Fan films have long been the ultimate love letter to fandom. A team of people laboring over an adaptation of their favorite property, not held back by the restrictions of Hollywood and production companies, simply doing it because they have a love of film and of the source material. We here at Word of the Nerd will be showcasing the very best in these films and shedding light on some you may not know about. Welcome to Fan Film Friday.
The character of Dick Grayson has been adapted for the screen in many different iterations since 1943. Always by the side of the Dark Knight, Grayson as Robin never reached the starring role status in the movies that he did in the comics. You can sum up the character’s entire 72 year film and television adaptation history as simply as saying, “Always the sidekick, never the hero.” In 2004, filmmaker / actor John Fiorella set out to change that with “Grayson”.
Now this is not your typical fan film, inasmuch that it is a trailer for a fan film that doesn’t exist. What it lacks in plot or character development, it more than makes up for with originality.
The basic premise of the short is that Batman has died and Dick Grayson comes out of retirement in order to find out who did it. Along the way he faces opposition from Chief O’Hara, who you may remember as the chief of police from the 60’s “Batman” series starring Adam West, and the people he controls which include Catwoman (Played by WCW Nitro Girl Kimberly Page) and Superman.
Thats right, Superman. An older one at that, akin to Alex Ross’ version in Kingdom Come. Just look at the guy though, second to Christopher Reeves this man looks the part of Clark Kent and Supes that no one else has.
After the minute or two devoted to establishing the premise, the rest of the trailer consists of awesome montages of an adult Robin interacting with every character you would expect in a Batman family film and some that you didn’t see coming. Since this is a trailer, most of the characters are on screen for seconds and they have little to no dialogue, but that doesn’t matter when you see Wonder Woman cradling Superman’s body or Green Lantern showing up. We also get scenes involving classic bat villains the Penguin, Riddler, and, of course, the Joker.
The director has acknowledged that the film was shot with a very modest budget, and unfortunately it shows. The effects are hokey, and the lighting isn’t great. Plus, Chief O’Hara’s exaggerated accent was a little too over the top, even with the limited dialogue he had.
When you finish watching this and you feel like you need more of this interpretation of the character, the people at Untamed Cinema have posted a full length screenplay for free download on their website. Also, director / Grayson himself Jason Fiorella released a series of commentary videos about the making of the short that you can find on this Youtube page.
Despite its flaws, “Grayson” does do a fantastic job of cramming in a lot of cool stuff in such a short amount of time. If they can do that with less than six minutes, imagine what could be done with an entire feature.