Allow me to precede this article with the fact that I have seen very little of HBO’s Girls. I have the impression that it’s about, well, girls. Women, don’t you know. The ladies.
OK, so I’m not the target demographic. Maybe you aren’t either. That’s not the point. The point is that Adam Driver, male star of the HBO series Girls, is heavily rumored to debut in Geekspace as Nightwing in 2015’s Batman vs. Superman. What you and I need to know is whether Adam Driver will do justice to an underrated, but beloved, DC character.
Frankly, I think that’s a red herring. Adam Driver as Nightwing, Ben Affleck as Batman – seriously, this is the post-Dark Knight world, and Nolan ended the last Bats on a fairly high note, considering the history of the series. Warner Brothers know they can’t out-fan that franchise. (Anyway, why compete with themselves?)
So rather than try to woo fans who are still by and large satisfied with Nolan’s dark, edgy Batman tale, this film is going for a different demographic.
Marvel Studios’success with The Avengers suggested new superhero fandoms waiting to come out of the woodwork – in other words, young women. Not traditionally considered comic fan likelies, studios are beginning to think of women as a potential 50% expansion of the traditionally small geek demographic. Let’s face it: the only superhero movies that break box office records these days are ones that get ladies into the theaters. Looking back, it’s kind of amazing that comic book adaptations have done so well by focusing on a fraction of 50% of their potential viewership.
Enter Adam Driver. As the star of a show that expressly markets to young women, he presents a draw for exactly the category of atypical fans that Warner Brothers and DC crave. Sure, he’s a TV actor. It’s hard to imagine that he and Affleck will be able to generate the level of tension that Batman and Nightwing—the estranged, issues-riddled father and directionless prodigal son—must have to please readers who know the Grayson-Wayne dynamic already. But the studio is banking that viewers /won’t./ They’re betting that Driver will be be able to fake it well enough to charm moviegoers and save the day for DC.
In short, Adam Driver’s inclusion nails this film for what it’ll be: an attempt to catch up with Marvel in capitalizing on a new market. Upon its success hangs DC’s chance of competing with Marvel post-Avengers. For Batman’s sake, let’s hope their gamble pays off.