Directed by: Various
Written by: Various
Starring: Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Curran Walters, Chelsea Zhang, Conor Leslie, Joshua Orpin, Minka Kelly, Alan Ritchson, Esai Morales
Review by: Eric Joseph
Say what you want about Titans‘ first season, but I very much enjoyed it. In my eyes, it played out like an extended origin story for one of DC’s premier superhero groups. Sure, they may not have been a “team” in the purest sense of the word, but I found it compelling to see how they all came together under the looming threat of Trigon.
This time around, Deathstroke (Esai Morales) is the big bad, and he shows up wearing the most badass-looking costume the character has thus far sported in the live action realm. The comic book scholars amongst you will no doubt draw more than a few parallels to Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s The Judas Contract story arc, but this is in no way an exact adaptation. I’d swear there’s also some influence from Teen Titans: Earth One thrown in for good measure, although that particular graphic novel’s inspiration on the show itself is very minor. Trust me, there are more than a few surprises along the way.
Despite Titans probably being DC Universe’s most divisive series, I firmly believe there’s a lot to dig about its sophomore outing.
For starters, that certain element missing from season 1 becomes apparent by the second episode, and that’s our heroes training like an actual team. Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) takes the younger, burgeoning heroes back to Titans Tower in San Francisco so that they may learn the ropes from the former Boy Wonder himself. If you were to ask me, Curran Walters is perhaps the breakout star, as I love his F-bombing Jason Todd so much. He may have been around for a few episodes during the first season, sure, but this is where he truly comes into his own.
The overarching feud with Deathstroke, meanwhile, is something Teen Titans fans have been dying to see adapted to live action, and that aspect doesn’t disappoint. It was pretty rad to learn that a previous iteration of the squad had already existed within this continuity, as several episodes provide flashbacks to when they were still running with Aqualad (Drew Van Acker) and Jericho (Chella Man). Rose Wilson (Chelsea Zhang) ties it all together in the present-day, but I’m not going to spoil how.
If there’s to be one other bullet point to mention before moving on, that’d be how this series finally brought the Nightwing persona into live action. Once again, TV accomplishes something the movies haven’t been able to, with Dick Grayson evolving beyond his beginnings as Robin into a formidable hero in his own right. The big moment doesn’t occur until the season finale itself, so be sure to stick around for that.
Despite all the awesomeness just mentioned, this season falls far from perfection. When we get to the latter episodes, Dick drops a proverbial bomb that fractures the team – just as things were getting good. The reason behind it is flimsy at best, as even a hallucination of Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) soon points out. As much as you’ll root for Dick once he dons the Nightwing costume, you’ll come close to hating him when he rivals even Riverdale‘s Archie Andrews when it comes to making poor decisions.
More than likely, this detour of sorts was made in an effort to incorporate some filler material. Still, that shouldn’t be done so late in a given season. If you took out that nonsense, then the final showdown with Deathstroke could have easily arrived in, say, the ninth or tenth episode instead of the thirteenth. I think the best solution may be for subsequent seasons to clock in at eight or ten episodes total, so that the writers be forced to pen tighter stories.
As for bonus features, there’s only one to be consumed: “Jason Todd: Fate by the Fans,” which recalls how comic book readers voted to kill off the second Robin back in the 1980’s. This choice, as you may know, was once again given midway through season 2’s original airing, with the viewers supposedly voting for Jason to live. Truth be told, I’m not so sure his fate was really ever in anyone’s hands in this instance, because there was never any hiatus between episodes, and I’m pretty sure two distinct cuts of every episode to follow were never shot. That aside, the featurette is enjoyable – even if a fair amount of it was recycled from one originally included on the Batman: Under the Red Hood Blu-ray.
Even if Titans arguably doesn’t touch Doom Patrol or Swamp Thing, I still love it to pieces. I’ve grown really attached to these interpretations of the characters, and I’m definitely on board for a third season and whatever may hopefully follow. That being said, I recommend adding this set to your home video collection.