The fan reactions for Titans have been mixed so far and while the show isn’t looking that great it does sound like the people behind the camera are trying to do something interesting and new. One of the things that they are going to do is explore the relationship between Dick Grayson and Jason Todd. SHowrunner Greg Walker spoke to IGN about these two Robins when they revealed a new image of the two men facing off and it doesn’t exactly look like a friendly meeting.
“What I really love about [Jason] as a character is the unbridled sense of self that he has – there’s a lack of… maybe self-awareness, but for sure self-consciousness in terms of how he comports himself and how he moves through the world,” Walker explained. “He’s completely seemingly unaffected by darkness – he kind of embraces it or walks right through it. He’s a breath of fresh air and that’s what I love about him, he’s got a punk rock, no-holds-barred attitude that’s massively unburdened. There’s a lot of energy that comes with that.”
Walker went on to compare the photos and the confrontation like something you would see in lots of classic comic covers where the old would be facing off against the new. This is going to explore Dick seeing a new kid with a new relationship with the man he sees like a father figure. He’s not exactly thrilled about the new dynamic.
“It’s kind of like one of those classic covers of the books, original versus number 2, and in many ways, you really see that [in the photos]. This encapsulates the tension, the energy between these two guys. It’s like running into your ex-girlfriend’s new boyfriend, minus the sexual tension,” Walker laughed. “You get to watch Dick Grayson struggle when he sees another Robin and how that Robin is different and has a different relationship with ‘dad.’ And the second child gets away with stuff the first child would never get away with in a family, and ours is really a family show.”
Walker talks about how each young man relates to Bruce differently and they have a hard time wrapping their heads around those differences. They are two very different people with very different relationships with Batman.
“The whole thing is a study in contrasts between the two Robins and the the ways that they were raised, or how the shadow – or lack of shadow – hangs over the two of them individually,” Walker teased. “It’s so frustrating to see someone who isn’t bothered by someone else the way you are… like, ‘how are you not bothered by that? Why doesn’t that screw you up?’ There’s something confusing and challenging and unsettling about that for Dick.”
The question of how Dick managed to go out on how own was brought up but Walker is making it sound like Dick walked away from Batman to figure out who he is. The child needs to leave home eventually and part of coming to terms with being an adult is coming to terms with seeing your father figure develop a new relationship. Not exactly a replacement but someone new standing where you once stood.
“Dick Grayson is in exile, trying to figure out who Dick Grayson is and who Robin is, and how both of them or either of them or neither of them relate to Batman,” Walker said. “In many ways, like a lot of us have to deal with branching out on our own to set the course towards adulthood, he’s dealing with that and trying to understand the darkness that came with him – is it nature or nurture? Is it due to the horrible circumstances that drew him to be Bruce Wayne’s ward, or is it because of the actual raising and upbringing? So a lot of the story’s about that, and a lot of the trajectory of the character has to do with that struggle.”
Supergirl managed to go an entire season of talking about Superman but never actually bringing him up. When asked if Batman was going to make an appearance in Titans Walker would only tease and not give a straight answer.
“Bruce looms large in our show – both Bruce and Batman, if you want to separate them, and the show does to some degree. We’re not a Batman show, and that’s for a number of reasons, but I think we definitely want to show the relationship between Bruce and Dick just simply as an origin story. If the show does anything, it sets up Dick’s thesis about who Bruce/Batman is and then attempts to question it along the way… Just as you or I might have a version of our parents and somebody comes along, a spouse or a friend, and says, ‘from the outside, I’m not so sure you’re right,’ we want to function that way too.”
One of the things that took fans by surprise in the trailer was seeing how brutal Dick was being while fighting. In the comics it’s usually Jason who is showing that kind of violence but Walker assures that the Dick Grayson we all know and love is still very much there. This is just someone really dealing with the trauma and grief that made him Robin in the first place.
“There’s only so much internal pressure a character can hold before he or she has to release, and he’s a kid dealing with trauma and grief and issues that need to have an external release, otherwise you’re having the kind of mopey, dark antihero that I certainly, as an audience member, have seen a lot of and am tired of,” Walker explained. “I think we push the limits of where you go with that character, but he still plays by the same rules that Robin has played by in the past, which is that it’s justice-related. [It] certainly at times edges towards irrational and unexamined, but it’s an expression of that side of his struggle, the darkness inside him he’s trying to figure out how to deal with, and to not show it would be pulling punches and would be disingenuous.”
All of this sounds like interesting places to take these characters but it’s going to take a lot to get people to look beyond these costumes and the very grim and gritty aesthetic to get there. You can ignore a lot if the story and writing are good and we still need to see Titans before we can really judge it. It sounds like this showrunner has some interesting ideas at the very least.
Summary: A team of young superheroes led by Nightwing (formerly Batman’s first Robin) form to combat evil and other perils.
Titans, created by Greg Berlanti, Akiva Goldsman, and Geoff Johns, stars Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Lindsey Gort, Alan Ritchson, Minka Kelly, and Ryan Potter.
It will release on the DC Universe streaming service beginning October 12th, 2018.