014. The full comic is indexed in a complete edition from Harper Collins. io9 actually revealed the cover to Nimona the graphic novel back in 2014. You can check that out if you want to read an old interview with Stevenson, where he goes into detail about the creation of the character and, at the end of the interview, even mentions that he “would love” an animated film.
Fox came around not much later. In 2015 the first announcement for the Nimona film adaption was released. But there were some delays in production, and in 2019 Disney acquired Fox and Blue Sky Studios, which was the animation room where Nimona was being worked on. The film was pushed from February 2020 to March 2021, and then to January 2022. Then, in February of 2021, Disney announced that it would be shuttering Blue Sky Studios, and Nimona was being shelved, despite production saying that it was “75%” done with the film. Staffers also said that Disney execs pushed them to eliminate a gay kiss in the film, which came to light after backlash from Disney’s response to the “Don’t Say Gay” bill in Florida.
Some of that footage was given to io9 via an anonymous tip. You can see the 42-second clip below.
This might have been the only part of Nimona to ever see the light of day, except that today Netflix announced that it would be releasing the film. Annapurna, the production company behind Missing Link, will be finishing the film.
It’s not clear how much of this footage will be used in the upcoming film, but the color palette and background visible in part of the footage matches the single shot revealed on Stevenson and Netflix’s twitter posts with the announcement from this morning. We see a lot of test footage of Lord Ballister Blackheart, who is, ostensibly, the narrator of this story; he watches his sidekick Nimona as she encourages him to fight against the evil university who did Blackheart wrong. Blackheart will be voiced by Riz Ahmed, and Chloë Grace Moretz will voice Nimona.
Also notable is the new design for Ambrosious Goldenloin, whose hair and facial features have been drastically changed beyond the simplified character design of the webcomic. This indicates that even in 2020, when this film was being developed, the production always intended to make Goldenloin a man of Asian descent. Goldenloin will be voiced by Eugene Yang. And now? Now we get to watch the whole film. And I know it’s going to be incredible. Nimona will be available on Netflix in 2023.
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