The fallout of Disney’s purchase of FOX continues to be seen across animation. The closure of Blue Sky studios lead to upcoming films being cancelled after their final release of Spies in Disguise. One film thought lost was an adpation of ND Stevensons award winning comic Nimona. Fortunately, Netflix have revived the project, with many of the films crew and the confirmed cast returning. Annapurna Pictures are the new producers working with Netflix, with DNEG taking over from the former Ice Age animation studio. Nick Bruno and Troy Quane return to direct and Chloe Grace Moretz, Riz Ahmed and Eugene Lee Yang are set to star.
What is Nimona?
Describing it quickly Nimona is the story of a shapeshifter of the same name teaming up with the worlds most famous villain to cause mayhem. Along the way we learn more about both her and the villain Ballister Blackheart and his rival Ambrosius Goldenloin. The setting is a medieval science fantasy, where robots are as likely as spells. Stevenson originally released the series themselves as a webcomic, with Harper Collins publishing it in full in 2015. Since then the comic has won multiple awards including an Eisner. Critics have raved about it. The artstyle is something unique to Stevenson and fun. What most remember though about Nimona are the characters.
The book’s main theme is all about Identity, after all, the lead character is a shapeshifter. It’s not just skin deep though. The book tackles the theme with good vs evil as well as the idea of being a hero. Most clearly though is the book being a notably queer story in the world of teen fiction. The characters of Blackheart and Goldenloin in particular having a backstory and relationship that’s central to the story. There’s also “The Institution” which is the leading force trying to subtly opress the people into living their “right” way. This handling of the concept of queer identity, particularly in gender and sexuality has lead to a few columns and papers praising the effect.
The book also served as a launching point for ND Stevenson. Off of Nimona they have also co-created the popular Lumberjanes comic series that is also getting an animated adaptation. This adds to also writing for shows like Disney’s DuckTales reboot and Big Hero 6: The Series. Most famously however is likely their role as exec producer on Netflix’s She-Ra and the Princesses of Power reboot.
Why the Disney cancellation?
There were a lot of casualties with the FOX buyout. One was actually a live action adaptation of the previous mentioned Lumberjanes. The official reason Disney closed down Blue Sky Studios back in Feburary 2021 was due to “economic realities”. Despite the success Spies in Disguise had unfortuantely Disney sacrificed the studio during the COVID-19 pandemic. There were other issues with this film in particular though. Recently Disney has come under fire for their stances on LGBTQ+ issues, which we have an article for here. Part of this response has come from Disney animation employees talking about how much push back there’s been from the company on having queer characters or stories in their films.
It appears Nimona was part of this alleged push-back. This naturally could cause friction when dealing with a story like this. The film was delayed from 2020 through 2022 before it’s confirmed cancellation. The Netflix partnership however has allowed what has been made to be saved and finished. DNEG, who mainly work on visual effects for live action films, are the ones doing the finishing. The Disney released FOX animated film Ron’s Gone Wrong was their last release. Netflix and Annapurna have managed to hold onto a good chunk of the original Blue Sky staff too. There’s every hope that the finished film will be as good as the comic deserves, and as close to the creators original vision as possible.
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