As the DC movie universe continues to struggle with consistency and quality, it is so refreshing to finally come across a DC TV show as entertaining and as epic as this one. A show which, in my opinion, manages to get the tone and style just right, restrained at times, but constantly teasing much bigger and much more exciting possibilities. I struggle with most superhero TV shows, failing to get more than a season into shows like The Flash, or more than just a handful of episodes into shows like Daredevil or Luke Cage, but this one just got me hooked. It kept me engaged and enthralled through every single episode, and managed to tweak every geeky bone in my body during its final episode. It had a decent cliffhanger finale, an interesting post-credits scene, and I absolutely loved it. What Titans manages to do extremely well is with the introduction of its main characters. It does this slowly, but enjoyably, leaving much of their character traits and abilities to be discovered throughout the season. It takes a while for them all to come together as a team, but even when they do it’s more about them discovering who they all are individually and how to deal with the dangerous situations they find themselves in than just kicking bad guy ass (although they manage to do plenty of that too!). Occasionally, an episode will end on a real cliffhanger, only for the next episode to go off on a tangent, exploring another character and their past. But it just works, developing and enriching the story rather than acting as unnecessary or frustrating season filler.
We kick things off by meeting Dick Grayson, or Batman sidekick Robin as he’s more usually known. He’s currently working as a detective in Detroit having left Gotham City about a year ago. When asked about his reasons for leaving Gotham, he puts it down to problems with a difficult partner, but he still likes to wear the Robin suit occasionally – picking up leads as part of his day job, then dealing out swift vigilante justice as Robin by night. The criminals can’t quite take him seriously though – scouring the skies, wondering whether the more terrifying Batman is going to show up to help out his little sidekick. Robin can more than handle his own though, brutally taking care of business before growling “F*** Batman”. Yep, if you hadn’t already gathered, Titans is a much grittier show than animated show Teen Titans! This version is much darker – we get blood, we get violence, our heroes have sex and they also have potty mouths!
Next up is Rachel Roth, a teenager with purple hair who sleeps in a locked room with crucifixes affixed to the door, fearful of a dark entity living within her. She has a vision of Dick Grayson, who she has never met, witnessing the moment from his childhood when his parents died during their acrobat act, the Flying Graysons. Rachel is being pursued by a number of individuals for reasons that are unclear for much of the season and, following the murder of her guardian, heads to Detroit where she crosses paths with Dick. Meanwhile, a fiery redhead named Koriand’r awakens in a crashed car in Austria, with no memory of who she is. She learns that she has some pretty good combat skills and some cool superhuman abilities. She also discovers that she is on the hunt for Rachel Roth, but she has no idea why. There is also a teenage boy called Gar, who is able to shape shift into a green tinged tiger, but only when he’s naked!
Along the way, as these core characters all come together, we’re introduced to a variety of other weird and wonderful characters from comic book history. Some, such as Hawk and Dove, have a recurring and increasingly important role, earning one of the more enjoyable episodes later on in the season when we delve into their backstory. Other characters, such as Doom Patrol and The Nuclear Family are briefly introduced, only to disappear for now – although I’m sure we’ll be seeing them all again in future seasons (hopefully). But it’s when new Robin Jason Todd appeared on the scene, and then Wonder Woman sidekick Wonder Girl, that I really started geeking out. New Robin is younger and much more sadistic than his predecessor (Robin 2.0 as he puts it), while Wonder Girl now leads a much quieter life. Her and Dick also share a past, with both of them being sidekicks, and we get a brief glimpse of her abilities a couple of times throughout the season. Hopefully with a lot more to come next season.
And then we come to the finale, with things coming to a head and with a serious threat to our planet looming. Dick heads back to Gotham where Commissioner Gordon has been murdered, the streets are rife with crime and Batman has gone off the rails – on a mission to kill The Joker and all of his enemies in Arkham Asylum. I loved this episode. The Joker, Batman, Wayne Manor, the Batcave – all of these things we’re so used to seeing in countless movies and TV shows over the years, but in this context and as part of this world, this huge story that’s been unfolding over 11 episodes, there was something about it that just blew me away. As mentioned before, the show also ends on a fantastic cliffhanger and teases some interesting additions post credits. I cannot wait for more of this!
Season 1 of Titans is currently showing in the UK on Netflix