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DC’s Titans: When is Dark Too Dark?

So, TitansTitans will be one of the shows to premiere on DC’s streaming service, the DC Universe, in October. The first-look teaser trailer premiered at July’s SDCC and I was most certainly not impressed. They went Darker and Grittier for this show. The f-bomb came out of Dick Grayson’s mouth and all I could do was sigh in frustration. It begs the question when is dark too dark?

Titans’ Trailer

I watched the trailer a number of times to really figure out where I think they may be going wrong. First, Dick Grayson surely didn’t sound like Dick Grayson, but more like Jason Todd. Titans is set when Dick was on the outs with Batman. While Dick was super angry at Batman/Bruce, he never hated him. But the Titans Dick Grayson seems to have a strong sense of hatred? Dislike? Say what you will about Batman and his jerk tendencies, he still took in the young Dick Grayson when he really didn’t have to do so.

The costumes and special effects are not as good as some fans can do with no budget. It’s sounds like I’m being harsh, but DC/WB have constantly showed that they didn’t care about it looking as well as it should. I mean, Justice League’s CGI effects were NOT good enough in my opinion and that was supposed to be their big hero team-up outing. The costumes are not well done either. Of course, it’s hard to create the amazingly drawn costumes of the comics and make them seem real, but I’ve seen better cosplays.

Entire plot and story spoiled already. They are going with the Trigon storyline right out of the gate.  Rachel Roth/Raven, daughter of Trigon, goes to Dick Grayson/former Robin for help to stop the oncoming arrival of Trigon.  Along the way, they gather Beast Boy and Starfire as allies. Trigon will push to use Raven to come to Earth and the heroes will defeat them, but not without high costs. Is it going to be a series wide plot? Or a season wide plot?  Trigon as the first bad guy to take on the Titans, if the show is good, will set super high standards. Deathstroke, after all, is nothing in comparison to Trigon, as well as any of the Titan villains.

DC’s Habit of Darker and Grittier

DC has a reputation for being less fun than Marvel. It’s true. Titans isn’t the first time DC decided to go darker and edgier. The DCEU is the best example of this method of creating movies and shows. The DCEU had a Superman who kills (yes, we could argue about this point) and an old and grizzled Batman who used extreme violence. The two main supposed heroes fight each other for no good reason. The downer ending to the Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor romance was upsetting but made sense in the context of the story. And then there was the mess of backstories for the Suicide Squad (which included murder of one’s family, brainwashing and abusive relationships; etc.). You get it, right?

Basically, the darker and grittier/edgier is supposed to replace actual character development and interesting stories.

Titans in Comparison to the CW’s Arrowverse

While the Arrowverse is average at best for shows on the young adult network like the CW, it’s the best offerings of DC adaptions of their superheroes. Arrow is by far the darkest of the shows, but in context of Green Arrow/Oliver Queen’s character arc and storylines, it actually makes sense. The Flash and Supergirl have their dark moments for the heroes, but that’s normal in times of crisis against villains who make the heroes question who they are and what they are fighting for. Legends of Tomorrow is fun, but a complete mess (although that Groundhog Day episode featuring character development for Zari was super dark near the end).

Titans doesn’t seem like it’ll have the balance that the Arrowverse shows have in terms of darker themes and events.

Room for Improvement?

How could Titans improve itself? Honestly, they should just take more cues of storytelling and character development from the original Teen Titans animated series, which, while a “kid’s show”, balanced light-hearted moments with serious, dark moments as young heroes in the world and gave us relatable and likeable characters with actual development. And there’s the DC Animated Universe to consider as well for the same reason. Season 1 might be bad but it can be salvageable.

Fans must realise that DC/WB only wants to make money off of us and they don’t really care about the trash they produce to do it. And when DC and WB realise that the criticism of their work is warranted because fans want well-done content and that they would make more money if anything was actually good, the world will be a better place.

Titans might be good, but it might not. From the trailer, I get the impression that they went darker and grittier for the sake of it, not for any real reason (and because teenagers and young adults apparently are angst-ridden and dark all the time and hate adults/parental figures?). Dark shows about superheroes are fine, but it has to make sense (like Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and Arrow, etc) and not just for the sake of it.

Are you looking forward to Titans? Were you a fan of the original Teen Titans and don’t even want to touch this series with a ten-foot pole like I do? Let us know what you think in the comments or send us your thoughts on Facebook or Twitter!

About the author

Dara Berkey

Superhero nerd. History nerd. Favorite personal hero--Shazam/The Original Captain Marvel. Favorite female hero--Any of the Batgirls. Favorite male hero, other than Shazam--Any of the Robins.