Release dateJuly 20, 2004 (2004-07-20) WriterJohn Fiorella, Bob Kane (characters) CastJohn Fiorella (Dick Grayson/Robin), Brian C. Bethel (The Joker), Paul Hasenyager (Clark Kent/Superman), Anthony Heartley (Chief O'Hara), Kate Clarke (Wonder Woman), Kimberly Page (Selina Kyle/Catwoman) Similar moviesSelf/less, Blackhat, Knock Knock, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Salt
TaglineGotham's son returns
Grayson is a 2004 fan film made by John Fiorella featuring DC Comics character Dick Grayson along with several other DC Universe characters. Since it is a fan film, it was not allowed to be sold at a profit and was thus distributed for free on the internet.
The film is a mock trailer for a Grayson movie; however, no such movie exists. Currently, there are also no plans for a full-length feature film, because the filmmakers have no possibility to produce such a film without the support of Warner Bros.
The original screenplay for a full-length picture is available for download at the Untamed Cinema official website.
While no cohesive plot is apparent from the vignette style of the trailer, it can be pieced together that Batman has been murdered, and his killer remains at large. Dick Grayson, long since retired from his superhero days and married to Barbara Gordon with a child, decides to resume his crime-fighting days as Robin. Remarkably, Grayson does not take up the Nightwing identity. The filmmakers said they chose this because many people outside the comic book community are unfamiliar with Nightwing and they wanted to appeal to a wider audience.
Commissioner Gordon is aware of Grayson's secret identity and assists him by supplying official documents. In addition, Gordon provides the voiceover narration at the beginning of the trailer. The head of the investigation into Batman's death is indicated to be Chief O'Hara, a character from the 1960's Batman TV series, who apparently also knows Grayson's identity (noting that Grayson's "crimefighting days are over") His role is suspicious since he strongly wants Grayson to not become involved, even to the point of aligning with Selina Kyle/Catwoman to eliminate Robin and shouting at reporter Clark Kent that he wants "him [presumably Grayson] out of the equation!" O'Hara is also seen rolling up his sleeves, preparing to assault an angry captive Gordon. The extent of O'Hara's apparent corruption is left unclear.
Grayson is aware of Superman's secret identity; he addresses him as "Clark". Superman apparently is also motivated (obviously from O'Hara) to discourage Grayson's return to crimefighting and three angry confrontations between the characters are shown, in and out of costume. Grayson is also angered to violence by the sight of a Superman comic book, suggesting a strongly negative history between the two. Other comic books also appear of characters from the film, including Wonder Woman and Catwoman. Fiorella used his own comic book collection for this scene.
Longtime Batman villains the Penguin and The Riddler briefly appear, with a larger role taken by The Joker. A brief scene adapted from The Killing Joke appears, with Barbara Gordon crawling away from a door as the Joker breaks in. Afterwards, the Joker is seen walking through a park with the Graysons' daughter.
In three brief appearances, Wonder Woman is shown deflecting bullets from her bracelets, snaring Robin in her golden lasso, and mourning over what appears to be the body of Superman.
The Green Lantern (caucasian and dark-haired, suggesting either Hal Jordan or Kyle Rayner) has a momentary appearance, standing next to a fallen Robin, though the context is unexplained.
All in all, the trailer suggests the Justice League wants to stop Grayson from clarifying Batman's death. It is not known if they are ordered by or affiliated with O'Hara. The filmmakers clarified that it was never their intention to portray the other superheroes as villains. They might be rather ordered to stop Dick because he is heading down a dangerous road.
It is implied that Batman may not actually be dead and Fiorella's commentary on the "Behind the Scenes" video confirms that this ambiguity was his goal: "I wanted to make people wonder if in fact Batman had really been killed."
John Fiorella as Dick Grayson/Robin
Brian C. Bethel as The Joker
Paul Hasenyager as Clark Kent/Superman
Anthony Heartley as Chief O'Hara
Kate Clarke as Wonder Woman
Kimberly Page as Selina Kyle/Catwoman
Gloria Payne as Barbara Grayson/Batgirl
Mark Brodkin as Commissioner Gordon
The project began when Fiorella was searching, along with his director of photography Gabriel Sabloff, for a suitable subject for a demo reel that would showcase their filmmaking abilities. When Fiorella raised the idea of a film about Robin, Sabloff was skeptical at first, but soon convinced. The objective of Fiorella was to "tell a new and exciting story about the former boy wonder that leaves audiences wanting more" and let the viewer be the judge to decide if he hit the mark.
With a budget of $18,000, the filmmakers created a five-and-a-half minute trailer complete with motorcycle chases, underwater escapes, pyrotechnics and feats of strength. Most of the production budget went to 16mm film stock, production equipment, processing and transfers, leaving little for anything else. According to the behind the scenes video of Grayson, their budget didn't allow for daily film transfers, so the filmmakers only saw developed footage in batches every three months. The two employed guerrilla filmmaking tactics, filming mainly on weekends and at whatever locations they could find, often without permission.
The screenplay for the non-existent motion picture is available for viewing at the Untamed Cinema website, and features most of the events shown in the trailer, although with some differences, as well as a full explanation of all questions raised by the trailer.
A behind the scenes documentary of Grayson is also available for download. Grayson: Pieces of the Puzzle is a 30-minute featurette with unseen footage, bloopers, alternate takes, production stills and commentary by John Fiorella.
After the publicity generated by the film's online release at TheForce.net, the film was to be screened at the 2004 San Diego Comic-Con, but all superhero fanfilm screenings were cancelled that year, as DC Comics requested that the convention honor their intellectual property rights and halt all showings of fanfilms based on their characters.