WARNING: This article contains SPOILERS for the Titans season 1 finale
Titans was so intensely focused on the character of Dick Grayson that it might as well have been a Robin TV series. While Titans was nominally supposed to be centered around the character of Rachel Roth (aka Raven) and the group of unusual people that came together because of her dark destiny, most of the episodes in Titans season 1 seemed more interested in Dick Grayson than anyone else in the cast. Indeed, Raven’s story was frequently put on-hold so that Robin’s personal issues could be examined in detail.
Inspired by the New Teen Titans comic book series created by George Perez and Marv Wolfman, Titans was the first original series produced for the DC Universe streaming service. The intention of the series was to offer a mature take on the classic characters, who are best known to modern audiences from the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! animated series. With brutal violence, partial nudity, and adult situations, the show was largely successful in presenting a different take on the standard superhero show. Unfortunately, many feel that Titans failed to present a compelling image of the titular superheroes, with the series taking almost half of its season to introduce all the Titans to each other and the season ending with most of the show’s subplots unresolved.
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The Titans TV series’ chief problem, however, is its dependence on Robin as a character. On the surface, there are many logical reasons for Robin to be the central character of Titans. Apart from being the main character on the show, who is largely recognizable outside of the world of superhero fandom by virtue of his partnership with Batman, Dick Grayson was the spiritual heart of the Titans in the comics. Though his personality varies from writer to writer, Dick is generally written as a gregarious sort, who knows everyone in the superhero world, gets along with everybody, and has contacts everywhere. Titans acknowledged this several times, both in-story with Dick seeking out his old friends and with a quick Easter egg that showed several DC characters on Dick’s contact list.
Given that, it makes sense that the storylines for Robin and Raven should support each other, with Dick using his connections to help Rachel investigate her strange new powers and her mother’s murder while he also tries to find a new purpose in his life, apart from being Robin. Unfortunately, the mysteries of Raven’s life were continually placed on the back-burner while Dick dealt with his own personal drama – first by leaving Raven and the rest of the team to join with with the new Robin, Jason Todd (in the episode “Jason Todd”), to confront a new enemy that is killing people from his past. Then, Dick abandons his team again to ask his old friend, Wonder Girl (in the episode “Donna Troy”) for advice on moving on from a superheroic life. Titans season 1 ended with an episode set almost entirely within Dick’s dream-world, where he – now married with children – is dragged out of retirement to confront a murderous Batman.
Admittedly, these divergent stories were well-plotted and showcased how well actor Brenton Thwaites had captured the spirit of Dick Grayson from the comics. Unfortunately, this focus on Robin gave short shrift to the rest of the Titans team, with Starfire’s amnesia storyline remaining largely unexplored until the penultimate episode, along with Raven’s story as a whole. The pacing of the series’ other subplots were also strange, with Hawk and Dove being introduced in the second episode and then given an origin story Titans’ episode 9, after having been left in the hospital for over half the season with no updates on their status. Again, Titans exhibited situations that were long forgotten only to suddenly reappear in the spotlight several episodes later. Interestingly, almost every time another subplot resurfaced, it was because it had something to do with Dick Grayson.
This left the Titans seeming like supporting players in their own show, as Robin was in the spotlight to such a degree that the Titans TV series felt less like an ensemble piece and more like a drama focused on Dick Grayson. Thankfully, this state of affairs seems unlikely to continue in Titans season 2. The Titans season 1 finale ended with Dick Grayson as a thrall of Trigon and a frantic Raven screaming for the person she knew to return to her. Hopefully, this will lead to the rest of the team coming together to save the day without their leader once Titans season 2 starts up.
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