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Tumblr Comic to Netflix Screen

Feature Films Friday: Nimona

Trigger Warning: Discussions of suicide, persecution, police brutality.

Spoiler warning for Nimona


Nimona is a vision of a dream. A story that spawned from one person, one little post, and one school project. ND Stevenson, or Gingerhaze on Tumblr, first posted on Tumblr about Nimona on September 17, 2011, nearly 12 years ago. He didn’t tag it as Nimona but as Monkpunk.

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ND Stevenson, “It’s like steampunk, but in the Middle Ages, so it’s… Monkpunk”

Nimona started as a doodle Stevenson made during his college classes, a sketch here and there. His signature style didn’t come about until a Tumblr post on Sept. 20, where he announced the beginning of the Nimona comic.

20th Century Fox bought the rights to turn the comic into a film in 2015 and then handed it off to Blue Sky Studios. There the film went into the production stage. But in 2019 Disney bought out Fox, delaying the film multiple times until they promised a 2022 release.

However, behind the scenes, Disney was pushing back against the queer content in the film. The film featured a genderqueer shapeshifter and is generally very LGBTQ+ positive, even featuring a same-sex kiss.

In February of 2021, The film was canceled due to a refusal to budge by Disney. Not to be deterred, the creative team behind the film shopped it around to different studios, and the film was released on June 30, 2023, the last day of Pride month.

Set in a monk-punk kingdom, we see the Institute for Elite Knights, established by Gloreth, who vanquished a great monster 1000 years ago and built a wall.

Ballister Boldheart (and his boyfriend Ambrosius Goldenloin) are set to be knighted, but this is a big day, as Ballister is the first commoner to be knighted. But as he is being knighted, a laser flies from his sword, murdering the queen. 

While on the run Boldheart is visited by a charming shapeshifter named Nimona, who has faced persecution for her powers. Nimona declares herself his sidekick, and their epic tale to regain Boldheart’s honor begins.

The themes of this film are deeply political. Focusing on class structure, bigotry, intolerance, and even suicide. Yet it’s tactfully handled with a PG rating. There isn’t a single objectionable moment.

One of the most impactful scenes is towards the end of the film when we see Nimona’s backstory. A thousand years ago, she wandered the world, shapeshifting, trying to fit in, but no one accepted her. No one but a young child, who became her best friend. Eventually, she revealed her shapeshifting, and though scared she’d be rejected, she was accepted instead. 

The fear on Nimona’s face is communicated entirely non-verbally. No direct words say “What if my friend finds out?” By having it be silent, we have to think more about the ideas she expresses,

When the town found out, however, things got ugly. A mob formed, and the child tried to stop them, but her mother called out to her, with her name, Gloreth. Gloreth turned on Nimona, after all, Nimona is a monster, right?

Specifically having her only friend turn on her, the only person to accept her, is a heavy scene, where we finally hear words in the flashback, they’re hateful and rude. As if they had drowned out all the kind words in the past.

The anti-disestablishment ideals of the director is seen as a negative trait. Sometimes systems need to be disestablished, and that is one of the key concepts. In the film the entire system of the society’s government is flawed. It exists to protect the world from a non-existent threat. Instead they are just discriminating against Nimona because she is not human.

Parallels are aplenty within this film. The most blatant is the connection between the knights and the cops.The film isn’t saying the police should be abolished, but rather trying to say that police reform, and potential defunding, are necessary to better society. Whether or not this is true is up to the individual watching to form an opinion on, yet the movie states its opinion clearly.

Nimona, “I don’t know what’s scarier. The fact that everyone in this kingdom wants to run a sword through my heart, or that sometimes I just want to let them.”

Another major topic is Nimona’s suicidal ideation. Her big defining character moment, the climax of the film, isn’t someone putting her in danger, but her trying to stab herself in the heart on the giant statue of Gloreth. 

Morality and means justifying the ends is another major theme. Nimona and Boldheart commit numerous crimes in their attempt to get justice and prove Boldheart’s innocence. Yet they are undoubtedly the heroes of the film.

The idea of doing bad things for good reasons is a complex moral debate, on which the film stakes its place. There is no doing the right thing without doing the wrong thing, at least according to the film

The complexity of the film, and its many messages, help make the movie engaging to audiences past those who would tend to watch PG movies. It’s also a great way to introduce topics like these into a conversation




The film is very entertaining. There was not a moment that lost my attention, or where I wished to scroll on my phone. Every single moment was engaging and impactful


Graphic design 


The film has a unique style that emulates the art style of the comics fairly well while having its own identity. It draws on the spiderverse method while adapting it to a different art style, giving it a unique look.




The plot is engaging, and complex, and tells a great story. The complexity of its themes increases its rewatch value, as do the many plot twists along the way


Sound design


The sound is adequate. It fits the film well, but it isn’t unique. Sound design is a hard part of movies to master, and every film can struggle with it. Good sound design both stands out, and blends in.




The film feels rushed at certain points, to the point that a longer runtime, being split into 2 parts or a limited series could have helped. By adapting a 272-page graphic novel, they lose a lot of the story and have to compress it heavily to fit the length of the story. The film was simply too short at only an hour and a half.




All in all, Nimona is an excellent film, and I would recommend it to anyone. Younger kids will enjoy the action and pretty colors, older kids will appreciate the storyline, and adults will recognize the heavy themes. There is no reason to dislike this film in my opinion.


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Lex Catanzariti
Lex Catanzariti, Magazine Staff
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