News has been trickling out about the highly-anticipated DC Titans show and we have a round-up of all the information you need to know.
One of DC’s best-loved superhero groups is ready to make its live-action debut. Titans promises to be a gritty (what else?) reimagining of the Teen Titans comic series and will be the first time several of the characters appear in live-action.
Though the DCEU has had a lot of problems, the DC TV shows have remained largely unaffected. The Arrowverse on the CW has gone from strength to strength, giving fans strong, believable characters and diverse casts that speak to a number of communities.
Can the Titans show do the same?
Here’s everything we know about the show and what we have to look forward to.
Who are the characters in Titans?
In the original Teen Titans comics, the team was founded by Kid Flash, Robin and Aqualad, who were later joined by Wonder Girl. During the team’s most popular comics run, Cyborg (who made his live-action debut in 2017’s poorly-received Justice League), alien Starfire, psychic Raven and shape-shifting Beast Boy were part of the core team.
Over the years, the team has grown further, adding Speedy, Bumblebee, Hawk, Dove, Mal Duncan, Lilith and Gnarrk, all of whom now appear in the Titans: Rebirth comic series, under the leadership of Dick Grayson, aka Nightwing.
The characters set to appear in the Titans TV series look to be a combination of the original comics and the Rebirth universe – Dick Grayson is the leader of the team, in his Robin guise.
The rest of the team appears to be made up of Starfire, Raven, Hawk, Dove and Beast Boy, according to the cast list on IMDB. This combination of characters suggests an older Robin, who may even transition into Nightwing during the show, leading a group of young Titans alongside Starfire.
Whether the rest of the original Teen Titans gang or the new Rebirth group will make an appearance is up for speculation.
It also seems that Doom Patrol, a fringe group of misfit heroes, will play a large part in the first season. Bruno Bichir is listed in the cast as Chief, who comic fans will recognise as the leader of Doom Patrol. A number of the characters listed in the cast roster – Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Robotman – were original members of Doom Patrol in the comics, as well.
We can assume that the Titans will encounter Doom Patrol at an early point in the series and possibly even team up. Beast Boy, who was a young member of Doom Patrol, might be the point of introduction. We could even see Beast Boy being conflicted about his allegiances as one of the storylines.
There is a Doom Patrol series slated for 2019 but absolutely no announcements have been made regarding it. DC is, most likely, biding their time to see how Titans is received before making the leap to another show with lesser known characters.
Who is in the Titans cast?
Brenton Thwaites, of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales fame, is playing Robin. A number of fans had hoped DC would go with an Asian-American actor for the character. Ryan Potter was a fan-favourite and had campaigned for the role of Tim Drake’s Robin in the DCEU. He will be playing the role of Beast Boy in Titans instead.
Teagan Croft is in the role of Raven, Friday Night Lights’ Minka Kelly is set to play Dove, alongside The Hunger Games’ Alan Ritchson, who will play Hawk. April Bowlby is listed as playing Elasti-Girl and Jake Michaels is set to play Robotman.
Anna Diop is the only WOC in the main cast, playing Koriand’r. There has been a lot of objection from DC fans (or perhaps, stans?) about her casting because… racism. There is absolutely no other reason for their vitriolic reaction to a non-white actor being cast in the role of an alien.
Alongside Potter and Diop, Dwain Murphy is set to play Negative Man. From the looks of it, all the actors of colour, barring Bichir, will be hidden under make-up and prosthetics, something Hollywood has been doing far too often of late.
Titans is rated…
Following the mixed reactions to 2009’s Watchmen, DC has stayed away from R-rated fare, up till now. The recently-launched DC Dark label will publish R-rated comics featuring well-known DC characters, starting with a Joker and Harley Quinn comic.
Now, rumour has it that the Titans show will also be R-rated. Though there is no confirmation as yet, it appears that DC is targeting a more mature audience by filling the show with strong language and ‘uncompromising’ violence. This is in stark contrast to DC’s big screen style, which has started moving towards a lighter tone after criticism of its overly dark textual and visual tone.
The first images of Thwaites’ Robin seem to support this rumour – he looks battered and bruised, and quite the worse for wear. This is not how heroes are usually presented, though it does harken back to the preview images for Arrow, which featured a scarred Oliver Queen on the posters.
Arrow has consistently stayed true to its dark, brooding tone, though its more successful off-shoots, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow, have been much brighter fare. Black Lightning, the newest entrant to DC TV, has managed to balance the light and dark in its acclaimed first season.
DC plans to launch the show, among other properties, on its exclusive DC Universe subscription streaming service, giving the brand more creative control over its content. R-rated fare has done surprisingly well on Netflix, as well as in films such as Deadpool and Logan, and we can see why DC would want to capitalise on it.
However, the question must be asked: Does DC need to adopt a dark tone for this show?
One of the more popular animated adaptations of Teen Titans has been Young Justice, which managed to marry humour with darker subject-matter, without losing its way. It would be great if Titans could do the same. There is only so much brooding an audience can take.
How good is Titans going to be?
There are reasons to be excited for Titans, most of all because of the interesting new characters that we will see in live-action for the first time. If done right, they could certainly increase DC’s audience, both for its onscreen content and its comics.
Dick Grayson is a massive fan-favourite and no live-action version has done the character justice, as yet. We have not had a live-action Robin since Chris O’Donnell’s version in Batman and Robin. Christopher Nolan vowed to exclude the character from his Dark Knight trilogy but finally included a Robin-esque hero, sans costume, in Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Detective John Blake. Whenever we have encountered the character, it has been as a side-kick. Robin is definitely due a lead role.
The success of the Arrowverse and Krypton, a solo DC property, certainly bodes well for Titans, as long as DC avoids trying to recreate any kind of formula (like it has unsuccessfully done with its films). Staying true to the source material should also be taken lightly as most of the stories desperately need updating.
DC has already made a mistake by staying true to the ethnicities of most of the characters, many of whom were written in the 1960s. If they can create stories that are more relevant to contemporary times, while using this set of characters, and making room to include more, DC could be closing in on a winner.
For more like this, check out this funky article ranking all the Arrowverse superheroes.