Back in 2006, to capitalize on the then-new superhero trend, NBC began airing their comic book-inspired series, Heroes. Audiences were introduced to several characters who approach their individual powers in different ways. A cast of fresh faces, some who have now become superstars (Milo Ventimiglia, Hayden Panettiere, Zachary Quinto) helped propel Heroes into pop culture when superhero-themed shows were not common at the time.
While this was not the first, Heroes did show there was a market for this type of television for a new era. It was far from perfect as the origins arc seemed to be stretched across the entire series as well as constantly bringing back Sylar (Zachary Quinto) as the villain, which got exhausting fast. While it did make a primetime slot, it was clear that the aspirations the creators went for were sometimes diluted by budget cuts. It was a bit cringeworthy whenever a character’s time to fly would transition into a POV shot or the several times you could see the camera crew in season one. The biggest point here is that Heroes took a chance and helped catapult superheroes where they are now. Several networks have their own, if not many, superhero shows, both original and inspired by comic books, and that doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon.
TITANS is a series exclusive to the DC Universe app and works as an origins show (at least during season 1) primarily due to utilizing lesser-known characters aside from its lead. We have Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), a Detroit police detective who is a vigilante at night. Most casual viewers will recognize him as Robin, Batman’s now-former sidekick, as he is now out on his own, seeking his own vengeance and identity. His life after Batman makes him now the Nightwing which DC fans have already been familiar with for years.
Teenager Rachel Roth (Teagan Croft) literally has a dark side that causes her to unleash a demon within her as well as feel other’s emotions. That’s just a taste of what she can do as she seeks Dick’s safety from people who have rather sinister motives in capturing her. Before you can say “save the cheerleader, save the world,” the scheme surrounding her is way bigger than anyone anticipated and Dick finds himself playing a father figure to a teenager.
There’s also the fabulous Kory Anders (Anna Diop), a woman with amnesia who finds clues and dead bodies which leads her to Rachel, even though she’s unaware of what her purpose is. Oh, and she can absorb heat from the sun and shoot fire from her body. She does this all while wearing neon skin-tight outfits that just demand cosplayer’s attention. Kory is also a badass and has a no bullshit attitude, proving to be someone that Rachel needs by her side. Kory’s narrative is one of the most intriguing parts of TITANS as she leaves dead bodies in her trail while we find out her past, just as slowly as she does. She’s very much a welcomed fresh face to the live-action DC Universe.
TITANS made the smart move of being part of a streaming service, allowing us a taste of R-rated action sequences while also giving a more grounded look at superheroes. The CGI can be distracting at times, but luckily the series has enough substance to forgive its shortcomings. All that said, the show is a great example of how far we’ve come since Heroes. I can’t help but feel TITANS was everything I wanted from Gotham, another series based in the world of Batman but had more of a “villain-of-the-week” structure. Definitely check this out so we can get more seasons and series with bloody comic book style fights starring some of our favorite characters.