Source: Wikimedia Commons
It’s Actually Good
Arts & Culture Editor
Looking at the early trailers and the dark and gritty aura which hangs over most DC cinematic properties, I was ready to watch its pilot episode and lump it with the rest of the live-action flops on Netflix. To my surprise, the first episode quelled any fears I got from the trailers and got me interested enough to continue watching.
What must be understood right away (that the trailers failed to accurately explain) is that Titans is not a gritty live-action remake of the hit 2003-2006 animated show Teen Titans, but a reimagining of the team first shown in the 1980s comic book series.
Though Dick Grayson dons the suit of Robin, avid fans of the Batman series will recognize this show’s iteration as more of an early Nightwing than anything else. Avoiding any spoilers, the Robin in Titans often steals the show and carries a lot of the show’s intrigue on the slow discovery of his reimagined backstory and his inner conflict after leaving Batman.
Kory (who’s never referred to as Starfire for a very good reason) is so different from her Teen Titans version that she doesn’t even share the same personality or the same powers. Instead she uses the same fire abilities she had in the original comics and has her much more mature look and demeanor. Her story is one big spoiler that is best left in the dark for now.
Garfield/Beast Boy was my favourite surprise. Though he doesn’t appear much in the first few episodes, his arrival signals the lighter tone of the rest of the season and his familiar yet new fun loving personality drives the point home. Through some sorcery of clever writing and visual effects, he retains the character he was in previous iterations but is shown to be a little more mature and perfectly adapted to the modern age.
The centerpiece of Titans is Rachel Roth, who at first may come off as the annoying brat/edgy goth girl advertised in the trailers, but is slowly revealed to be just as capable and nuanced as the rest of the team. Most of the first season’s plot (and probably the second season’s) revolves around her finding out the truth about her past and discovering her powers.
What Titans does so well is presenting the audience with typical superhero characters and situations, then turn them on their head in new and interesting ways. Instead of retreading the same ground by adhering strictly to the source material or making it so dark and “realistic” that it loses any sense of fun (cough, cough, current DCEU, cough, cough), it picks interesting concepts from the comics and treats them as the base for new captivating stories.
Though Titans is a special treat for fans of DC Comics and their characters, anyone who enjoys the CW Arrowverse (The Flash, Supergirl, etc.) or Netflix Defenders (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, etc.) shows will most probably have a good time watching it too. In fact, I know several people that enjoyed watching Titans despite never having seen a superhero show before.
Originally Published in Bandersnatch Vol. 48 Issue 07 on January 30th, 2018