Netflix’s Nimona made one crucial tweak to the comic’s backstory

After being shut down by Disney and revived by Netflix, the animated film adaptation of ND Stevenson’s webcomic-turned-graphic-novel Nimona is available for streaming now – and fans of the comic will immediately notice story and tone differences. They’ll also notice that a new backstory has been added, in a storyline that Stevenson says dates back to the comic’s creation in 2012.

“There’s one thing I really loved to see in the movie, because it was a seed of an idea I had with the comic that didn’t really fit into the comic itself,” Stevenson tells Polygon. “That’s the story of Gloreth and her backstory with Nimona.”

In the comic version of Nimona, Gloreth is a legendary figure who battled a terrible monster, and when the shape-shifting, anarchist monster girl Nimona (voiced crucially by Chloë Grace Moretz) appears and joins forces with the shamed knight turned supervillain Ballister Blackheart (Boldheart in the film, in which he is voiced by Riz Ahmed), Ballister looks back at that history as he tries to understand what Nimona is. In the film version, Gloreth looms much larger – literally, given her giant statue in the center of Ballister’s hometown. All of Ballister’s society is based on Gloreth’s history as a knight and monster hunter. But flashback sequences reveal a different truth as they give Nimona much more of a concrete backstory than she had in the book, especially in regards to Gloreth.

Image: Netflix

“[That backstory] was something I thought about for the comic, so I talked to the filmmakers about it,” says Stevenson. “To see it unfold in the film in such a beautiful way was really amazing. I love seeing different shades of this story, which I know very, very well, expanded in different directions and evolving into something new.

When asked about changes in his original story that surprised him in the film, Stevenson pointed to the film’s action climax, where Nimona gives in to desperation and rises up as a huge, seething monster.

“I really like the last act, this frenzy that Nimona continues,” says Stevenson. “It was something I really wanted to see, but I wasn’t sure we would because it’s hard to get it right. She becomes the monster everyone says she is, and that’s hard to watch. I was very curious how they would pull it off, because it is quite dark in the book.”

Finally, while Nimona was an extremely personal story for Stevenson, he approves of the way the story evolved in its animated form. “[The filmmakers] found such a beautiful thing – they really brought out her loneliness, her grief and her betrayal and made it so touching,” he says. “It’s family-friendly, but her emotions come first and it’s like her emotion becomes real through the expression of her powers. I was just so happy to see that represented, and so happy with the angle they found in that story.