With this year’s San Diego Comic-Con just wrapping up, there are so many promos out there that it’s almost hard to keep up with them.
Titans is the flagship title for DC’s new streaming service and is an adaptation of classic comic book team, the Teen Titans. The title was originally premiered in Brave and the Bold #54 and consisted of Robin, Kid Flash, and Aqualad. They were eventually joined by Wonder Girl, then after a short run in Showcase, they spun into their own series.
Other characters joined the roster, and the series ran for 43 issues before cancellation in 1973. You can’t keep a good team down, though, and the run re-commenced with issue 44 in 1976.
More characters, such as Joker’s Daughter, and Teen Titans West couldn’t get the ball rolling again though, and this run finished with a whimper in 1978.
A change of direction for the team was required, and the amazing success of the X-Men over at Marvel lead DC to re-launch the Teen Titans, with a new creative team and tone. Marv Wolfman and George Perez debuted the new team in DC Comics Presents 26, before the new first issue hit the ground running, and what a run it was.
The title was a huge success and ran for 130 issues, cementing the team into the DCU forever. Various spin-offs, animated shows, and re-launches prove that the team has a following of fans, and its legacy makes this series a no-brainer for DC to adapt as a live-action show.
So, then we see the trailer.
Like Deadpool says, “You’re so dark, are you sure you’re not from the DCU?”
My first reaction to the trailer was one of bewilderment. It is very dark, not just tonally, but in the way it has actually been shot. We start with a mysterious figure walking towards a circus tent with a big Flying Grayson’s sign, just to let us know we are in the right place. Cut to Dick Grayson meeting spooky, gothic Raven for the first time, then another quick cut to typical gangland thugs in an alley getting their comeuppance at the hands of an angry Robin.
It’s this scene here that gives me most of my reservations about this show.
From what I can see, Robin quite clearly shoots, stabs and stomps his way through the assembled bad guys, in a way that I don’t think Robin would. Not Dick Grayson Robin, anyway, and I’m pretty sure that’s who he is.
Then he delivers “that line”. You know the one. I know you’ve watched this.
Now, this is a character that suffers the loss of both parents, is taken in by billionaire Bruce Wayne, who raises him like a son, giving him every opportunity to achieve his goals and mold him into a hero that is an inspiration to others. And he says “that line”.
Tonally it’s odd, character-wise it’s off, and it all smacks of a production that is trying very hard to be edgy and gritty, with a character that dresses in a circus outfit and calls himself Robin.
For me, it didn’t wash. I couldn’t buy it.
After the disaster that the DC film universe turned out to be, here is a TV show that looks set to repeat the same mistakes. The trailer clearly states that this is not suitable for under 18’s, yet the whole show is based on a comic called Teen Titans. Yeah, you dropped the “teen” bit for this show, but who exactly is it pitched at, then? The 18-35 demographic? Well, here’s a plot twist. They won’t be interested in a superhero show with mainly teenage protagonists that want to get your attention by saying naughty words and dissing their parents.
If they are hoping that a percentage of the viewers will be joining this show as they have nostalgia for the golden age of this team, then they have also missed a trick with the cheap cosplay versions of the heroes they used to love.
Starfire, Grayson’s eventual love interest in the comic, was an orange-colored alien warrior with long red hair, and I’m afraid what we get in the trailer is nothing like her comic book counterpart. Raven was more like Hela from Thor Ragnarok in the comic, rather than the TV version of her we seem to be getting, so it seems that the audience they want to appease is the very audience that’s too young to watch the show.
There are lots of quickly edited shots of Beast Boy and Hawk and Dove, but it’s such a jumbled affair that we actually leave the trailer without a clue what was going on, and with “that line” still ringing in our ears.
This looks like a cheaply-made fan-fiction series that has done nothing to engage me and left me wondering if the people that write this show are so out of touch with the original characters that they would have been better just making a new team altogether.
We’ve seen this all before in Arrow and Flash, just without the bad language and violence, which makes me wonder why they would rip their original creations to pieces to shock a new audience into subscribing to their new online streaming service.
It looks cheap and lazy and makes a mockery of one of the most enduring comic book characters of all time, Dick Grayson.
Stop. Just stop before the whole DCU is left broken beyond repair. We need well-produced, thoughtful interpretations of these properties before we hit rock bottom and the backlash begins.