So, here we are! Titans is the first original programming from the new DC Universe platform, and — if Zack Snyder’s movie universe continues to fall apart — potentially the start of a new chapter for live-action DC superhero adaptations. How does it fare? Well, Titans is a strange beast. Most people are probably familiar with the Teen Titans from kids’ cartoons like Teen Titans Go! or Cartoon Network’s original Teen Titans series. While this new Titans retains several of the main characters from those versions — Robin, Raven, Starfire, and Beast Boy — it is also starkly different in tone and content. The violence takes some getting used to, but it balances well with humor and powerful performances to create an engaging show.
Thanks to the sheer volume of Batman adaptations released in the last decade, it’s become a bit of a joke at how often viewers are presented with footage of the Wayne parents’ murders, as if almost everyone on the planet wasn’t familiar with Batman’s origin story by now. The opening of Titans flips that a bit, by showing us a recreation of Robin’s parents’ deaths — a story most people probably aren’t familiar with! Since this is the original Dick Grayson incarnation of Robin we’re dealing with, his parents were circus acrobats known as the Flying Graysons (a framed promotional poster is still visible in Dick’s modern-day apartment). One fateful night, they went up for a high-wire performance and the ropes snapped, plummeting the Grayson parents to their deaths. Luckily for Dick, a local billionaire named Bruce Wayne happened to be in the audience that night, and took pity on a fellow orphan. Well, that’s how the origin goes in the comics, anyway. Young Rachel Roth’s nightmare stops before that, but rest assured Bruce Wayne’s shadow hangs heavy over this series.
Who is Rachel Roth, you ask? Well, she’s the girl who will become Raven, though she’s not going by that name yet. Right now, she’s a troubled little girl who keeps the neighbors awake at night with her screams. Her mother keeps the door barred and covered in crucifixes, but won’t tell Rachel anything about who or what she is. This makes it even more confusing when Rachel comes home from school to find a mysterious man holding her mother at gunpoint. With very little ado, he then murders Rachel’s mother in front of her. It’s a good indicator of how this show is going to work: People can and will just get brutally murdered at the drop of a hat. There is a consequence to the violence, though, as this gunman finds out when Rachel’s secret demonic personality suddenly emerges to attack him in a fit of rage.
Rather than stick around to sort out who he is and why he killed her mom, Rachel understandably flees her home and grabs the first one-way ticket she can find for a bus to Detroit — not a city you often find represented in superhero stories!
NEXT: F–k Batman