Written by Chris Walker (@cwlkr20)
When you first watch the original DC Universe Titans trailer, you are clearly expecting a soundtrack of Evanescence to go along with the angst and darkness in the two-minute clip. From the minds of Akiva Goldsman (The Dark Tower, Star Trek: Discovery), Geoff Johns (Aquaman, Wonder Woman 1984), and Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash), viewers thought they were getting a graphic version of Batman vs Superman, except without the heavy hitters. Maybe it was the violence, or Robin (Brenton Thwaites) saying “Fuck Batman”, or the general color scheme throughout. All of those things are in the actual show, but through the first seven episodes, it clearly has more depth and strengths than BvS.
With a murderous Robin, a very goth teen Raven (Teagan Croft), a more human-looking Starfire (Anna Diop), and an older Beast Boy (Ryan Potter), the show looks corny on the first view. It looks dark without rhyme or reason, so of course, the internet flamed it, on sight. After generations grew up with Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans and, now, Teen Titans Go!, this version looks like it’s trying too hard to be grown up. Which is a fair reason to dislike it, if it fails at its mission — but it doesn’t. It is clear the show wants to create its own narrative, while also injecting heart into each character’s role.
“What narrative,” you ask? So far, the show is reflective of the 1980 New Teen Titans comic, with the team being brought together to solve the mystery that is Rachel “Raven” Roth. Two groups with different intentions are chasing her, mainly because she’s a living portal for her demon father, Trigon. There is something to be said for pacing, with Beast Boy only making a meaningful appearance in the third episode, and the team only really “forming” in the fifth. In accord, before and after they come together, there is clear chemistry between the characters.
As well, the character portrayals have been poignant, like Diop, who for playing an amnesiac alien, displays wonder and a fierce streak in every scene. The most surprising portrayal is Thwaites’ Robin, who truly understands the Boy Wonder has issues. Dick Grayson clearly no longer wants to be Batman’s sidekick, but quitting doesn’t mean his demons are gone. The level of violence he displays shows becoming a teenaged vigilante maybe wasn’t the healthiest way to deal with childhood trauma — it definitely created more. Thwaites brings a seriousness and sincerity to the trauma, grounding his role in Grayson trying to heal and help others at the same time, which is clear from his interactions with Roth.
So what is next? The show has gotten the team together, and they’re working on leads which, sooner or later, should conjure an appearance from Trigon. At this point, we’ve already met a variety of DC characters, including Jason Todd, Hawk & Dove, and The Nuclear Family. There was a backdoor entrance for the Doom Patrol series. We know that Donna Troy is coming, but hopefully, we get a Brother Blood appearance, since he does worship Raven’s father. Hell, I know we’re getting closer and closer to Nightwing with each passing episode and every punch that Dick throws at varied bad guys throughout the series.
All in all, if you’re looking for a reason to subscribe to DC Universe, I’d say this is a good one. For the issues with pacing and the graphic language & violence (which need to be dialed down), Titans does a good job of getting the characters right and keeping you in the chase. For a show that averages about 46 minutes an episode, they pack it full of excitement, details, and intrigue to keep you coming back for more. And in all honesty, if you don’t want to watch, then at least promise yourself you’ll wait until the end of the Young Justice relaunch, sign up for a free week, and then binge it. If only for the fact that we all know what we’re in for there.