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Director Chris McKay teases his upcoming films: DC's Nightwing, live action Johnny Quest, & Renfield

By Josh Weiss
Nightwing the Rebirth Cover

Chris McKay will make his live-action debut this Friday with Amazon's The Tomorrow War, but it won't be the only foray into the world of flesh-and-blood for The Lego Batman Movie filmmaker. With his time-traveling blockbuster in the can, McKay is gearing up for three high-profile projects: a solo film about Dick Grayson's alter ego, Nightwing; an exploration of Dracula's loyal servant, Renfield; and a big screen take on Hanna-Barbera's Johnny Quest.

During a recent phone call with SYFY WIRE, the director exclusively teased out all three movies. Let's start with Nightwing, a DC-based effort that McKay says he's "been wanting to do for a long time." The project was first announced in February of 2017, but there hasn't been a ton of movement since then. Not surprising with Warner Bros. comic book cinematic universe constantly in flux.

"It’s a character I’ve always loved," McKay tells us. "DC obviously has gone through some stuff with a lot of their movies and trying to figure out what they wanna do and kind of rolling things out a very deliberate way, which is a very exciting thing for me as a fan of the DC Comics characters and stuff like that. I’m hoping that Nightwing becomes a priority for them because it’s a revenge movie, a story about fathers and sons, and yeah — to me, it’s gonna be a really awesome movie."

Hopefully, next year's Batman reboot from Matt Reeves will be enough of an impetus for the studio to give Mr. Grayson his own green-light to patrol Bludhaven's rooftops.

Nightwing the Rebirth Cover

Up next, we've got Renfield, a sort of Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead take on Bram Stoker's Dracula. Rather than focus on the iconic vampire (who, let's be honest, has been done to un-death at this point), the film will set its sights on the blood-sucker's right-hand man, R. M. Renfield.

Currently in the works at Universal Pictures, the movie was written by Ryan Ridley, working off a script by none other than The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman. Dexter Fletcher was originally in talks to direct before ultimately bowing out. News of McKay's involvement broke this past spring.

"I’m super excited about Renfield," he says. "It’s a movie about Dracula’s assistant and it’s a movie about co-dependency and it’s about bad bosses. It’s definitely a horror-action movie, but it’s also obviously a comedy and it’s also gonna be a lot of fun."

Chris McKay Lego Batman

Lastly, there's the live-action Johnny Quest, which first gained momentum in 2015 when Robert Rodriguez was brought on board by Warner Bros. Rodriguez eventually parted ways with the project, which tapped McKay in December of 2018. Three years later, and he's still raring to get the cameras rolling on the globe-trotting family of adventurers led by Dr. Benton Quest.

"We just turned in a script for Johnny Quest that we’re really excited about. It’s gonna be a big family [movie]," McKay explains. "When I say it’s a 'family movie,' that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s Benji or something like that ... It’s like a family getting caught up in Raiders of the Lost Ark. And when I say Raiders, I mean it doesn’t pull any punches [in the way] Raiders does. Kids are in jeopardy … it’s a real hardcore action family story. It’s about grief at the end of the day. It’s about how the families you make can sometimes help you, especially as a kid, get through something really hard like the death of a parent."

Starring Chris Pratt in the central role, The Tomorrow War hits Amazon Prime Video this coming Friday, July 2. Click here to watch an exclusive clip from the film.

(Universal Pictures & SYFY WIRE are both owned by NBCUniversal)