It’s been a wild ride for Warrior Nun fans.
Back in June, Ava Silva had a special resurrection when series creator Simon Barry revealed that Warrior Nun is saved after being summarily (and, I daresay, illogically) axed by Netflix. By August, fans rejoiced again at the post-countdown revelation that the story will be back not with a Season 3, but with an entire movie trilogy to start Warrior Nun’s very own cinematic universe.
So when the Warrior Nun Saved website began a short countdown last week promising a “new big announcement,” it’s not unreasonable for fans of the show — whose passionate #SaveWarriorNun campaign is so critical in today’s wave of queer TV cancellations — to expect something… actually big.
What we got instead was a contest, as well as more new questions than answers.
Disappointing is one way to describe it. But a closer look at the fine print and what’s not being said to dedicated fans across the globe is rightfully raising suspicion.
The Big Reveal
Instead of an update on the promised movie trilogy, Warrior Nun’s “new big announcement” turns out to be an art contest dubbed “A Special Mission From Warrior Nun Creator: Ben Dunn.”
Starting October 5, fans are invited to submit an original halo redesign that “embodies the spirit of the WARRIOR NUN franchise,” with the window for submissions closing at the end of the month.
The entire thing is a bit of a letdown. After all, the last time we waited for a countdown clock to hit 0, fans were given news about a beloved queer show coming back in an unexpected, completely unprecedented way. In contrast, an announcement for a drawing contest feels like it could’ve been an e-mail.
Plus, fans were quick to point out that for an announcement that specifically listed announcement times for different cities — everywhere from Rio de Janeiro to Tokyo and Sydney were listed in the countdown — regarding a global hit show, the contest being open for just residents of the US or Canada (except Quebec) is a little odd. It also feels like an insult to the majority of fans who fought for the show to be saved but just happen to live elsewhere.
However, a closer look at the contest’s official rules reveals something more sinister.
The Fine Print
If you are a resident of the US or Canada (but not Quebec, sorry to the Québécois), then you might still be tempted to participate in the contest. After all, it’s for a show you love, and your design might just be chosen to be on the show’s extended universe. Plus, you get a signed drawing from the artist whose comic books inspired the show!
But wait, like a reasonable adult, it’s time to read through the official contest rules to see what exactly you might get into.
By entering the contest, an artist gives up the rights to their artwork to whoever runs Warrior Nun these days, to be used however they want, without compensation, notice to, or review by the artist. This applies even if you do not win.
If you do win, you won’t get actual creative credit or royalties for creating what would be a pretty recognizable piece of the Warrior Nun trilogy and upcoming cinematic universe.
Contests like this have a bad reputation among artists, and for good reason, especially in 2023. This “big announcement” of “the special mission” comes in the wake of a historic labor win for Hollywood writers and in the midst of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike — both of which emphasize the value of creative labor and workers’ rights to a fair share of the income their work generates.
It’s also more than a little disgusting to see the word “exploit” right there in the terms. But hey, at least they’re up front about being exploitative.
It’s not just your work that you’re giving up rights to as an artist.
If you win the contest, the folks behind Warrior Nun also want to use your name, likeness, image, photograph, voice, opinions, and your hometown (your hometown!) for promotional media. Again without payment, and again without your say in anything that your personal information will be published in, “in perpetuity” — which is legalese for forever.
Plus, you also can’t dispute any of these terms. By entering the contest, artists waive their rights to any disputes, claims, and causes of action.
Clearly, it’s a bad deal.
And what makes it worse is that apparently there will be a fan voting round to determine the winner. This means that not only are devoted fan artists invited to give up their rights to their own work; it also means that the rest of us will be asked to basically pick which one of them will gain a $199.00 drawing and lose rights to their own artwork, picture, likeness, and hometown, etc., in perpetuity.
The actual rules for fan voting will be up on the site “on or after October 15, 2023.”
To be clear, inviting fans to co-create the extension of a series they love isn’t automatically a bad thing. But using fans to get new art and concepts while also refusing to compensate them is, at best, really out of touch. At worst, it’s evil in a way that makes Adriel look almost benevolent.
One also has to ask: Why design a new halo?
The answer is in the fine print, too.
It seems that whoever is running Warrior Nun these days do not own the rights to the halo on the Netflix show, a symbol that’s become very special to fans. Naturally, this brings up the question of whether they are allowed to use anything from the show, including the characters we’ve all come to love and the story that series creator Simon Barry built from Ben Dunn’s markedly different source material.
Of the two of them, it is Dunn that’s featured on the website and will be judging the contest.
As for Barry, he revealed during the countdown that he actually hasn’t been tapped at all to work on the upcoming movie trilogy, and had no idea what the big announcement was.
Other key people from the Netflix production — including director Sarah Walker and writers David Hayter and Amy Berg — have also spoken up about not having anything to do with the ongoing Warrior Nun project. At least, I hope, not yet.
With beloved actors like Alba Baptista and Kristina Tonteri-Young barred from signing up for or talking about projects without a fair deal for SAG-AFTRA, the news about the people behind the camera — themselves reeling after a months-long writers’ strike — is extremely disappointing.
I mean no disrespect to Ben Dunn, who seems to be the only person visibly connected to the producers and the Warrior Nun project right now. But, it’s pretty clear that the fans had clamored for the version of Warrior Nun that was on Netflix, and not the source material.
What’s Next for Warrior Nun?
A few weeks ago, other WLW fandoms would’ve given anything to have what the Warrior Nun fandom had (and I even wrote about cancelled WLW shows that deserve a Warrior Nun resurrection).
But now? Maybe not so much.
I also do not know who would want to draw a halo for a trilogy that may not have any of the Warrior Nun cast and crew involved, and then give up the rights to it, for producers that, so far, have not been named.
So yes, Warrior Nun is still technically saved. But the question is: At what cost?
Of course, anything beyond the announcement and the official contest rules is still speculation, and we might not have any solid updates on the upcoming trilogy until after the SAG-AFTRA strike is over.
Until then, it’s time for a few deep breaths and maybe read a nice Avatrice fanfic (or two).