Ever since the beloved Cartoon Network show “Teen Titans” was cancelled back in 2006, fans have speculated about whether the series deserves a comeback. The show ended on a cliffhanger with hardly any resolution for our young heroes – Robin, Starfire, Cyborg, Raven and Beast Boy – and with high hopes for another season, but no dice.
Instead, fans of the original show were forced to suffer through the 2013 release of “Teen Titans Go!,” a comedic spin-off series that portrays the characters in spoof-like fashion to show what their lives are like when they’re not saving the world.
It’s layered with goofy humor and horrible characterizations compared to the original. In other words, a dumbed-down version with no compelling plot line, just childish antics. Yet, it’s been renewed for a fifth season (the same season the original ended on) that just aired June 25.
Also, “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” was just released in theaters on July 27. Meanwhile, the original show’s beautiful story and character arcs gather dust, completely untouched but desperately wanted.
How will fans recover from losing the original show they loved while being forced to settle for a childish, dumbed down version? Well, DC thinks they have an answer to fans’ “Teen Titans” woes in the form of their new live action series, “Titans.” The trailer for DC’s attempt to revive the teenaged heroes dropped on July 19 at Comic Con as one of the first shows to premier on their new streaming service.
At first glance, the trailer shows a darker, grittier interpretation of the Teen Titans that reflects the typical DC style. Does this trailer embody success as a premier opener for DC’s streaming service, or possibly a liberating comeback for the Titans? Absolutely not, because this trailer just adds another name in a long list of DC letdowns. Here is everything wrong with “Titans” just from the two-minute trailer alone.
1. Dark and gritty is getting real old, real fast, DC.
DC has always marketed its characters and storylines to be much darker than its Marvel counterpart. The moment Robin f-bombs and starts killing ruthlessly in the “Titans” trailer, the message is clear: these are not the Teen Titans fans grew up with.
These Teen Titans are not afraid to draw blood and cause mayhem. Everything is grim, what with Raven’s loose grip on her powers and Robin’s coldblooded vigilantism. There is no glimmer of hope or lightheartedness that the old cartoon liked to tap into.
Problem is, isn’t this violent “edginess” overdone at this point? Why not replicate the original Teen Titans in a live action setting, or at least try a different angle other than “dark and edgy”? In all honesty, DC should know by now that “dark and edgy” isn’t their best selling point. There isn’t much else to say about how vigilante justice can be fierce, or that the line between hero and villain can be blurred.
Yes, these characters’ backgrounds are drowned out in angst and tragedy, but is it wrong to ask for more? It just seems like it would be more interesting to show these characters overcoming their pasts rather than brooding over them. There’s enough substance to these characters to create a story that has pieces of light and dark, seriousness and comedy and past and future. Why not try something different?
2. Fuck, “Batman.” Does “Titans” have the wrong Robin?
Robin’s blatant dismissal of Batman was certainly one of the most shocking parts of the trailer. The goal is to be bold and show fans that “Titans” isn’t playing any childish games. Certainly taking “Teen” away from “Titans” could have communicated that much – these superheroes are for an older audience. And Dick Grayson’s Robin has been a rebellious, angst-y character in the DC comics. Just look at his origins.
However, something doesn’t add up. Batman and Dick Grayson’s Robin had their disagreements, but nothing to provoke this kind of response from his character; at least, not within the timeline of Robin coming in contact with the rest of the Teen Titans. Sure, “Titans” is allowed to have creative freedom, but this Robin doesn’t feel right. And comic book fans are allowed to say otherwise if they feel differently and are more informed than me, but something just feels off about this Robin.
This Robin feels more like Jason Todd, the second Robin, who is, as said on the Batman Wikia Page, “impulsive, reckless, and full of rage.” Todd had a rough upbringing on the streets of Gotham and would have had an inclination toward crime if not for Batman.
His sense of right and wrong was skewed, and his use of excess force to take down criminals was a huge red flag. It was said that there was a darkness in him, much like the Robin portrayed in “Titans.” The Robin in the show is supposed to be Dick Grayson – the origin story showed in the trailer is definitely his – but it doesn’t seem like him at all.
3. What happened to Starfire?
First off, there is nothing wrong with casting an African-American actress to play Starfire. Diversity and representation in television and film is important. So to all those potentially racist haters out there bashing her, accept that it’s 2018 and move on. Black Starfire is beautiful in my book.
However, there might be a problem with how “Titans” presents Starfire’s character. A photo leaked of Starfire on set wearing a fur coat and a seemingly scandalous purple dress underneath. The photo wasn’t well received, inciting comments of Starfire looking like a “prostitute” or “slut.” Since the leak, the actress, Anna Diop, has spoken about the backlash the photo received. She herself has called it a “sloppy photo.”
“For the sake of our incredible fans – I hated that this is the first picture people are seeing,” said Diop. “It’s out of context and it’s a misrepresentation of the incredible character I get to play. And also a misrepresentation of the phenomenal production behind it all.”
Regardless of whether that image of Starfire is a fair representation of what fans can expect, there are other discrepancies to consider about Starfire. Like, why are her energy powers orange and fire-like instead of green? And I guess to poke fun at the photo once more – what context would Starfire be in to present herself like that? Truth is, no one knows enough about this “Titans” version of Starfire to even speculate answers. The ambiguity to ward off spoilers, in this case, is doing more harm than good.
4. The age discrepancy in casting is off-putting.
As per usual in shows and movies with teenaged characters, the actors and actresses playing them are older. Honestly, does no one understand how misleading it can be to have adults play teenagers? It sends mixed signals to kids who then believes that’s what they should look like. It’s like pressuring women to look like the photo-shopped models they see in magazines – false advertising!
Then again, by removing “Teen” from “Titans” in the title, perhaps the series is suggesting that these characters are supposed to be older versions of the characters fans knew. It’s certainly not a stretch to think that. Robin’s actor is 28, Starfire’s is 30 and Beast Boy’s is 21.
On the other hand, though, Raven’s actress is only 14 years old, putting a stark age gap between her and her cast mates. Unlike them, she actually does put the “teen” in Teen Titans. So why is there a significant age gap between her and the rest of the cast? Shouldn’t she be around the same age as the others? It’s also a little off-putting to market such a dark, grueling storyline with older characters and then have a young girl play the troubled Raven
Overall, fans deserve a better revival of their beloved Teen Titans than “Teen Titans Go!” or DC’s “Titans.” In fact, an ending credits scene in “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies” has offered a silver lining – the original Teen Titans appear on screen after static and declare: “We think we’ve found a way back.”
Not to mention Tara Strong, voice actress for Raven, has teased that if the movie is successful, the studio may consider revamping the old “Teen Titans” cartoon. So, even with all the negativity swirling around about “Titans,” there still is hope on the horizon for fans.