DC isn’t screwing around. TV series Titans, which will debut on the company’s upcoming streaming service DC Universe, has a trailer and it is absolutely crazy. DC seems to have doubled down on the criticism that its live-action films are too dark. If Batman v Superman was dismal, Titans is a jet-black shade of dark. The TV series is based on the comic-book superhero team of the same name that are simply a wannabe Justice League.
Right from the beginning, the trailer exudes a horror vibe, a little like Fox’s upcoming film New Mutants. Teagan Croft plays Raven, Brendon Thwaites is the leader Robin, previously a Batman sidekick. Anna Diop is Starfire. Ryan Potter plays Beast Boy. Together they make up the crime-fighting team Titans. The trailer has inspired quite a bit of controversy. Robin has become disillusioned with his mentor and drops f-bomb while referring to him. Oh, and he is hyper-violent, not averse to killing small-time criminals.
During a fight scene, Robin, fighting exactly like Batman (appearing and disappearing like a shadow, uses grappling hook and even has a Batarang equivalent – Robarang?), utters, “F*** Batman!” when a street criminal asks, “Where’s Batman?” After that he goes and slaughters the whole lot of punks. He stabs and he breaks skulls. Ouch. This is way over-the-top.
These are not the Teen Titans we grew up with. It is okay to subvert expectations, but DC has tried this before and it did not work. Zack Snyder tried to copy Christopher Nolan’s dark aesthetic and tone that he developed in the Dark Knight trilogy and failed spectacularly in Man of Steel. He tried it again in Batman v Superman, and it was even more of a disaster. One would hope DC knows what it is doing with Titans. The tone looks inconsistent. Is it full-blown horror? Certainly, Raven’s story has elements of horror. She is literally half a demon who, a bit like Hulk, tries to use her powers for good but struggles to control them. But Robin? Starfire? Beast Boy?