My Problems with Titans

As someone who has been reading Titans books for over a decade, I consider myself something of a fan of the team. Geoff Johns run was the first I read (after being a huge Young Justice fan for so long) and then I decided to go all in and find back issues of the Perez and Wolfman run. Point is I’ve been around the block, so to speak, when it comes to the Teen Titans.

Suffice it to say, I was actually really excited when I heard the announcement of the Titans series, way back when, and remained hopefully optimistic even when the “F- Batman” trailer came out.

I knew they were going to make changes and not stay too faithful to the original Wolfman/Perez run. I was a huge fan of the animated series, so obviously I’m accustomed to adaptation.

With all of that preamble out of the way…Titans is…not a good adaptation of the source material. Forget changes to the story, I expect that, but the series fundamentally gets the cores of these characters so wrong. It’s surprising to me since Johns, a writer who’s work I respect, is on this series. If anyone should understand these characters I would think it would be him.

The core of my problem with Titans is the bastardization of characters with such rich history and personality. Dick Grayson, an optimist, a leader, and a loyal friend, is now a bitter, violent, lost soul who was assumedly “corrupted by Batman”. This version of Dick has seemingly no problems sleeping with the girlfriend of an ally, teammate, and presumably friend, Hank Hall. Obviously, we don’t know the full story there, but the fact is, this is a poor facsimile of Dick Grayson. Dick is just one of the characters who seems to have been adapted so miserably to this bleak universe.

At the heart of the original “New Teen Titans” series was a human drama with superhuman characters. There was so much to work with within that framework. Instead, they decided to go with a gritty, violent take that abandons the hopeful, youthful, and optimistic stories of any of the Titans books before the Flashpoint reboot.

tl;dr This series is missing the heart of the stories that inspired it. And Dick lives up to his namesake.

I hope the series and characters improve as the season progresses.

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I believe they will become how we expected them to be like but not until the last episode or starting off season 2. We have to let the story arcs play out.

I never expected it to be like bang, boom…continuing from rebirth, ta da! This season is about origins and world building in an else world. Look back at many new beginnings Titans and New Titans stories through out history. It was never all rainbows and sunshines until the cartoon!

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I completely understand that it isn’t going to be all happy and bright. The original Wolfman run started out with the Robin unsure of what to do with his life, and Kid Flash didn’t even want to be a hero. The point I was trying to make wasn’t that it was “too dark” just that it is incredibly tone deaf, almost unrealistically gritty and ultimately mis-characterizing the Titans. Season 1 of Netflix’s Daredevil is also quite serious and more dark in tone, but at least it captures the core of Matt Murdock as a character and doesn’t compromise him to make the story work.

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It’s an origin story. They’re not supposed to be who they are at their core yet…

Marv Wolfman endorsed the show.

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And Dick has had bouts like this in the comics.

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I’m sure Dick Grayson will go back to being an optimist as the series progresses. Read the NIGHTWING YEAR ONE story arc. He was lost after leaving behind his Robin persona, before redefining himself as Nightwing. I’m confident this is where the show is heading. Grayson will stop being Robin, especially after accepting Jason Todd as the new boy wonder. And then, Grayson will become Nightwing. The show just has to build up the characters so that they can develop a friendship, and give Grayson a reason to pull himself out of the dark funk he’s in.

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I must have read a different Wolfman/Perez run. In that, Starfire was constantly trying to destroy people and the rest of the team wouldn’t let her. This is Dick like what is in Nightwing. Raven is clearly struggling with the good/evil nature of her character, which was also all through Wolfman/Perez. Beastboy/Changeling is the same too. Showing his “cute and cuddly” side (the tiger) and then being distracted by something shiny (a video game).

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Yup. Dick is probably my main complaint for the show. Dick Grayson is supposed to be this positive dude who has fun being Robin. I would argue, that Dick is more like Superman than Batman. In this, Dick is straight up Batman. Tim Drake or Damian are more like Batman then Dick. But the show is still awesome. It has its problems, but it still is my favorite show right now. And btw, Robins fight scenes are amazing.

Hm, it seems that people think I expect these characters to be exactly as they are in their prime. I’m well aware it was an origin story. The Wolfman/Perez run was also an origin story. Dick Grayson was the well-adjusted Robin. Even when he had doubts, or even when he was unsure of what to do with his life, he didn’t become brutal like Batman could. This is supposed to be his post-Batman/ pre-Nightwing era, and he’s behaving as if he’s Devin Grayson-era Nightwing. Nightwing Year One, which I think someone mentioned, never had Dick become so lost that he turned his back on his personal ideals that made him leave Batman in the first place. I totally understand that he’s becoming the character we all know and love, but these early days will form the foundation of his character. A brutish, inconsiderate man.

Someone else mentioned that Starfire was someone who was constantly trying to destroy people and Raven was struggling with her nature. You’re certainly correct, but Starfire wasn’t some amnesiac dealing with human criminals. She was a princess who was given away into slavery to save her home, which was a warrior culture. Raven fought against the teachings of the monks of Azerath, and he desire to fight against her father. Only later in the series did she struggle with a literal dark side. I can’t say much about Beast Boy in this series, but so far, he seems to be the most like his character…except he isn’t rich and living in a mansion.

I really want to enjoy this series, honestly. I’m not trying to hate on it, I just really hope the writers do these characters justice. I’m happy that Wolfman approves, but that honestly doesn’t affect my personal opinion.

Who is to say he’ll stay brutish or inconsiderate? Isn’t it the point of character development to move him away from that

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That’s fine. It just seems as if you want a copy-paste straight from the comics which doesn’t always work and wouldn’t attract new and old fans. Raven still could be a princess in this show. We haven’t learned anything about her backstory. Same for Raven.

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Nightwing has been brutal. He killed The Joker in The Joker’s Last Laugh and then drew his insignia on the chest of a thug with the thug’s blood in the New 52. Remember in NTT Annual #2 when he wanted to avenge Adrian Chase? He just about wanted Scrapelli dead

Guy was trained by a guy who brutalizes people and he gets dark. That’s the whole thing about vigilantes which is what Robin is. They don’t do soft punches.

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Despite some of the more extreme violence, this seems way more in line with the original Wolfman/Perez Titans than the animated series ever was.

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Yawn

You’re never gonna get out of the phantom zone with that attitude

It seems like I’m just not getting my point across accurately. I never said I wanted the show to be a carbon copy of the comics. They obviously don’t have the budget to do that. What I’m talking about is a faithful adaptation to another form of media. The Nolanverse Batman movies are the best example of taking over-the-top characters, grounding them for a different audience but keeping their core elements…except maybe Bane from TDKR. I’m not saying Dick Grayson isn’t allowed to be brutal, but even when he was brutal he had foresight, intelligence, and compassion. Scarapelli is actually an excellent example of Dick being weak due to circumstances, but the show tries to imply that that’s just how he is now. Using the New 52 as an example is just going to fall flat with me, since I think most of the New 52 changes were crap. I really appreciate how respectfully you are trying to convince me, ANerdWonder, but I don’t believe the show is good in that respect. Even IF Dick ends up becoming more like who he should be from the outset, the writer’s seemed to think that this decision would improve upon the story, which I don’t agree with. I’ll hold my breath for Starfire, I guess, but Raven is pretty much a lost hope at this point.

To Jay_Kay, I think we’ll have to agree to disagree. I don’t think the animated series is perfect, nor do I think it’s the pinnacle of adaptation, but it definitely captures the heart that the classic New Teen Titans run had better than this depressing mess.

To AngryMrBungle, you may be right.