The wait is finally over! After (im)patiently waiting for the series to arrive since it was first announced in April 2017, the long awaited launch of the DC Universe streaming service has seen the much anticipated live action launch of Titans on our tv screens. Following plenty of hype for the show via a great series of still images, action-packed trailers and comic con panels, the first episode in this season of 12 is 52 minutes of great action, characterisation, scares and yes, bloodshed. Certainly not a show for all the family to watch, it is aimed squarely at the more mature viewer.
This first instalment, entitled simply “Titans”, is strikingly shot. Under the direction of Brad Anderson, the tone of the show is dark and gritty, with a depiction of a world that is grubby and lived in. The score, by Clint Mansell and Kevin Kiner, serves to enhance the plot by giving a sense of unease that is really tangible. A mixture of electronica and unconventional rhythms makes for a jarring experience, which in my opinion really goes hand in hand with the visual elements to create a unique package.
Whilst not wishing to get too spoiler-filled, the plot is very much a slow burning, gradual introduction to the core members of the Titans team. The main quartet of Robin, Raven, Starfire and Beast Boy are all in different parts of the world when we first meet them. Dick Grayson has left Gotham City, following an unspecified major rift with Batman, and has set up a new life as a police detective in Detroit. Using his police career to help those in need, he takes on the criminal underbelly of the city by night using his Robin persona. The first glimpse of him in his Boy Wonder costume does not disappoint on bit, as he single-handedly despatches half a dozen thugs in brutal, efficient style, clearly showing that this vigilante was trained by Batman! Young Australian actor Brenton Thwaites does a great job with his portrayal of the character, displaying a quiet understated manner as Dick, but a ferocity and sense of bitterness as Robin. It is going to be a real treat to see where the character’s arc takes him over the course of the season. Please enjoy below the aforementioned fight scene in all it’s uncensored glory, complete with the infamous “F#ck Batman” line……
We also get a look at the miserable existence of Rachel Roth, aka Raven. Long time comic book readers will of course know all about her back story and true parentage, and here we get little seeds of information. Possessing demonic, psychic powers, she is being hunted by religious zealots that are trying to take her life to serve the greater good, leading her to find solace under the protection of Dick Grayson. Something is drawing the characters together, but at this embryonic stage in the proceedings, we aren’t given an explanation as to why. Teagan Croft gives a great performance as Raven, displaying an onscreen emotional range far beyond her 14 years. If the series goes all the way in revealing her true parentage and we get to see her real father on the show, then hold onto your hats!
The other main story arc follows Starfire, as we are introduced to the character as she wakes up with some form of amnesia in the wake of a bad car accident. We don’t get a huge amount of information regarding the character and her extraterrestrial origins, but we do certainly get a full on glimpse of her powers in full flow, or should I say, flame! Something is drawing her towards Raven, setting up the inevitable first meeting between the characters further down the line. After being the victim of some ludicrous and extremely unfair criticism after landing the part, Anna Diop does a great job with her screen time here, proving to be a strong screen presence for sure, and she will make an interesting romantic foil of Dick as the series unfolds.
Our only glimpse of Beast Boy is in the last couple of minutes of the episode, but we are treated to a full demonstration of us powers as he executes a daring heist of a treasured PS4 game whilst in the form of a tiger…(yes really!)
Overall, this first episode was a real treat, and with characters such as Donna Troy, Jason Todd, Hawk & Dove and the Doom Patrol to be introduced to the mix as the season unfurls, then undoubtably this fanboy and ever other is going to be very, very happy with the show. The fact that it has already been granted a second season shows the faith that DC have in it and that some long term planning is taking place too. A great start to a bold new show and long may it continue!……