• Television

Science-Fantasy Animated Film “Nimona” Proudly Celebrates Queerness

An unlikely duo going on a rambunctious colorful ride seeking truth and vindication is at the heart of the new animated film Nimona out in select US theaters this weekend and streaming on Netflix on June 30 – just in time to wrap up Pride month with themes of inclusivity and acceptance.

Based on the New York Times bestselling webcomic character created a little over a decade ago by non-binary and transmasculine graphic artist ND Stevenson, Nimona is a mischievous teenage shapeshifter perceived as a villainous threat to be feared in a futuristic medieval world, when all she actually wants is to be accepted for who she really is while having fun creating chaos by transforming herself into various living beings.

Nimona shows up out of nowhere to aid Ballister Blackheart, a knight framed for assassinating the queen. He is reluctant at first to team up with the feisty impulsive shapeshifter he has essentially been trained to destroy until he realized that she is the only one in his corner, very much willing to help him clear his name. The two set out to gain exoneration, expose the real villain in the kingdom, and prove that what we do not know we should not fear, but try to embrace and welcome.

Leading the voice cast are Chloë Grace Moretz as Nimona, Academy Award winner Riz Ahmed as Ballister and Golden Globe winner Frances Conroy as the Director of the Institute who trains and leads the knights who protect the kingdom.


Directed by animators Nick Bruno and Troy Quane, who previously were behind 2019’s Spies in Disguise, the new film endured quite a tumultuous journey behind the scenes until it got to full fruition and release due to The Walt Disney Company’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox studios four years ago.

In a panel following an advance screening in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, the filmmakers explained in detail how the project originated in 2015 at Blue Sky Studios, a Fox subsidiary that officially ceased operations in 2021, and ended up being picked up last year by Annapurna Pictures. Luckily, Nimona prevailed, and the curiosity and excitement surrounding the film from day one from those all those involved continued throughout the process, especially with the important matter of tackling social issues.

“Everyone was so drawn to Nimona,” said Bruno in the production notes. “We didn’t want to shy away from horrible things that are actually in our world, but we also wanted to create a world we wanted to see. So, step one for us was just hearing everyone’s stories and making sure we were telling them with honesty. And I think the magic of this movie comes from the stories of people who know what it’s like to feel alienated, who shared their experiences with us and made sure the representation was authentic. The thing about Nimona is that she already knows who she is. This isn’t a story where she’s on a journey to figure that out, and that’s rare for a female character in an animated movie. But she’s desperately looking for her people.”

Reflecting on the very early stages of breathing life into Nimona and now finally seeing the character on screen, Stevenson, who most recently worked on the animated streaming series She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, shared in the production notes that he has always been “obsessed with shapeshifters since I was a kid, but technically the seed of the idea began in high school. I went to a public high school for two years after being homeschooled for most of my life, and with that experience came this intense realization that, Oh my God, everything’s wrong. My hair, my clothes, my friends, the things I like. I just felt like no one got me at all.”

A few years later while in art school, Stevenson channeled his feelings of being misunderstood and his mental health challenges into a two-page comic where the evolution of Nimona began and has now been fully realized. “It was incredible to realize that a lot more people related to it than I thought,” he says.

Meanwhile, Quane added, “It was such a humbling experience for me and Nick, getting to hear all the voices of those who connected with ND’s story and have championed it. It was evident to us that this story was begging to be told and we had to find the truth in it.”