At San Diego Comic Con a couple weeks ago, the first available footage for Titans was shown to the world and the response was . . . divisive to say the least. Unfortunately, it seems all too common for a DC property these days. I'll be the first to admit that the initial footage took me off guard and I was surprised by the dark tone. I expected something more along the lines of The Flash or Young Justice. Instead, the show is skewing closer to the tone of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice or the first season of Arrow. Is that a bad thing? No, of course not. It just means they're going a different direction than I anticipated. The more I thought about it and the more times I watched the trailer I grew to really like this dark, gritty take on the property and came up with some reasons I think we should all be excited for this new series.
THIS AIN'T NO TEEN TITANS GO!
Right off the bat the tone was set up as a darker setting then I think most of us were expecting. Granted, I didn't necessarily expect it to be a live action version of Teen Titans Go but I was expecting . . . well not THAT dark. I just have to say from my personal point of view that I don't care for Teen Titans Go. I know it has it's fans, and that's cool, but really it's meant to be a silly children's cartoon that can get kids into superheroes at a young age. I have no problem with that, in fact I welcome that thought process, but for me, I got into Batman through Batman: the Animated Series and Tim Burton's Batman. Titans seems to be taking a similar route with the dark, gritty storytelling. Maybe some parents won't want their kids watching such a violent, dark show but hey! I grew up watching violent stuff and my therapist says I'm doing just "fine".
Yepp . . . we're gonna talk about it. The infamous line from the Comic Con trailer that seemed to either rally or piss off the fanbase. Robin violently dispatches a number of goons and grunts, "Fuck Batman." Well . . . I wasn't expecting that! The line really threw me for a loop until I realized that Dick Grayson and well, quite frankly all the Robins, have had SEVERAL "Fuck Batman" moments during their costumed careers. It just seems new to us because we've never heard those words before. We've heard, "I quit" "I'm done with you" "I'm going solo!" etc, etc. To me, the exclusion of Batman is a good thing for the series. It means we can watch Dick grow from pissed off at his father young man to his own man. I have no doubt we'll see his turn from Robin to Nightwing, probably in the first season. I'd love for somewhere down the line to have Dick finally come to terms with and forgive Batman for whatever falling out they may have. Even if it doesn't, the point of the show is to see Dick and his new friends come together as a family. That's going to be more important than anything else.
RAVEN'S COMING OF AGE
In just about every iteration of Teen Titans, Raven has had to deal with her evil father, Trigon, coming to our reality to destroy it or enslave it or whatever. Lucky for her the other Titans are always there to back her up. It's looking like this version won't be any different. Raven actively seeks out Dick Grayson because he can help her fight off the literal demons she has haunting her. Granted, this story has been told, as I just said, in every version of Teen Titans but I'm confident with it being done in live action, there will be a new twist or wrinkle in the narrative. Raven is one of DC's best characters. Someone that is trying to define herself as a good person in spite of having a literal monster for a father. As I've stated numerous times, it's the type of coming of age story that people can subconsciously relate to but it's thinly (and not so thinly) veiled as a superhero epic.
GEOFF JOHNS / GREG BERLANTI
Two names that are undeniably influential in the world of DC on TV, Geoff Johns (my man) and Greg Berlanti. Berlanti is the producer of every superhero show currently running on The CW and Geoff Johns is one of DC's best writers as well as producer of The Flash and other series. If anyone knows anything about how to craft an awesome DC TV show it's these guys. Their track record speaks for itself with all five DC CW shows getting multiple seasons plus Gotham getting to five seasons and now several highly anticipated DC Universe streaming shows in various stages of production. I know that the trailer was divisive to say the least but with these two behind the scenes I'm confident we're going to get another amazing DC show for the record books. Johns (my man) also wrote several issues of Teen Titans back in the early 2000s. It was a long and successful run that most people told him would be a failure when he pitched it. He sure as hell proved them wrong! Multiple threads from that series have shown up in various other media such as Smallville, Young Justice, and the animated Justice League vs Teen Titans film. Like I said, these guys know what they're doing.
ROOM TO GROW
Dick Grayson's portrayal in the trailer was one of the things people were most upset with. Dick is the leader of the Titans. He's the one with the cool head under pressure. He's the big brother that everybody wants. Well, guess what? That story needs to be told later. We need to start with "How did he get that way?" I'm much more interested in seeing all of these heroes as raw, open wounds from whatever tragedy has come their way. It makes more sense to see them come together and learn from each other to become the family that we're all familiar with from the comic books. Otherwise, we're just telling stories of people that start off liking each other and fighting crime and demons and monsters with smiles on their faces. And that's not good story telling. Let's give them a chance to grow, to fall down, to stumble, to have major screw ups, and then ultimately stand back up and kick ass and be the heroes we all know and love. That's the show I want to watch.
SO MANY CHARACTERS TO ADD IN THE FUTURE
They say in the comics that "Once a Titan, always a Titan." Well we're going to see the beginning of these awesome heroes on the small screen soon enough. And their numbers are sure to grow and change over time. We know that one episode will introduce the Doom Patrol, already scheduled to spin off in their own series, not to mention Jason Todd aka Robin II/Red Hood confirmed to make an appearance in season 1. Then there's rumors of Superboy and Lex Luthor appearing on the series possibly at the end of this season or the beginning of the next. And that's not to mention characters like Kid Flash, Aqualad, Wonder Girl, Ravager, Kid Devil, Cyborg, Tara, Bumblebee and the list could go on! I'm certain we'll see many of these characters before the first season is over. In my mind, it's not Teen Titans without a Wonder Girl or Kid Flash in the ranks. Only time will tell. Heck, I'm drooling just thinking about it! Then again . . . I also haven't eaten much today . . . Oh well! TITANS!
NIGHT IS DARKEST BEFORE DAWN
As I mentioned before, I was quite surprised by the dark tone the show was going for. I was expecting a little more Legends of Tomorrow and less Arrow season 1 but hey . . . here we are! At first I was very put off by this. But the more I thought about it, and I've mentioned this before, it's not a bad thing. In fact, from a storytelling point of view, it's probably the best thing the show can do at this moment. The characters don't know each other, as far as we know. They're all struggling with their own inner demons, in Raven's case a literal demon, and that's putting them all in a dark place. It's going to take all of them together to make it out of the darkness and back into the light that we know these characters inhabit so well. But we're gonna have to see them struggle a bit first and that's fine. We'll get there . . .
Much to the chagrin of so called "fans", superhero movies and TV shows are looking much more diverse than they ever have. Is there anything wrong with that? No. Does it bother some people. Sigh . . . yes. I don't understand why. I'm of the mindset that as long as the actor is good in the role it won't bother me what ethnicity they are. Nobody bats an eye when a theatre troupe puts on an all female cast of Macbeth but if you cast a black woman to play an alien princess then you better jump on your keyboards and fuck up her day with your hate. Personally, I love it. When I was a kid, I looked up to Batman. He was rich, strong, and bad ass. As a white kid, it never occurred to me that I wasn't seeing very many heroes of color or hell even heroes of the female variety. Now that I'm older, it warms my heart to see little girls dressing up as Wonder Woman and African American kids talking about how much Black Panther and his cast means to them. It's a wonderful thing to see and I see why it's necessary during a casting call. But also, let's not forget, the Titans are diverse to begin with - an orange-alien princess, a half demon young woman, a boy with green skin, among others that aren't the (for lack of a better word) traditional heroes we're used to seeing. Again, that's a great thing. It's more "butts in seats" as my theater director likes to say.
Believe it or not I LOVE when my favorite comic books are adapted into a new medium. It means I get to meet these characters all over again in a brand new continuity. While I may not always agree with the choices that the filmmakers and actors make, I always appreciate a new direction. The thing that most "fans" seem to forget is that these characters' stories, histories, costumes, etc are always being reimagined. If it's ok to change it in the comic books, why is it wrong to change it on film? Now I'll admit that a drastic, unnecessary change is a bad thing. Like we don't need Batman as a hard core punk rock band leader with a pet bat named Alfred. Cuz that's not Batman. But an angry Dick Grayson, desperate to escape the shadow of Batman? That's perfect. That's exactly what I want to see. But how did they get there? I love finding that out because it tells me that the creators of the show were fans of the material and wanted to put their own spin on it. You know who does that literally all the time? Your favorite comic book writers and artists. The core of the characters we love is there, but this story is brand new and they're finding their way. Whether or not it works is yet to be seen, but I'm excited at the new possibilities.
One of the best animated series of all time is without a doubt Young Justice. This "cartoon" like Batman: the Animated Series before it wasn't afraid to tell mature, dark stories that were still safe enough for kids to watch and enjoy. In my mind, Justice League: the Animated Series was the perfect template for telling animated JL stories and Young Justice was how you do perfect Teen Titans adventures. I have no doubt the producers are aware of this and will craft an exciting show that's the best parts of Young Justice and the better live action DC Films. Keeping the show an ensemble of DC's best young heroes is the best way to treat this new series. As with any first season of a show, I think there will be some stumbles in storytelling but lucky for the producers and writers they have a perfect template to draw inspiration from and that's Young Justice. I mean that show worked so well establishing each character as an individual and an essential part of the team. Titans would do well to learn from that. Hopefully, we'll see more of the characters in future trailers before the series hits this fall.
As a lifelong DC fan, believe me when I tell you that I'm just as nervous as I am excited for this new series. Is it what I was expecting? Hell no. Does that mean it will be bad? No. Personally, I've loved the darker DC Films and I'm glad the producers weren't afraid to start Titans off that way. Like I said, I think these characters will start in a dark place and then help each other back to the light. It's what families do.
Till Next Time!
JJ - the Comic Junkie!
I am thinking one of the problems that people have with DC's heroes is that they were always larger than life. Marvel has more realistic characters, but in DC you pretty much have literal Gods. So when they are brought down to our level and made relatable, I think people are rejecting it. Almost as if to say "I don't want the hero's journey, I want the hero". I don't know, I'm just spitballing. I'm excited for this. Doing a video on it next weekend among the other trailers. Great blog as always, my friend!ReplyDelete
Thank you sir! And what you're saying makes perfect senseDelete