Three episodes were provided prior to broadcast.
As much as I love seeing the likes of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman tearing it up on the big screen, there exists a plethora of DC characters yet to be utilized by the motion picture division at Warner Bros. Fortunately, though, the TV side of things has spoiled us in kind in recent years, especially The CW’s phenomenal Arrowverse – but even that has its limitations.
Enter DC Universe, a new streaming service devoted entirely to producing content relevant to this brand. Spearheading the initiative is Titans, a team-up series uniting Robin AKA Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), Starfire (Anna Diop), Raven (Teagan Croft) and Beast Boy (Ryan Potter) in an unexpectedly mature set of adventures.
By now, I’m sure you possess some level of familiarity with this show, most likely via the trailer that proved to be divisive on social media. To be clear, it’s indicative of the content to an extent, but I wholeheartedly assure you that most negative expectations of yours should be checked at the door because what I’ve had the chance to take in made for some damn good television.
Make no mistake, Titans is decidedly dark from the opening seconds, and is a far cry from Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans Go! For that, I’m rather thankful, but despite my appreciation for this endeavor, I’m not entirely sure this was the best DC property befitting of this tone. Perhaps it’s just me, but it feels somewhat reactionary to what Marvel has been doing over on Netflix.
Those knowledgeable about this set of young heroes know to anticipate a family vibe, which I’m sure will materialize at some point. In the meanwhile, we’re going to see the quartet coming together from different directions, as they become entangled in what I’ll cryptically refer to as a hellish conspiracy.
Not surprisingly, Dick and Rachel (yes, Raven has a civilian name) get the most screentime at first, though I surmise they’ll be central to the series as a whole. Starfire, however, is in no way neglected as Beast Boy is in the first three installments and, believe me, any negative opinion you had of Kory based on her costume will change once you actually see her in action. To be succinct, she’s badass.
Naturally, the battier fans among you (pun intended) are here to see Robin and, quite thankfully, his beginnings in Gotham City are explored. But when it comes to the present, he’s a detective in Detroit moonlighting as a vigilante by night who’s more of a brutal Boy Wonder than your daddy remembers.
This is where I’m somewhat conflicted because while blood is expected to fly in street fights, the brouhahas here look as though they came from the mind of Eli Roth. Believe it or not, Robin actually stabs a guy in the dick! I don’t mind seeing the Punisher doing things like this, but it seems kind of uncharacteristic for Grayson – even if his first name is, um, Dick.
Like I said, the characters come together organically, with even guest heroes like Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove (Minka Kelly) getting roped in. And though they bring a boatload of drama with them, they make for a welcome addition. I know a spinoff starring the two is being kicked around, but I’d like to see them continue on in this series.
Now, I hate to overuse the word “mature,” but I have to stress that Titans is presented as a more adult series. Had the DC Universe not been its own initiative, this show would’ve been right at home on Netflix or HBO. Yeah, the production is that well done. Pacing issues in the debut episode aside, the directing and cinematography are rock solid.
In truth, I can’t wait to see where these characters go and which other ones will join the fold in the near future. For example, there’s Jason Todd (Curran Walters), Batman’s second Robin, whom I know to be showing up slightly further down the line.
Titans may not be perfect, but there’s some mighty cool stuff on hand. My better judgment tells me the series is finding its footing right now, and it could very well blossom into being one of the finer superhero shows around. I can only imagine what’s possible for future seasons if the producers are able to get their hands on characters like Superboy, Terra and Deathstroke, though it does matter how much red tape stands in their way. For now, I just really want to see what lies beyond the three episodes I’ve had the privilege of viewing – and you should, too.
Oh yeah, and WB, make sure Dick becomes Nightwing before this bad boy wraps up.