Movies / Comics Movie Reviews

Review: Titans


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By Philip Schweier
March 30, 2021 - 09:57

Had someone told me I would someday watch a live action TV show based on the Teen Titans, I wouldn’t have believed them. Yet here we are. I wish I could say I enjoyed it as much as the comic book series.
 

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Brenton Thwaites as Robin
The TV series noticeably drops “Teen” from the title, because it’s unlikely we can accept 31-year-old Brenton Thwaites as a teenage Boy Wonder – nor most of the actors and their respective characters. It deviates significantly from its source material in many ways, but that’s to be expected with any comic-to-film adaptation. But in some respects, it remains true to its roots.

When the Marv Wolfman and George Perez launched their version in 1979, it started with Raven bringing the former Teen Titans back together – along with some new faces – to battle her demonic father, Trigon. The first season follows a similar story arc, as Rachel Roth – Raven’s live action counterpart played by Teagan Croft – develops occult powers she doesn’t comprehend. Running afoul of the law, she is aided by Dick Grayson, semi-retired from his role as Batman’s sidekick and now a Detroit police detective.

Rachel is being hunted by the Nuclear Family, a psychotic team of assassins employed by Trigon’s worshipers. Also on her trail is Kory Anders, a woman who is introduced as an international high-class hooker, later an amnesiac and eventually an intergalactic princess with solar super-powers. As Kory’s memory returns, she realizes Rachel is to be protected, not hunted.

Episode 4 is entitled “Doom Patrol,” introducing the cast of a back door pilot for another series. It also features Gar Logan, known in the comics first as Beast Boy of the Doom Patrol, then Changeling with the New Teen Titans, then Beast Boy again. As in the comics, he leaves one team for the other.

Other Titans team members are Hawk and Dove, played by Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly, and Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie). We are also introduced to the second Robin, Jason Todd (Curran Walters).

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The first season is enjoyable, as the team is assembled little by little, with allusions to the past incarnation of the team, and background on some of the characters. They rally behind Rachel to protect her and the world from the evil multi-dimensional demon Trigon, but as in the original comic book story, the Titans become his pawns, and the season ends with a cliff hanger, rather than a solid conclusion.

In comparison, the second season is rather disappointing. It introduces the Titans’ long-time nemesis, Deathstroke, played by Esai Morales. His portrayal is surprisingly good, but other characters fall rather flat.

A rather pathetic presentation of Doctor Light debuts, and an equally dubious version of Aqualad is featured in flashback, an unfortunate casualty of a failed Deathstroke contract.

In a bid to locate the assassin, the Titans befriend Deathstroke’s son, Jericho, who also conveniently possesses a super-power. That storyline cements Deathstroke’s vendetta against the Titans, leading to the introduction of his daughter, Rose. Much of her time with the Titans is spent as a guest to be protected, which somehow earns her special status with the team.

Season two also introduces Conner/Superboy, a clone formed from the merged DNA of both Superman and Lex Luthor. As a result, he is both conflicted and naïve, and his role is that of a deus ex machina, a convenient plot device to serve when needed.

And herein lies the problem with season two: it diverges from the team story arc, favoring instead individual storylines – many in flashback – for Dick, for Conner, for Jason, for Rachel, and for Hank and Dawn. Kory, Rose and Gar have very little to do over the course of the season, serving primarily as foils for other characters.

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Alan Ritchson as Hawk
A significant addition to season two was Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne. He seems a bit old for the role, but when paired with Brenton Thwaites, it’s easier to accept the two of them as an older version of the Dynamic Duo. Glen also delivers his dialogue in a fair imitation of Kevin Conroy, which only improves with each appearance.

Titans has been renewed for a third season, though the audience can expect some changes in the line-up. Alan Ritchson has a new role on another series, so Hawk and Dove are not expected. I don’t have an issue with that, as I’ve grown weary of the beard-stubbled, Sonny Crocket look some super-heroes have adopted recently. Hawk had really taken that as far as he could.

As stated, Titans has followed the story arc of the comic book series, starting with Trigon and then Deathstroke. Kory’s sister Blackfire was introduced as the series continued, and we can presume she will play a significant role in season three of Titans – not that I’m terribly interested. I doubt very much I’ll tune in.


Last Updated: September 6, 2021 - 08:15

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