NYCC 2018 Titans Is So Much Better Than You Think It Will

first_imgStay on target Let’s be real here. When the first trailer for DC Universe’s first original series Titans dropped at San Diego Comic Con last summer, reactions were… let’s say mixed. It looked like a show by and for angry teens who are mad at their dad. It showed us the briefest glimpses of most characters, and the only memorable line was Robin’s try-hard sounding “fuck Batman.” It didn’t make a great first impression. As far as the special effects went, the trailer may not have chosen the best shots to showcase them. It’s no wonder some fans were souring on a show that hadn’t even aired its first episode. It looked like everything wrong with the grim, over-serious Batman v. Superman condensed for TV.DC Universe kicked off New York Comic Con last night with a preview screening of the first two episodes, and I’m happy to report that Titans is… not that. The first episode makes steps in that direction, but the second is where the series really starts to shine. Beating all expectations, Titans is actually looking really good. Before we get there though, there was some news that came out of the panel about other DC Universe shows. The first is Doom Patrol, which was introduced by star Brendan Fraser. At the end of the night, we got a brief clip of the strange superhero team eating around a table. Then one of their faces starts melting. It’s certainly going to be an interesting show. We also got a look at Fraser as Robot Man. Top Movie and TV Trailers You Might Have Missed This Week’Titans’ Season 2 First Look Trailer: The Superhero Squad Expands Brendan Fraser discusses #DCUDOOMPATROL on stage at the #DCUTITANS premiere.— DCUTitans (@DCUTitans) October 4, 2018Even bigger news, Matt Bomer is joining the cast as Negative Man. Both he and Fraser will voice their characters while stunt actors perform in costume on set. They will be in the show too though. Doom Patrol will contain flashback scenes, during which Fraser and Bomer will appear onscreen themselves. The cast of Doom Patrol looks fantastic, and it’ll be fun watching them embrace the weirdest corners of the DC Universe.We also got a new Harley Quinn trailer with Kaley Cuoco in the title role. It looks exactly how you’d expect a Harley Quinn cartoon to look.center_img Dr. Quinzel is breaking into the #DCUniverse. Welcome Kaley Cuoco as the voice of Harley Quinn! #DCNYCC #DCUHarleyQuinn— DC Universe (@TheDCUniverse) October 4, 2018Man, that Deadpool joke hurts. You didn’t have to hit us there, Harley. Cuoco makes a fine Harley Quinn so far, and the comedic timing in this trailer is on point. DCUniverse might be a little barebones now, especially the comics side of things, but it’s shaping up to be more than worth the cost of a subscription. It has some really exciting shows coming to it. And yes, that includes Titans.The first episode, while much better than the trailer made it seem, still feels a little too close to that tone. It takes too long to set up some characters (Robin), while others are caught in a holding pattern. Seriously, how many times is Raven going to almost get kidnapped? Others have disappointingly little to do and are only in the first episode because it felt the need to at least hint at introducing all of them. Beast Boy gets it the worst, but even Starfire’s action-packed arc felt tacked on here.Anna Diop (Photo via DC Universe)And before we get too far into this, I will not hear any bad-mouthing of Anna Diop as Starfire. Not only does her character design fit the show and look perfectly fine in motion, she does a fantastic job with what little she has here. Starfire wakes up in a crashed car with no memory of who she is. All she knows is there’s a group of men trying to kill her and another one tied up in what she learns is her hotel room. It’s an attention-grabbing way to start her story, but it doesn’t really go anywhere. She learns she has some sort of connection to Raven, which sets up the eventual meeting of the Titans, but that’s it. Her story is dropped and doesn’t even come back in Episode Two. Even though it felt superfluous, Diop does a great job as Starfire. She plays the confusion, uneasiness and forced confidence well, and it’s fun to watch her discover her superpowers. Also yes, watching brilliant flames expel from her body in one scene is supremely cool.The first episode feels like the first issue of a Vertigo comic. It’s going hard on the swearing and violence because it has to prove to you it’s mature. It’s not like the other comics on the shelf, this one has cusses and butts in it. The first episode of Titans has a lot of that in it. It’s pushing the boundaries of what we expect from a DC TV show and letting us know that this isn’t like those. Like many of those Vertigo comics though, once that job’s done it starts telling a really good story. Robin may have been introduced to us with violence and an f-bomb, but there’s a softness and heart to Brenton Thwaites’ portrayal, and that’s what carries the series so far.Titans Ep. 101–Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie / ©2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.In these first two episodes, the show is really about the relationship between Raven and Robin. That’s the emotional core of the series so far, and it works. Teagan Croft is fantastic as both the sad loner kid Rachel and the terrifying demon Raven. There’s some legitimate good horror on this show, particularly in the second episode. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there’s a scene when Dick Grayson goes out to get pizza for him and Rachel, and she sees a seriously scary autopsy report. That’s all I’ll say, but it made me jump out of my chair in NYCC’s Hammerstein Ballroom.The relationship between the two of them is what really gets you invested in the show. Yes, I wish I had some idea of who these people trying to kidnap Rachel were, what they want her for or even how they know about her. Those explanations are most likely coming, but the first two episodes don’t tell us any of that, which is disappointing. It’s hard to get invested in the conflict when one side is made up of generic dudes in suits. It does it’s job though. The fact that, whoever this group is, they’ve infiltrated the police department Dick started working at at least hints at a large plot going on. More importantly, it forces him to take care of Rachel. Though his first appearance was a half-hearted rejection of Batman, he now has to fill the same role for another lost kid.Titans Ep. 102–Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie / ©2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.The second episode pushes the emotional stakes even higher with the introduction of Hawk and Dove. Yes, the Titans aren’t the only superheroes on this show. It’s promising that already, DC is trying to create a whole world full of superheroes doing their own thing. Part of the fun of DC Comics is the knowledge that your other favorite heroes are just a few towns over doing they’re own thing, and they could pop in at any moment. Here, there’s some awkward history between Robin and Dove that leads to all sorts of tension between the four. It mostly focuses on the question of whether Robin can or should take on the responsibility of protecting Raven. It’s pretty standard rejection of the call to adventure stuff, but the scenes are well-written and emotionally affecting. Titans gets a lot of mileage out of it.The characters are so charming, it’s easy to start rooting for them immediately. That’s this show’s real strength.  Even the villains improve in the second episode with the introduction of a family of sadistic assassins who put on a wholesome Leave it to Beaver act even when they’re slicing people up with scissors. They’re just creepy, and I can’t wait to see more of them as the rest of the series starts streaming.The fight scenes are fast, exciting and brutal too. There’s plenty of superhero action in these first two episodes, and way more than you’d see any given week on The CW. The violence does feel a little excessive at this point. It’s weird to see Robin straight-up murdering people, but he needs an arc. He starts out rejecting Batman, and as we watch him become Nightwing, I’m guessing we’ll also see him accept Batman’s way of doing some things. I do wish the lighting was better on these scenes though. Sometimes it’s a little hard to see exactly what’s going on. I know it’s going for a comic noir look, but maybe one extra light so we could see who’s punching whom would be nice.Titans Ep. 102–Photo Credit: Steve Wilkie / ©2017 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.I can honestly say I walked out of the Theater way higher on Titans than I thought possible. The pilot stumbles in the ways most pilots do, but DC put together one seriously intriguing superhero show. It’s not light like the CW fare, but it’s not nearly as dark as you think it is. It’s surprisingly earnest and it’s trying to tell a different superhero story than what we’re used to. You’re definitely going to want to come back to this one each week.The panel afterwards didn’t reveal too much, but DC was trying to get a Titans adaptation for a long time. Producer Geoff Johns talked about the fights that took place over what Titans would be. At first, they were trying to make a movie, which never worked mainly because Warner Bros. wouldn’t let them use Robin. That sounds exactly the kind of ridiculous corporate stubbornness that would hold up something cool like this. They did get Robin though, and they were able to do something  really interesting with him. Because it’s on a streaming service, they were able to try something new and different with Titans.And yes, Robin’s now infamous line came up in the conversation. Johns took credit for writing that line and defended its use in the trailer. It was polarizing and got people talking, he said. That’s all they wanted the trailer to do. Mission accomplished, I guess, but it could have been done with a much better trailer. And it’s used completely differently in the show than it is in the trailer. The trailer made it sound defiant. In the show, it’s much more uncertain. It’s Dick Grayson trying to prove himself after the drug dealers he beats up ignored him, looking around for Batman instead. “In context, not only is it fun, there’s a lot it says about where Dick Grayson is,” Johns said. #DCUTITANS Q&A after the premiere. #DCNYCC #DCUniverse— DCUTitans (@DCUTitans) October 4, 2018Brenton Thwaites added, “At the time it felt like a fun line to say. It was added to give that fighting some energy. Seeing it on screen, it had so many different undertones that I didn’t think of at the time. It’s not a story about Batman, it’s a story about Robin breaking away from Batman.”The severe lack of Beast Boy was also addressed. Especially the unsettling body horror involved in his transformation. Actor Ryan Potter promised there’s lots more where he came from later in the series. We can expect to see a lot of a “green haired kid who likes pizza and likes to dance and likes to make people smile.” As for the transformation, there was only one thing he would change. “We needed more butt,” he said.Titans has already been renewed for a second season, and it’s in production right now. Season two, the producers said, will adapt some stories from the comics. Which ones, they wouldn’t say. But fans of the Titans comics have that to look forward to. For now though, Titans Season One is shaping up to be something special in superhero TV. The first season premieres on October 12 on DCUniverse.last_img

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