DC Universe, a streaming service coming soon that offers everything DC COMICS, has 5 original content programs that will be launching with it. One of which is the highly anticipated first live-action adaptation of Titans. Otherwise known as Teen Titans, the series follows a disenfranchised Dick Grayson (Robin) as he must lead a group of powerful individuals against a new powerful threat.
Splash Report has some spoiler-ish details below regarding the series pilot:
“It’s about time we had another excellent superhero television show. It seems, in recent years, that the quality promised to us by the early seasons of DAREDEVIL, THE FLASH, ARROW, and even JESSICA JONES has been forgotten amongst the need to pump out a season every year. While we have a top-notch television in LEGION, we need higher standards across the board to honestly justify the amount of content that is being produced annually. From IRON FIST to SUPERGIRL, the small-screen superhero has been neglected to an almost laughably terrible level. So when a project comes along that stands out from the crowd, it deserves the praise. Here’s the inside scoop on TITANS (Episode One).
The Teen Titans are one of the most popular superhero groups in pop culture. The early 2000s cartoon of the same name garnered strong social and critical acclaim, lasting five seasons before relaunching under TEEN TITANS GO! (a show geared more towards children). The yearning for another season of the original cartoon is still strong amongst fans today, proving there’s an enduring desire for the return of the titular superhero group. And while TITANS aren’t similar to the original TEEN TITANS cartoon in any significant way, I’m sure it’s going to satisfy a hungry audience more than.
The pilot of TITANS is centered on three heroes, Robin, Raven, and Starfire (Brenton Thwaites, Teegan Croft, Anna Diop), but it begins with a flashback. The Flying Grayson Circus. This flashback is used as both a primer to the backstory of Dick Grayson (Robin) and an introduction to Rachel Roth (Raven). It does a respectable job at making the audience understand Robin’s character, akin to that of Bruce Wayne in the Batman films. It also gives a robust taste of what’s to come with Raven, highlighting her unstable psyche and untapped power. However, the rest of the pilot is structured very much around the individual heroes. Each first Act begins with a chyron separating the protagonists from each other. In this sense, it could be considered similar to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, where each hero is given an introductory film to get the audience invested and are then brought together in an ensemble movie.
Before we get into the individual character breakdowns for the first episode, I think it’s important to discuss the tone of the show. TITANS is very much not a series for children. There are multiple f-bombs and s-bombs, among other swear-words that make it seem like they’re going for an R-rating. Moreover, the action is brutal, with bone snaps, people being shot, burned, and mangled. It’s a departure from the more joyful tone that many associates with the group, but it’s a departure that I feel is for the best. It’s refreshing to see a DC show that’s no-holds-barred instead of shying away from the more mature aspects of the mythology. It’s not as adult as something like JESSICA JONES, but it’s far darker than anything DC has put out on the small screen thus far. What separates TITANS from some of Marvel’s darker shows is the fact that it doesn’t ever really aim to be realistic. TITANS doesn’t shy away from the big, fantastical spectacle, and instead embraces the comic roots of the characters. We can have a realistic Robin fight scene, but we can also have Starfire blasting away goons with a burst of fire. It’s a mixture of realism and fantasy that I think works great.
ROBIN is the first character we are introduced to. At this stage in his life, decades after the Flying Grayson Incident, Dick Grayson is in a terrible place. It’s not the Robin many of you are accustomed to. He doesn’t work with Batman anymore after growing to hate him and leaving Gotham for San Francisco. He’ll sometimes see a shadow of Batman, only to turn around and realize it’s his own. He’s afraid of becoming like Bruce. Nevertheless, he still wears the Robin suit instead of a Nightwing costume (which would make much more sense). In this iteration of the character, Grayson has taken up the career of being a Detective on the police force. We are introduced to some of the series’ side characters like Detective Rohrbach and Wolf, and we also notice Grayson’s plain apathy towards them. See, Robin doesn’t work with people anymore. After what Batman did to him, he’s shut himself off from any relationships, absorbing himself in his work. It’s an exciting choice for the character, and his development throughout the season will be one of its central pillars. We also get a glimpse into the action of the show, which looks to be phenomenal.
From there, we are taken to the next chyron— RAVEN. Here we get a more extensive look into the character of Rachel Roth than in the cold open. We get to see more of her mother, Angela, an insomniac trying to manage taking care of a problematic childlike Raven. It’s been difficult. Raven’s powers are also given some spotlight early on, highlighting a deeply disturbed, almost demonic individual residing inside her. Rachel’s neighbors are well-aware of her strangeness, as are her classmates, who regularly bully her. It’s clear that Raven’s relationships at school are going to be a big part of her story moving forward. It is also within this Act that we are introduced to one of the main antagonists of the story, The Acolyte: a mysterious hitman whose intentions and superiors are unclear, but hint at a more extensive narrative at play. Without spoilers, let’s say that the Acolyte prompts some change within Rachel’s life that launch the entire show into motion.
Before we get the next chyron, we are given some more story developments with Robin and Raven. And then, the next act— STARFIRE. She is probably the most intriguing character in the pilot episode, introduced in an enthrallingly enigmatic fashion. When we first meet her, Starfire is in smack in the middle of a car crash, her driver is embedded in the bloodied windshield, and armed men are chasing her for a reason unknown to us. Also, I think this is a good time to mention her outfit and appearance, as the recent set photos have caused some controversy amongst fans. Starfire is introduced to us the night after a DISCO PARTY. The reason she looks like someone out of a 1970s club is that she was at one. Her dress and hairstyle aren’t part of her usual look. So, everyone needs to relax a bit and wait for the official image. Okay… back to the story. On the escape, Starfire finds out she has multiple passports and can speak multiple languages— the identity of this woman is an absolute mystery. Some more events transpire (which I won’t divulge into for spoiler’s sake), and she is propelled on a mission that will sow the seeds for TITANS.We are chronologically reaching the end of the pilot, so the following will be very vague to avoid ruining some of the best moments of the episode. Towards the end, the culmination of the previous 50 minutes takes a head. There’s spectacle, violence, and mystery that acts as both a satisfying finish for the episode and a definite beginning for the rest of the show. The absolute greatest, the most jaw-dropping moment of the pilot happens here, and it’s so good. But you’ll have to see the episode yourself to find out what it is…
Overall, the pilot of TITANS is an excellent introduction to the series. We get an overview of the show’s central characters, the darker tone, some of the action, and a taste and the grander narrative at play. For those disenfranchised with DC’s latest TV shows, or even cheesy superhero shows in general, be on the lookout for this one.”
Titans is currently aiming for a Fall 2018 release on DC UNIVERSE’s streaming network.