October 12 brought the introduction of DC Comics’ latest live-action tv show Titans, which is supposed to be centered around a team of younger heroes separate from the likes of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, the Flash, etc. The show is part of the new DC-only streaming service; a Netflix for DC content ranging from original shows to the animated movies and shows, to the older live-action films, and even comics to read.
Titans was the show I was looking most forward to because apart from the original Teen Titans cartoon, we haven’t seen the team on screen. We got two years of Young Justice which was a terrific cartoon, but it was short-lived, even with the acclaim from fans and critics alike. On a side note, the streaming service will bring back a season 3.
Back to show, however (there may be spoilers, so beware), and you can immediately tell after two episodes that this adaptation is entirely different from the original cartoon and source material. The writers and producers of the show want to embrace the darkness that has been connected with the DC Universe since the release of Batman v Superman.
However, DC isn’t necessarily dark, nor does it have to be. The Teen Titans, who eventually become the Titans, are far from dark. They are on the lighter side of things because they are kids and are still young adults when you remove the teen label. But the producers wanted to veer on a different path.
“We wanted to do something different from everything else out there,” said Geoff Johns, producer and superstar comic writer. Avika Goldsman, another producer, agreed, “We wanted to arrive at a tone that wasn’t as welcoming as some of the DC shows have been, nor as nihilistic as some of the films have been.”
And the character that stands out the most is Dick Grayson, aka, the first Robin. He is grown up and now living in Detroit as a detective after leaving Gotham. He has always been the light-hearted foil to Batman, but in the show, Grayson immediately sticks out as a younger, similarly-brooding, Bruce Wayne. He is darker than any Robin, specifically Dick Grayson, that I know of.
He is just as violent as Batman, perhaps, even more, going as far as killing people, which is the last thing you would expect from him. His fight scenes in the show were very gory and probably too bloody. For people that love the character, they may not like or appreciate this representation of the longtime fan-favorite. It will definitely take some time getting used to.
And in the show, that is addressed as the reason that Robin leaves Gotham; he needed to get away from Batman because he was turning into too much like him, into a monster that may be worse, and because there is a fracture in the relationship. While we probably won’t see Batman in Titans, we did get the next best thing (other than Robin), Alfred the Butler, albeit not on screen.
While Dick will be responsible for bringing together and leading a super team, his primary importance to the show has been trying to take care of teenager Rachel Roth, aka, Raven. Robin may be the most prominent character, but the initial storyline surrounds Raven. She is part-demon and part-human with powers of empathy, teleportation, able to control her Soul Self.
Raven doesn’t know what exactly she is or know much about her origins. All she knows is that she is scared of the “monster” inside her which she can’t control. To make things worse, there are people after her, and we are introduced to some of her kidnappers in the initial two episodes.
First, there is a mysterious man who breaks into Raven’s house and kills her mother, who we learn isn’t her actual mother, but Raven escapes. Then there is a woman who tries leading Raven into a trap, but Raven was able to avoid it with the help of her powers. The same mysterious man kidnaps her again at the end of the first episode, but Raven’s inner-self takes over her body and kills him. And in the second episode, the Nuclear Family are hired to kidnap her, which eventually happens at the end of the episode.
Why? We don’t know yet, but it’s easy to assume that it has to do with her father, the demon king Trigon who has the probable cult following that is after her. Her attempt to escape the kidnappings in the first episode led her to Dick Grayson, who then proceed to go on the run and lay low, before her abduction mentioned above.
Their relationship will be unique, even with the mini-fallout they had at the end of episode 2. It will be his responsibility to take care of her and train her, as Bruce Wayne did to him, and in doing so, I believe that we will see more character development out of Robin. We will see him revert to his original, non-brutal and non-killing ways. Rachel will help him “save himself,” as Dick did to Bruce.
These two make up half of the main Titans team we expect to see as the show goes on. The two other characters are Starfire and Beast Boy, who we have yet to see on a grander scale. There is a large mystery surrounding Starfire ever since we are introduced to her in Russia. Through her, we got a cameo of Russian strongman Konstantin Kovar, who we saw in season five of Arrow. But, the biggest thing about her, however, is that she too is after Raven. Why? No idea. But this is how she is linked to Robin and Raven.
Beast Boy’s only on-screen moment was at the end of episode one where he shapeshifted into a tiger to break into an electronics store to steal video games. It’s easy to see him as the comic relief in Titans because the scene gave us that tone, and that is part of Beast Boy’s allure.
The second episode revolves around two new characters, Hawk and Dove. Their inclusion as characters in Titans is a nice one because may viewers and fans are not too familiar with them, but are fun characters to follow.
They are a crime-fighting couple with each being a foil to the other. Hawk, Hank Hall, represents force and aggression while Dove, Dawn Granger, is supposed to symbolize peace and reason. However, in the show, Dove isn’t so peaceful, as she gets around kicking a lot of butt, but, she does try to play the verbal peacemaker.
They have a history with Robin in this new universe, and not a great one. It appears that the Boy Wonder had a romantic relationship with Dove before breaking her heart, and Hawk is not a fan of his in general, with a big reason being the former relationship he had with his current girlfriend.
There is a lot to unpack with the first two episodes, especially regarding the characters’ pasts. The showrunners will also want to settle on one specific tone. It’s mostly dark with inconsistency at times. It wants to remain brooding, but at times cannot help but try going to the other side.
The need to try and find the right balance and my solution would be to not settle on constant gory violence and dark clouds. It needs more humor and entertainment. This team is simply supposed to be fun, and hopefully, we get that once they form together.
It’s definitely worth checking out, but only time will tell if it lives up to expectations.