The Anticipated Release of Nimona: A Transformational Series

Marie Zissis, Guest writer

What would you do with the power to shapeshift? For Nimona, the titular character of Netflix’s upcoming 2023 animated film, the answer is clear: infiltrate the lair of infamous villain and part-time scientist Lord Ballister Blackheart in pursuit of a job as his sidekick. Nimona follows the duo’s hijinks as they attempt to sabotage the mysterious Institution and evade capture by Blackheart’s former beau, the knight Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin, while accidentally dredging up drama from Nimona’s murky past.

The movie is the brainchild of cartoonist and animator Nate Stevenson. Beginning as a webcomic during Stevenson’s time at Maryland Institute College of Art, Nimona was adapted into a graphic novel in 2015 to critical acclaim. Blue Sky Studios, a subsidiary of 20th Century Fox, acquired the rights to a feature film version of Nimona in summer of 2015. 

According to production designer Aidan Sugano, working on Nimona was one of a kind experience. The series includes “sci-fi, medieval fantasy, knights, lasers, monsters, dragons, dramatic lighting [and a unique] style”, revealed Sugano. “What isn’t there to love?” he quipped. 

Julia Srnec ‘23, who previously enjoyed Stevenson’s series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (2018), agreed. “Anything with swords is a win. I’m really interested to see how they animate the shapeshifting part [of Nimona],” added Srnec. 

Although the process seemed straightforward, the road to production has been bumpy. Blue Sky Studios was absorbed by Disney in 2019. At that point, the company had animated 3/4 of the film, but despite Nimona’s almost certain completion, production was called into question. The story concept was unconventional, especially in contrast to most Disney films. 

After a few months of debate, the film was scrapped. While no official reason was given for the cancellation, former Blue Sky staff members believe it was due to the film’s LGBTQ+ themes, in particular, a kiss shared between Blackheart and Goldenloin. Given Disney’s lack of explicit queer representation in the past, this was unsurprisingly a controversial and disappointing decision.

Thankfully, the film was picked up by Annapurna Films in spring of 2022 and will soon be completed. Stevenson himself, who has been following the progress of Nimona for almost 8 years, said he is “excited out of [his] mind” to see it finally become realized.

 “Nimona’s always been a spunky little story that just wouldn’t stop,” gushed Stevenson. “She’s a fighter…but she’s also got some really awesome people fighting for her.”

Viewers look forward to the long-awaited film as well. Keep on the lookout for Nimona, out this summer on Netflix!