Superheroes are coming to the small screen in a brand new way with DC Universe’s Titans, which will provide a long-awaited live action adaptation of the Teen Titans. The first trailers pointed toward a surprisingly dark series, especially for viewers who are more accustomed to the relatively lighter DC series like Supergirl and The Flash. Dick Grayson as Robin is seen dropping an F-bomb and getting extremely rough. The creative team behind Titans addressed the need to balance violence with a tone that’s not overwhelmingly dark, and here’s what executive producer Greg Walker had to say:
We never wanted to make it super dark, and it doesn’t stay that way. Dick’s relationship with violence and where he is at this point in his life, self-imposed exile away from Bruce, required that we talk honestly about his relationship with violence. The others don’t have that same relationship, so over time the show changes several tones and several genres. But at that moment, we weren’t really inspired by any specific predecessor, we were more inspired by getting these people where they are authentically in their arc.
Dick Grayson, a.k.a. Robin, was revealed a long time ago as the one who builds the new team, and the violent footage released so far has largely revolved around Robin. As Batman’s former sidekick, he would certainly have the training to knock his enemies down a little too hard for them to get up any time soon, and he might have less restraint after leaving Batman behind. Starfire, Beast Boy, and Raven won’t have the same bat-shaped chip on their shoulder. Being replaced by a new Robin probably won’t help chill him out! According to Greg Walker’s comments at the red carpet of the Titans premiere, Robin’s violence doesn’t mean the show’s tone overall is violent.
Co-executive producer John Fawcett shared his own point-of-view regarding the balance between Titans‘ tone and violence:
I think the thing going in was we always wanted to make a superhero show that was kinda gritty and edgy, but grounded. It wasn’t going to be a comic, it wanted to try to live in the real world as much as it could. That was something we were constantly checking ourselves on. The other thing that was great great fun was that Titans is really a mash-up, a genre mash-up. It’s horror, it’s sci-fi, it’s superheroes, it’s a bit of everything. I think that that works well tonally, and I think the fans are going to appreciate it too.
While Titans will be gritty and edgy as seen in the trailers, every episode won’t be darkness and violence from beginning to end. According to John Fawcett, there are more genres in Titans than just what viewers may have come to expect from the superhero field. It should be interesting to see how Titans goes for the grounded sense when three of the four main characters have powers of some sort. Perhaps some of Robin’s violence will be justified simply due to the fact that he can’t fall back on any superpowers!
Akiva Goldsman, another co-executive producer, shared his own take on the matter:
We found the tone that made sense to us. We’re probably less friendly than the CW shows, but we’re probably less nihilistic than some of the darker movies. We just found what we thought was appropriate, based on the source material.
If you’re hoping for some shenanigans such as those that can be found on The CW shows — although perhaps not Arrow, which has always been the darkest and is poised to be darker than ever for Oliver in Season 7 — then Titans may not be for you. Titans will evidently fall somewhere between Arrow-verse friendliness and some of the movie nihilism. In this way, Titans may be well off as the first show in a new universe. Without an existing continuity to fit into, it can really go in any direction with its tone and format.
Finally, co-executive producer Geoff Johns weighed in:
I never feel like it’s a hard thing to narrow in on, for me. We knew Dick Grayson was going to be our center. Once we really wanted to come into the Titans as the books did, with Rachel, with Raven, starting to talk about her story as a young girl struggling with her internal darkness, which is a literal one; mirroring Dick Grayson’s story struggling with an internal darkness, which is a psychological one, an emotional one, the whole show kinda fell into place around that. We took the basic concept of the Titans in the books, they’re all these characters from literally different worlds that come together and make a surrogate family, and taking that as our underpinning, as our backbone, our spine, everything for us fell into place.
Titans will be comprised of four different heroes coming from different walks of life and — in the case of Starfire — different planets. One character’s violence won’t necessarily apply to the others, and it won’t necessarily keep them from forming a surrogate family. The Titans crew will come together despite differences that set them apart. Even though the Titans series isn’t based on any specific comic from DC lore, the premise of the Teen Titans apparently works for the show.
Of course, that’s not to say that Titans will never adapt any specific comic storylines. At New York Comic Con, Geoff Johns specifically stated that they would be fools not to explore the legendary Judas Contract arc from the comics, which means introducing a new version of Deathstroke. Any attempt at tackling The Judas Contract may be a while off, however, as Titans will have to establish itself before diving into a story with Deathstroke. The good news is that the show has already been renewed for Season 2 before Season 1 even premiered.
The first season of Titans will premiere quite soon. The first episode will debut on DC Universe on Friday, October 12. The rest of the ten-episode first season will release on a weekly basis. For some additional DC viewing options elsewhere than DC Universe, swing by our fall TV premiere schedule for Arrow-verse info as well as info about many other new and returning series this fall.