Daniel "Dan" Dreiberg is the second Nite Owl. Dreiberg succeeded Hollis Mason, the original Nite Owl, during the second generation of costumed vigilantism. He took advantage of his massive inheritance and engineering know-how to build various gadgets and machines to assist him alongside his partner Rorschach on top of their combat skills.
He joined with other heroes to form the Watchmen, but the team never came to be. Nite Owl II continued to fight crime until he was forced into retirement due to the Keene Act which made masked crimefighting illegal, causing him to feel lost and dejected.
Dreiberg came out of retirement after the death of fellow crimefighter the Comedian, and found purpose again through his lover, his former teammate turned lover, Laurie Jupiter. After failing to stop Ozymandias' plot to save mankind by killing millions, Dan returned to retirement with Laurie.
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Dan Dreiberg is friendly, honest, and affable. Like his predecessor Hollis Mason, he lacked any psychological issues like the ones that tainted many of his colleagues.
He is known for being somewhat insecure and awkward. He often lacked confidence in himself. When filled with such self-doubt, his would often be prone to analysis paralysis and inaction.
Even as a vigilante, he was never comfortable working in the sometimes 'gray areas' of vigilante work. Though he was often forced into such decisions, these sorts of tactics never sat well with him and often would lead to further problems as he would become sullen or ridden with guilt over such dealings.
- Genius Level Intelligence: Dreiberg has demonstrated immense mental prowess throughout his career as a costumed adventurer. Although nowhere near the likes of Ozymandias and the nearly omniscient Doctor Manhattan, Dreiberg is much more intelligent than the average person, with his intellect granting him two degrees from Harvard University.
- Master Engineer: Dreiberg is an immensely formidable genius in vehicles' operations and general engineering, being able to construct numerous technological wonders to aid his crusade against crime. These devices include not only his iconic and highly futuristic Owlship, but also his suit, the Owl Cave, handheld laser, night vision goggles and Rorschach's grapple gun.
- Master Martial Artist: Dreiberg is a master martial artist, with his skill allowing him to defeat most, if not all common thugs and costumed villains. However, despite his skill and fervor, Dreiberg is nowhere near a match for Ozymandias, a nearly superhuman combatant in his own right.
- Master Pilot: Dreiberg is able to fly the highly complex Owlship, a futuristic aircraft of his own design, to great effect. For years Dreiberg navigated the ship through the concrete jungles of New York City, only ever faltering due to an engine failure in Antarctica caused by freezing temperatures.
Dreiberg was a skilled inventor and mechanic, talents he could pursue thanks to his large inheritance. His garage was full of devices and gadgets. In retrospect, he thought of them as kitsch, camp, and unneeded for the hunt of muggers and hookers.
His suit had goggles for night vision. A belt had pockets that contained respirator masks, smoke bombs, a fingerprint kit, pocket laser, and a console that controlled remotely Archie and other devices. He wore night-vision goggles that operated when he turned them.
In addition to his owl suit, he had additional suits for specific purposes, like for arctic cold or for underwater work. He had designed an exo-skeleton suit prototype but during trying it broke his arm and abandoned it.
- Nite Owl is partly based on Ted Kord's version of the DC Comics superhero Blue Beetle. Just as Kord's Blue Beetle had a predecessor, Alan Moore also incorporated an earlier adventurer who used the name "Nite Owl" (the retired crimefighter Hollis Mason) into Watchmen.
- Richard Reynolds noted in Super Heroes: A Modern Mythology that despite the character's Charlton roots, Nite Owl's modus operandi has more in common with the DC Comics character Batman.
- According to Geoff Klock, his civilian form "visually suggests an impotent, middle-aged Clark Kent."
Behind the Scenes
- Zack Snyder casted Patrick Wilson as Dan Dreiberg/Nite Owl II after watching 2006's Little Children, which also co-starred Jackie Earle Haley.
- Wilson put on 25 pounds (11 kg) to play the overweight Dreiberg. He compared Dreiberg to a soldier who returns from war unable to fit into society.
- During several attempts to get Watchmen adapted as a film, Kevin Costner, Christopher Walken, and Richard Gere were each considered for Nite Owl II.
- John Cusack, who is an admitted fan of the graphic novel, expressed great interest in playing Nite Owl II.