[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Director: Brad Anderson
Writers: Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Teagan Croft, Anna Diop, Ryan Potter, Lindsey Gort
Dick Grayson has found a new home in Detroit when a girl named Rachel is brought to him with serious problems, while a young woman named Kori Anders wakes up with no memory of who she is.
Titans is finally here! The first DC Universe Original series premiered on Friday, and I gotta say, I really enjoyed this episode. The Teen Titans is a group I was mostly familiar with from the animated shows Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go. I’ve read a few random issues of the various Teen Titans comics, but it wasn’t one I got into. So when I heard they were doing a live-action version for DC Universe, I was definitely intrigued, but not as invested as some.
Then the first trailer dropped with the infamous “F*** Batman” line, and I was hooked. This was a Teen Titans I had never seen before; a dark, mature audience version of the characters I only knew as light and fun. Were there issues in that first trailer that made me worried? Sure, and some of those issues remained in the episode (which I’ll discuss in the Negatives section), but the episode as a whole showed lots of promise.
This episode centered on two main stories: Dick Grayson trying to help Rachel Roth after the murder of her mother, and the mysterious Kory Anders who wakes up with no memory of who she is or where she’s been. Brenton Thwaites as an angry Robin on the verge of being Nightwing was a perfect fit. You could feel his pain, his anger at Bruce, and you instantly have a sense of why he would leave Gotham behind. I also thought making him a cop was an interesting choice. It’s a nice pull from the comics that some might not be aware of. And tying him into the events going on with Raven (or Rachel as we currently know her) was a nice way to bring them together. Teagan Croft did a hell of a job as Rachel Roth, bringing forth both a vulnerability and a terrifying darkness. I can’t wait to see her evolution into the Raven we all know and love. And bring on Trigon!!
Then we have Anna Diop as Kory Anders (aka Koriand’r/Starfire). She was the one character I was worried about, but not from an acting standpoint, as Anna is a very talented actress. As I said, I mostly know these characters from the animated shows, and Starfire, in those, is a bit of a naive, dizzy kind of character. I was worried that they would go this route, which I don’t think would work well for the tone they were trying to set. Luckily they went the opposite direction, at least from what we’ve seen in this first episode, as Kory is a strong, competent badass who seems to understand the world.
We even got a nice little glimpse at Beast Boy at the very end of the episode. I love his look while in animal form and can’t wait to see him in action.
Now, as you can probably tell, I did really enjoy the show, but as I said, it isn’t without flaws, with one of the biggest being the sheer amount of violence. I understand they are going for a darker, more mature tone, but I wasn’t ready for the Titans to be killers. I don’t usually have a problem with this, as I was one of the defenders of the BvS version of Batman, but I felt like they may have gone a little overboard, and from what I’ve heard, that trend continues into the next episode.
Another problem I had was the music in the scene with Rachel right after Robin took down the guys in the alley. You had this very intense sequence, followed by a scene with Rachel set to “S.O.B.” by Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats. Even as I was watching it, it felt awkward and a bit out of place. Honestly, the song would have worked better in the scene with Robin in the alley, and would have provided a little bit of levity in that grimdark sequence.
The last negative, which is extremely minor, is that I wish the series was set in Blüdhaven instead of Detroit. But that’s just me as a fan wanting that little bit more of a connection to the comics.
Overall, this was a really good first episode of this series. It set the tone, and gave a nice introduction to some of the characters, while leaving us some questions for future episodes.