The long-awaited DC Universe subscription service has finally arrived; the service promises original content in addition to its catalog of classic movies, TV shows and comics. This weekend saw the launch of the much anticipated live-action Titans series. The first episode of the series debuted on October 12, 2018 and today we present a review on the premiere. Furthermore, minor spoilers for the episode are featured in the following review.
[Warning: The following review contains several spoilers]
The first episode of Titans is quite different from the usual DCTV programs. From the first scene we can tell that this series will be much darker than the DC CW series, and even more so than other series such as Fox’s Gotham and SyFy’s Krypton. The first episode of the series is focused on introducing the audience to some of the characters who will make up the Titans team later on in the season.
Most of the episode’s focus is on Dick Grayson, otherwise known as Robin, who is portrayed as having left Gotham City to move to Detroit and is now a police detective. Dick is portrayed as being a lone wolf character who is closed off to the other detectives within the Detroit PD. It is alluded to that he was a part of the Gotham Police Department in the past, but it is not fully explained how Dick was promoted to detective at what appears to be a younger age than the average detective. In an action sequence early in the episode, we see that Dick Grayson as Robin is incredibly violent to the point of beating criminals to near death, and most likely causing accidental deaths. Now, this is certainly a change that longtime comics and DC animation fans will need time to get used to. Overall, Dick Grayson’s portrayal in the series has shades of the character from the comics, but it is mostly a new take that does not seem to resemble what fans have seen in the past. Personally speaking I see more of Jason Todd in Brenton Twaites’ portrayal than I do Dick Grayson, but these changes match the tone of the story being told.
While the first episode focuses on Robin, the episode itself and the series seems to revolve around Rachael Roth. Rachael, better known as Raven in the comics, is a teenage girl who appears to be possessed by a demon. While knowledge of comics history can sometimes spoil the revelations in a TV series, Titans seems to play off of fans expectations by altering the characters in such a way to keep the mystery. What Rachael seems to be going through in this series is closer to something like being bonded to a symbiote from Marvel comics. I started to see these parallels when Rachael had a voice in her head guiding her actions, as well as seeing a more evil version of herself reflected in mirrored surfaces. This ended up being a distraction not necessarily because of the change from the comics, but because of the recent Venom film released in theaters being fresh in my mind. The mysteries behind Raven are what lead her to seek out Dick Grayson to get help with her affliction. It should be interesting to see where Rachael’s story goes for the rest of the series. I personally did not find Teagan Croft’s performance to be all that convincing, and that paired with the Venom parallels made me have the least amount of interest in Rachael’s story.
Now, the character that stood out to me the most from the first episode is Kory Anders, also known as Starfire. In this series, Kory Anders wakes up in a wrecked vehicle on the side of a road with no memories of who she is. The mystery behind Kory’s life turns out to be the most compelling aspect for me while viewing the episode. The series is very careful not to reveal anything to the audience that Kory does not know herself. Kory’s story is set in Austria which provides a much brighter and more vibrant location than the more dreary Detroit. Also, makes me curious as to how she will end up across the world to meet up with Dick Grayson and the other Titans. Throughout this part of the story, Kory begins to discover her powers slowly but towards the end of the episode she really shines. Kory’s powers have been really well realized in her final scene in the episode. I am very excited to see more of Kory Anders, and I have been captivated by Anna Diop’s portrayal of the character.
The final Titan we met in this episode is Garfield Logan, better known as Beast Boy. Viewers only briefly get to see Garfield in this episode during the final scene. We see that this version of Beast Boy has a more realistic animal transformation and actually looks painful for Beast Boy. There is not too much else to say on Garfield yet, but there should be more development for the character in the coming weeks. Other notable moments in this episode include the music choices; I found that the inserted licensed songs did not match some of the scenes. For example, there was a very peppy song used for a montage scene where Rachael moves from Traverse City to Detroit. It did not seem to fit the tone very well, but other scenes such as Kory’s big power reveal had the perfect music choice. In addition, the overall lighting choices in the series are interesting, as some scenes are incredibly dark while others are quite bright.
Overall, the first episode of Titans provides a proper introduction to the series, the characters, and storylines that will be developed throughout the rest of the season. I am certainly hooked now, and will continue to review the series in the coming weeks. Titans is not entirely faithful to the comics it is inspired by however, much like previous Titans shows before it, this series will live or die on its own merits.
Soundout Side Notes:
- Trix cereal was featured prominently in the episode. Did WB get a paid product placement from Trix?
- Joker got name dropped by random Detroit PD officer
- Kory must be doing well for herself if she has the entire top floor to herself.
- Most video games in the store were for PS4, yet Garfield takes an Xbox game. Also product placement?
- Staff Member, Anthony Michel/ MetalNinja informed me Visions Electronics is a Canadian retailer, and a possible promotion due to the series being filmed in Toronto.
- This version of Beast Boy definitely adapted the “Garfield Logan is a nudist” aspect of the character.
- Dick Grayson stays true to the only part of the character that matters to most people, the eye candy.