- DC Universe’s first original series, “Titans,” is a dark reimagining of a classic comic book superhero team.
- It’s violent and moody – similar to Zack Snyder’s DC films.
- But fans who can accept that will find plenty to enjoy in the series.
There’s a scene in “Deadpool 2” in which the title character says, “So dark! You sure you’re not from the DC universe?”
It’s one of many jokes satirizing Marvel’s competition for its grit and gloom, but there’s a lot of truth behind it. Director Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” notably, were panned by critics for being devoid of the kind of joy seen in other, more fun superhero movies today.
Last month, DC launched a new streaming service appropriately called DC Universe, and its first original series, “Titans,” premieres October 12. It finds Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin (Brenton Thwaites), recruiting old allies Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove (Minka Kelly) to help him protect a young girl with demonic powers named Rachel (Teagan Croft).
Deadpool may have been referring to the DC movies with his “So dark!” quip, but he might as well have been referring to the DC Universe streaming service itself, if “Titans” is any indication.
After the two episodes I’ve seen, it’s apparent that the show is more reminiscent of Snyder’s take on DC’s superheroes, which is perplexing considering that DC and Warner Bros. are pivoting away from that tone in future films like “Aquaman,” “Shazam!” and “Wonder Woman 1984.”
While “Titans” isn’t connected to DC’s film universe, and therefore doesn’t come with its baggage, it’s hard not to notice the similarities to the Snyder-era of those movies, both in the show’s tone and the overall structure of its plot. Like “Batman v Superman,” “Titans” introduces an already established universe where Batman (who is referred to by name but isn’t seen) has been operating for years in Gotham City. In fact, he already has a young protege.
But this Robin is not your grandpa’s Robin. By day, he’s a detective, and by night, a brooding vigilante who has distanced himself from Batman to carry out his own brand of bloody justice.
That’s the brand of the entire show. “Titans” is a dark reimagining of a classic comic book superhero team. It’s not just dark in mood (the body count is high and everyone seems to be struck with an unusual amount of angst), but in lighting, too. It’s hard to make out what is happening in most scenes because it’s so damn dark. Someone turn on a light!
But that’s not to say that the show won’t find an audience. There is plenty to enjoy in “Titans,” and as a TV series, it has time to develop its world and characters more than the DC Extended Universe films did. There are some funny bits and Anna Diop, who plays Koriand’r/Starfire, is a standout character in the first episode. I would have preferred to see her more.
DC fans who can accept that this is unlike any previous interpretation of these beloved characters will like it. For those who can’t accept that, it will be harder to enjoy. DC Universe has lauded itself as a “service for the fans.” But it’s going to be reminded very quickly of the fact that fandom can either be your greatest ally, or biggest enemy.
Watch a new trailer for the series below:
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