Titans is an interesting experiment with super hero content. DC Universe has rebranded the teenage heroes as a far darker, diverse group. Titans takes a lot of risks with the characters, and the world of comic lore around them. Not every choice pays off, but there’s never a dull moment in the show’s first season.
The series takes an incredibly dark look at the heroes. If you hate Teen Titans Go! for how comical it made the characters, you’ll probably like this show. The series has a borderline horror tone, as it digs into the most frightening applications of the heroes’ powers. It’s unlike any of the current DC offerings, in either film or television. This fresh new take on the characters helps to keep up the intrigue and excitement of the show.
When the series is focused, it tells a fascinating story. While Titans has a four-person squad, the story mostly revolves around Raven (Teagan Croft) and Robin (Brenton Thwaites). The series largely focuses on Raven’s awakening and Robin going solo. This story helps to drive not only the team coming together, but also the horrifying implications of Raven’s origin. Titans has a lot of fun reinventing the DC universe, but when it revolves around these two characters specifically, it spins a strong yarn.
Unfortunately, Titans does get a bit distracted with all its moving parts. In reinventing the canon of DC characters, Titans spends a lot of time away from the main characters. For example, as fun as Hawk & Dove are, they serve next to no purpose in this season. Their involvement in the main story is over and done with by episode two. Yet for some reason, they get their own episode near the end of the season, but they still don’t enter the main story in the finale. These frequent breaks away from the titular Titans leads to an oversaturated season.
This is especially apparent in the season finale. Titans builds to an exciting standoff with Raven’s father that abruptly ends. There’s no great conflict to end the season, aside from Robin’s nightmare with a technically-present Batman. Cliffhangers are well and good, but there’s no climax to all the action Titans set up. It’s a huge loss of momentum, and a real low note to end the season on. The choice to spin out yet another dark DC universe within Titans is a prime example of the series biting off more than it could chew.
What makes the series work isn’t necessarily its darkness, but its weirdness.Titans tends to use its dark tone as a novelty, reveling in the fact they can say “hey – fuck Batman.” However, it’s more fun to see how much Titans embraces the strange aspects of the universe. The series doesn’t conflate “grittiness” with “realistic” – it’s still an unashamed superhero comic book show. It’s that refreshing approach that makes the series morbidly fun.
Despite its messiness, Titans is an interesting watch. When the season sticks to its core story, it’s engrossing. The seasons’ main problem is trying to reinvent too much of the DC canon. And it’s hard to say if that post-credits introduction will help or hinder Titans finding its heart. Hopefully season two will refocus and resolve its final episode’s drop-off. Because when Titans lets the titular team shine, it’s strong. With its dark-horror tone, and a plethora of DC characters, Titans is definitely unlike any other superhero TV show.
STAND-OUT PERFORMANCES: Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Alan Ritchson
STAND-OUT EPISODES: “Doom Patrol,” “Titans,” “Koriand’r”