Titans boss previews Superboy's 'fraught' dynamic with the team in season 2
The past is coming back to haunt Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) and the rest of the team in Titans‘ second season.
In the gritty DC Universe drama’s first season, the titular super-team consisted of Dick, Kory (Anna Diop), Gar/Beast Boy (Ryan Potter), and Rachel (Teagan Croft); however, when the show returns Friday, the makeshift family has grown to include Jason Todd/Robin (Curran Walters), as well as Hawk (Alan Ritchson), Dove (Minka Kelly), and Donna Troy (Conor Leslie), all three of whom worked with Dick on the original Titans team many years ago. Unfortunately, their shared history will cause problems for them once they reunite (in other words: Their arch-enemy Deathstroke will rear his head again).
“There’s a lot you don’t about what happened in the period [before season 1 started],” showrunner/executive producer Greg Walker tells EW. “A close viewer would notice that there’s history between Hank, Dawn, Dick, and Donna in the past incarnation of Titans, and we excavate those secrets — the sins of the past.”
Below, EW chats with Walker about Superboy’s (Joshua Orpin) long-awaited introduction, the show’s take on Deathstroke (Esai Morales), and how the new batch of episodes compares to season 1.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Titans is still in production, right? How’s the season going?
GREG WALKER: I was up late writing the finale for Titans, so I’m racing into the office [now]. It’s fun. This season, we allowed ourselves really to be a comic book show in the finale. We work the edges of what you can do in the genre in the season — in the kind of grounded, emotional, psychological territory — and now we’re back. It’s more of a celebration of what Titans can be. I hope/feel it is earned. That’s my goal.
What lessons did you learn from season 1 that you applied to season 2?
We had to find out what really worked in the show. We stumbled upon those things, I think: A combination of heart, humor, and action seemed to be the right ingredients for what made Titans work, while sticking with the more grounded presentation of the world and not super heightened.
Season 1 was very much about the Titans finding each other. How does season 2 compare to season 1 in that regard?
It’s about family this season, and what happens when you’re together, how hard it is to stay together. We bring in a lot more cast members this season, and we’ll get to it, but that makes the mix at times a lot more volatile.
All of them are wearing their super-suits in the new trailer, which isn’t something we saw much of in season 1. Is the trailer representative of the season as a whole?
Yes and no. On our show, the action works and we push it with the action, and there’s super-suits and fighting. But there’s as much in-fighting within the family as there is fighting outside criminals.
What can you share about the show’s take on Deathstroke, who has been portrayed on screen several times already?
It’s tough because he’s been done pretty well and extensively in other universes. Our focus is always on relationships first and character. So, it’s not just so much his skillset, which is awesome and formidable, but more about his relationships with his children, his wife. We have Jericho. We have Ravager. We have his wife. That family approach also applies to how we tell the Deathstroke story and the sins of his past. We do a Deathstroke origin story in this as well; we get to see how Deathstroke became Deathstroke.
Season 1 ended with a Connor breaking free from Cadmus. What can we expect from Superboy’s introduction into the world of Titans?
He’s really the Geoff Johns creation of Superboy, trying to stay faithful to that — which is a struggle between good and evil, light and dark. In many ways, that character ports in a lot of the themes from the previous season that the other people struggled with. He has actual genetic reasons to struggle with it that we reveal. Also, the actor Joshua Orpin — he’s a real discovery — is phenomenal. He just stepped right into the role.
What is Superboy’s dynamic with the rest of the Titans?
Fraught. He doesn’t want to fit in, so that’s the first thing. He has no natural allegiance. He doesn’t know who Superman is. It doesn’t make sense to him, this allegiance of crime-fighting/family. He really is kind of in an adolescent phase in our show, and he’s struggling with his identity, as he will throughout the whole run on Titans. Being a Titan is about twenty on his list of things he’s trying to figure out right now.
Dick’s identity crisis drove the majority of season 1. Once we get passed him being corrupted by Trigon, what is Dick’s facing this season? Is he still struggling with that identity crisis?
We channel that identity crisis more into his relationship with Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) and how that relationship is evolving from father-son, to rebellious son and estranged father, into more of a relationship of equals. So it has much to do with Dick’s own relationship with how he views himself with Bruce, as it does with Bruce’s relationship with Dick as a father.
How is Dick handling the team’s expansion?
I think it’s the adage, “Leaders are not born. They’re made.” I’m butchering it, but that’s roughly it. I think that’s what his journey is this year. He has a natural tendency toward isolation and that does not fit well when you need to lead a family. So, that’s his struggle.
The trailer also had a few more light-hearted comedic moments. Can we expect the season to have more those in general?
In spots [laughs]. Definitely that’s where we should be angling more. I’m laughing just because they did pull that [for the trailer] and we do have moments more of that. We have some actors that can really deliver with that and we have some writers who can really deliver it. There’s this natural dramatic weight to Titans that I guess I’m drawn toward, that will sometimes push past the comedic moments. But yeah, we have them. Just reading the finale, there’s a ton of them in the finale and they’re sprinkled throughout. We have some funny writers, so hopefully that comes up on the page. If it doesn’t, I’m 100 percent to blame.
When season 2 was announced at New York Comic-Con last year, Geoff Johns said that Marv Wolfman would be very happy with what you guys had in store for it. Can you elaborate a bit more on what he meant?
We launch the Titans Tower, which [was] a huge goal of mine this year — to give us a place to hang, to explore those relationships. We were a road show in season 1 and in season 2, we jump right into Titans Tower. That was a big part of [Wolfman and George Pérez’s] books. The show moves to San Francisco. As a native San Franciscan, it’s fun for me to write about that, and there’s something energetic about the Titans Tower as a locus for drama and connection and family.
What are you most excited for people to see this season?
I’m excited about exploring the old Titans past that’s hinted at in season 1. You get to see what pulled them together [and] what drove them apart. I’m excited in the Bruce-Dick relationship. Bruce Wayne is really good at being Batman. He’s not very good at being Bruce Wayne. I like writing this flawed man who’s trying to make sense of the relationships in his life, primarily, and the most important one, with Dick Grayson. That feel under-explored. And I love the action and the super-suits.
Titans premieres Friday on DC Universe, with new episodes released weekly.