Be prepared for more Batfleck. Since Warner Bros. revealed plans to prioritize work on a Batman solo film following Justice League, the web has been flooded with news, casting rumors, and theories surrounding the film.
Many fans were excited by this rumor, but others have shown concern regarding staying true to the history of the character. In all previous comic and animated appearances, Grayson has been portrayed as white.
As it turns out, there is little basis for the rumors, aside from Yeun being a top choice for many "fan casts" of the film. But, should the rumors turn out to be true, it shouldn't be a problem. It is well past time we stopped crying foul whenever a character is cast outside of their original race.
In The Case Of Nightwing, Race Isn't All That Relevant To The Character
Now, I am not saying it would have been OK to cast a white guy as Black Panther, or an Asian woman as Storm. For them, racial identity forms a core part of the character. For Nightwing, though, it doesn't really matter what race he is.
Dick Grayson, who became the first Robin (and later Nightwing), was introduced in Detective Comics #38, in April 1940. And yes, he was white. All the major superheroes at the time were white. Any other choice was entirely unheard of.
Aside from the fact that white was the default race for superheroes at the time of his introduction, no aspect of Dick Grayson's character screams that he absolutely has to be white. Racial identity has never been a major part of his character development. It was just what was expected, and there is no reason that can't change.
A Change In Race Could Add New Depth To The Character
Casting Yeun, or any other racially diverse actor (and therefore giving Nightwing a new culture and racial identity) can only be a good thing. It adds a depth to the character that was not there before, leaving much more for the DCEU to explore should Nightwing become popular enough to appear in future films, or even headline a film of his own.
Taking into account the character's previous history, introducing an Asian background for him could make a lot of sense. Prior to taking on the mantle of Robin following the tragic deaths of his parents, Dick performed with them as a member of acrobatic trio, The Flying Graysons.
Even now, as Nightwing, acrobatic ability remains one of the character's key talents. Asian countries have produced some of the best gymnasts and acrobats in the world, making it easy to incorporate one of those countries or cultures into Nightwing's background.
The MCU Has Already Race-Swapped One Major Character To Brilliant Effect
In all of Nick Fury's pre- #MCU comic book appearances, the character was portrayed as white. He was once played by a white actor, David Hasselhoff, in the TV movie Nick Fury: Agent Of SHIELD. However, when the character made his first MCU appearance (in the post-credits scene of Iron Man), popular Black actor Samuel L. Jackson had been cast in the role.
Jackson elevated Fury from a second or third tier character in the comics, to a major player in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His portrayal has become so synonymous with the character that many of the comic incarnations of Nick Fury have been altered to reflect this.
The #DCEU has a chance to follow this success with their choice of Nightwing, breaking some new ground of their own. Dick Grayson as Robin has appeared on the big screen before. Dick Grayson as Nightwing has not.
Whoever is ultimately chosen has a good chance of giving us the definitive portrayal of the character, blazing a trail that any potential future Nightwing's will have to follow.
At the end of the day, what really matters is choosing the very best actor for the role, no matter what race they may be. I look forward to a day when we can all be a little more colorblind when it comes to casting decisions.
Check out all of Steven Yeun's looks over the years on The Walking Dead and you decide whether or not he's got the look to play Nightwing: