Season one of Titans covered quite a bit of ground in just eleven episodes. The first live-action adaption of the wildly popular DC superhero team carved out a niche that set it apart from both from the animated adaptations as well as the broader DCEU. The show managed to establish its core team plus a number of supporting characters who were promoted to the main cast for the second season. While many streaming shows drag their feet through inaugural seasons, Titans spent its time investing in a pretty cast of characters alongside plenty of action sequences to hold the audience’s interest.
For fans of Teen Titans Go!, the large cast of Titans might be a bit intimidating. There’s not one, but two Titans teams, with original members Wonder Girl (Conor Leslie), Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dove (Minka Kelly) still in the fray as Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) attempts to train a new generation. The presence of Jason Todd (Curran Walters) gives the show two Robins, an interesting sibling-esque dynamic that explores the nature of what it means to be the Boy Wonder.
Titans is a show as much concerned with the past as the present. After finally arriving to the famed Titans Tower, the narrative hints at earlier strife while gradually explaining what broke up the original group. The pacing is a little frantic at times, a product of the show’s rather short episodes for a drama on a streaming service, but there’s never the sense that the narrative is kicking its feet.
Few shows feel as connected to their parent network as Titans, the television embodiment of the DC Universe service. It’s not inaccessible to casual fans by any means, but the show offers plenty of nods to longtime DC fans. Dick Grayson made his live-action debut in 1943, a lifetime before Jason Todd made his in Titans’ first season. Todd himself is quite an interesting figure in Batman lore, but the character also reveals aspects of Grayson as well as Bruce Wayne that no prior adaptation had sought to explore.
So far this season has exercised restraint with the Dark Knight, finally depicted in a speaking capacity after cameo appearances last season. Iain Glen plays a competent Bruce, suave and paternal, while keeping the spotlight on his sidekicks. It’s not Batman’s show, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be apart of it, a line that other superhero franchises have struggled to walk.
Fans wishing for the sense of comradery enjoyed in past Teen Titans adaptations might be a bit disappointed in Titans’ take of the group dynamic, but the familial bond remains. Rachel (Teagan Croft) remains the emotional core of the series, a girl trying to find her place in a world that doesn’t quite understand her. Anna Diop and Ryan Potter give nuanced takes on Starfire and Beast Boy respectively, taking their characters in new directions that build off their arcs in season one.
Season two builds upon the foundation of Titans’ impressive inaugural effort, a show that uses DC’s rich lore to offer a fresh take on the beloved franchise. With Teen Titans arch-nemesis Deathstroke (Esai Morales) in the fray, the show is quite poised to dive into territory that other adaptations have shied away from. It’s definitely not the Titans many expected, but the show is one of the more interesting superhero offerings currently on TV.