Directed by Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, ‘Nimona’ is a Netflix animated feature film that takes place in a world where science fiction and fantasy have come together to create a complex and vibrant story. About 1,000 years ago, Gloreth, a great knight, defeated a powerful monster and established an elite order of knights known as the Institute. Throughout the years, only descendants of the original knight squad could join the Institute, but as the film begins, we learn that the queen of the realm has gone against a thousand-year-old tradition to recruit a commoner named Ballister Boldheart (Riz Ahmed) for the Institute.
However, when the same Ballister seemingly kills the queen during the knighthood ceremony, the kingdom turns against him. Hoping to prove his innocence, Ballister teams up with an unlikely partner, a shapeshifter named Nimona (Chloë Grace Moretz). As a film, ‘Nimona’ is a metaphor for LGBTQ+ acceptance. Some characters are gay, including Ballister, and Nimona represents fluid identity. If you are wondering whether the film is based on a graphic novel or a book, we got you covered.
Is Nimona Based on a Graphic Novel or a Book?
‘Nimona’ is based on the 2015 graphic novel of the same name by cartoonist ND Stevenson, who originally published ‘Nimona’ as a webcomic on Tumblr between June 2012 and September 2014. Robert L. Baird and Lloyd Taylor wrote the script of the film, with Pamela Ribon, Marc Haimes, Bruno, Quane, and Keith Bunin also sharing writing credits. Stevenson created ‘Nimona’ as a part of a writing assignment during his junior year. In an interview with the Paper magazine, he stated, “The ability to make comics on my own terms and create my graphic novel, ‘Nimona,’ was what got me my first writing job in animation.”
‘Nimona’ also seems like a personal story. Since its publication, Stevenson, who uses he/him personal pronouns, has undergone a top surgery and stated that he is “transmasculine and bigender.” He cited ‘Star Wars,’ ‘The Lord of the Rings,’ ‘Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin,’ ‘Dungeons & Dragons,’ ‘The Prince of Egypt,’ and ‘Project Runway’ as some of the works that have inspired him over the years in an interview with Entertainment Weekly.
Asked why Nimona resonated with everyone, Stevenson told Screen Rant, “I think that she is something that we all have inside of us that we don’t get to express very often. That’s where I made her. When I’m having a bad day, I would love to turn into a giant fire breathing monster. But it can’t. And she can. She expresses things. She’s very true to her inner emotions, and she has this way of manifesting them physically. I thought she was really personal character, and she is, but so many people relate to her. All kinds of people. I think we all have a little Nimona in us.”
As a graphic novel, it has been translated into multiple languages, including Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, and Spanish. The graphic novel won the Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album—Reprint in 2016. ‘Nimona’; was originally in development at Blue Sky Studios, with Patrick Osborne serving as the director. After Blue Sky’s parent company, 21st Century Fox, was acquired by the Walt Disney Company, the project received a pushback reportedly because of a same-sex kiss.
Annapurna Pictures ultimately came on board, hired Bruno and Quane as directors, and released the film on Netflix. In the adaptation process, the narrative underwent certain changes. For instance, the ethnicity of Ambrosius Goldenloin (Eugene Lee Yang) was changed to Asian, and Ballister’s surname was changed from Blackheart to Boldheart. The LGBTQ+ themes are much more overt in the film, and an entire subplot about poisons has been left out. So, to sum it all up, ‘Nimona’ is based on the namesake iconic graphic novel by ND Stevenson, who developed a science fantasy setting to tell a story about identity, non-conformity, and challenging the powerful.