At this point Greg Berlanti has a licence to print money. With a first look deal for Netflix alongside his highly lucrative television arrangement at Warner Brothers, only J.J Abrams could be considered competition. With numerous CW titles including Legends of Tomorrow, Arrow and Doom Patrol amongst his roster of properties, Titans remains prominent. Partnering with DC supremo Geoff Johns and industry sensei Akiva Goldsman, season three will hit HBOMax on August 12th in full force.
Tapping into DC storylines with comic book resonance from the off, Titans hinges on a classic confrontation involving Jason Todd. Solid set pieces which serve to re-introduce the Titan line up, coincide with deserted amusement parks and maniacal villainy. Elsewhere, disparate members are pulled back into the fray with narrative economy, while Wayne Manor features prominently throughout.
Aside from the Shakespearean levels of drama which are provided by Iain Glen’s Bruce Wayne, this third season morphs from mystery into tragedy seamlessly. Brenton Thwaites remains the conflicted bedrock of the team as Dick Grayson, while Anna Diop adds further depth as Starfire. In every respect, Titans now feels like a genuine ensemble with elements which appeal to every demographic.
Joshua Orpin’s Conner Kent displays an easy going chemistry and brotherly connection with Ryan Potter’s Gar, which both enhances and offsets dramatic moments. Elsewhere, Minka Kelly and Alan Ritchson excel in adding genuine pathos to a storyline laden with anticipation. Heartbreak, loss and rebirth are all addressed here, in a season which opens the doors of Arkham and sees Gotham PD come on board.
Amongst the divergent storylines, sibling rivalries and darker narrative threads there remains a genuine sense of cohesion. Nothing in season three smacks of padding and newbies will be drawn in instantly. Gruesome acts of self-harm and intricate games of cat and mouse sit alongside more shocking narrative twists. With this third go around, Titans is morphing into something which surpasses mainstream comic book adaptations.
There is still a lightness of touch and hunger for character development, but rather than jumping ahead to the fan favourite moments; Titans delves into detail. Exchanges between Dick and Dawn have resonance, while Kory and Gar enrich their relationship further through shared experience. It successfully balances the dramatic need for progression, with a desire to honour comic book touchstones. An influence which can be attributed, in part, to DC supremo and Batman aficionado Geoff Johns.
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Having been a driving force in the Ben Affleck script, which was subsequently leaked, Geoff Johns brings an expansive knowledge and dedication to DC which is unsurpassed. Having penned the script for Wonder Woman 1984, delivered a story for Aquaman and been pivotal in Arrow; there is no denying his credentials. What that means for fans coming into this third season, is an unspoken reassurance of quality.
As momentum quietly builds for The Batman, due for release in March 2022, this feels like perfect timing. Aquaman 2 has started shooting in London, Suicide Squad is released in cinemas and Black Adam waits in the wings. For a universe which has experienced more than its fair share of criticism over the years, DC is coming of age. For Titans this feels like the foundations of a potential move into cinematic territory.
That Marvel have made this happen already, despite reports to the contrary, will cease to matter when Charlie Cox reclaims his place as Daredevil this December. DC may have been slower in achieving the same objective through their Flashpoint movie, but again, this industry is about longevity not sprint finishes. When Dwayne Johnson hits cinemas in July next year, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness will have made its mark, alongside The Batman. As a result, the playing field will have shifted again prior to Michael Keaton’s scene stealing arrival in November.
All of this is good news for those who thought superheroes were losing their allure. With the Neil Gaiman opus Sandman currently shooting, alongside confirmed whispers of another Green Lantern project, Titans feels like a solid property. On the evidence of these opening episodes, there is definitely room for a fourth season. If anything, this feels like a new show rather than one coming up on three years.
Seamlessly accessible, consistently engaging and proof that longevity in comic book IP is still possible. Season three will appeal to diehard fans, ingratiate itself to the uninitiated and guarantee televisual tremors upon release. A fact that will cause audiences to welcome back these spandex clad reprobates with open arms.
This barnstorming third season really puts Titans on the map.