The opinions represented in this article are the author’s own and do not reflect those of NextShark.
When the announcement for a live-action Nightwing film adaptation surfaced online, a clamor to have the male lead played by a person of color immediately followed.
The DC character’s inclusion to the DC Extended Universe has stirred such excitement among fans that social media has been flooded with suggestions on who should best portray Dick Grayson on the big screen, Inverse reports.
Many fans have already cast their choice — “The Walking Dead” alumnus Steven Yeun. In fact, rumors on Yeun’s possible involvement in the film have been stoked since last year when the Batman solo film starring Ben Affleck was announced.
As one extremely talented actor, there is absolutely no doubt Yeun would slay in the role. A lead Asian DC superhero would also be a massive boost for Asian-American representation in Hollywood — an issue that has been ignored for too long.
However, as amazing as it would be to have Grayson be Asian in the film, there is still a price to be paid — it would still betray Nightwing’s true racial identity by having one underrepresented minority seizing an opportunity for recognition at the expense of an even smaller minority that has been historically persecuted.
While Nightwing has always been played by a Caucasian actor in his many iterations in animated films, the character has always been described as half-Romani in the comics. The Romani people, a nomadic ethnic group that originated from the Indian subcontinent, can now be found in Europe and the Americas where they are typically branded as “gypsies”. During World War II, the Romani people were among the many ethnic groups who were systematically targeted for extermination along with Jews, homosexuals, and the disabled after being deemed biologically inferior.
DC Comic fans also cried whitewashing when Nightwing’s ethnicity was suddenly lost after the status quo-altering “Flashpoint” event in the DC Universe.
It would be a symbolic victory for all Asian minorities if a man like Steven Yeun were cast as Nightwing, but the issue of the character’s true racial identity and the real-world struggles of the Romani people should never be ignored for the sake of authenticity to the character and representation for the Romani people.
Any minority seeking ethnic equality and just representation shouldn’t advance themselves by pushing another minority down. It would speak for true equality for Asians to make an argument for another ethnic minority that virtually has no voice.
The upcoming Nightwing project is currently being written by Bill Dubuque with “The LEGO Batman Movie” director Chris McKay in negotiations to helm.