Based on DC comics’ Teen Titans, which debuted in The Brave and the Bold, issue 54, July 1964. The original members were Batman’s first partner, Robin/ Dick Grayson, the initial Flash Barry Allen’s nephew Kid Flash/ Wally West and Aquaman's sidekick Aqualad/ Garth, with Wonder Girl/ Donna Troy joining the Teen Titans the following summer.
In 1964 the word and concept of a teenager were relevantly new, as the words teen age were to become one word ‘teenage’ in the USA during the early forties. Soon any person aged between 13 to 19 was called a teenager. An early example of this new term for an age group can be seen here from the Organization and Operation of the Oklahoma High School Athletic Association, Book, 1942, “The teenager is looking for thrills”.
With a new term of an age group being coined, marketing and sales opportunities followed in abundance in the USA, from music, film and of course comics. The concept of a teenager and selling into their carefree, rebellious and youthful ideology, quickly spread across the world. An early example is Bill Haley & His Comets’ worldwide hit and rock ‘n’ roll classic, Rock Around the Clock in 1954, the kids, at last, had a voice, whilst the older generation made the money! Bill Haley was 28 at the time of the record’s release. From the birth of rock ‘n’ roll, teenagers have proven to be a profitable, intelligent, passionate and influential generation.
DC Comics, seeing a huge market, decided to bring out a comic that was about teenage superheroes and them alone. Even though it would be fair to say that then, the majority of their readers were teenagers to young adults. Yet now Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad and Wonder Girl, could do what they wanted, when they wanted to, without Batman or other adults spoiling their fun. Teen Titans was an overnight success and is still going strong today, changing its name to Titans in 2008, but back to Teen Titans in 2011.
Titans is the creation of Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti. All three have been involved in the DC universe for many years, from comic books to film production, be it Batman or The Green Lantern, Goldsman, Johns or Berlanti name will be attached. Therefore, they bring a wealth of experience as well as writing engaging plots to Titans.
Titans centres around the original Robin, Dick Grayson, (Brenton Thwaites; Home and Away, Maleficent), now a detective in the Detroit Police Department. Grayson has cut all ties from his former guardian and mentor Bruce Wayne/Batman and home, Gotham City, and is seeking a fresh start and new challenges. A classic case of the kid leaving home to get away from his or her parents.
However, no sooner has Grayson picked up his new police badge, he is drawn back to his former life as a superhero when he finds himself protecting half demon/ half human Rachel Roth/ Raven (Teagan Croft; another actor who cut their teeth on Home and Away) from the clutches of The Nuclear Family. A sinister and evil army of androids, who on the surface look like a white fenced middle American family, yet underneath they are powerful and psychopathic killers, proving don’t be fooled by appearances. These are the Joneses’ you wouldn’t want your parents to keep up with.
Soon Grayson and Raven are joined by Koriand'r / Starfire (Anna Diop; The Messengers/Greenleaf) and Gar Logan / Beast Boy (Ryan Potter; Supah Ninjas/ Running for Grace). Starfire is a princess from the planet Tamaran who, with her hands and the power of the sun, can create fire whilst Beast Boy has the ability to turn into a tiger. In other adaptations of Teen Titans, both Starfire’s and Beast Boy’s appearance and abilities differ.
A bond is made, and a group is formed. Grayson reluctantly returns to his alter ego, Robin, to lead his new-found friends, not only to protect Raven but the whole world. As the Nuclear Family are part of something bigger and much more threatening …. The kids are well and truly united.
Titans is frantic, vibrant, nerve-wracking and thought-provoking, the way a classic comic should be. Each episode is like a mini film in itself, which gives the viewer a better insight into the character, and a stronger understanding of the storyline.
There is much to like about Titans, from the Batman cameo to the introduction of the second Robin, Jason Todd. Yet one that I personally found appealing is, for the first time in terms of a live adaptation of Grayson/Robin, we see a darker and harder side to him. Thwaites as Grayson/Robin has resentment towards his legal guardian and crime-fighting partner, Wayne/Batman, believing that Wayne didn’t give him a second opportunity when Grayson’s parents, "The Flying Graysons" were murdered, when Grayson was a child, by mob boss Tony Zucco over protection money for the circus they worked for as acrobats. In fact, Grayson firmly believes he was mentored by Wayne just to be another weapon in Batman’s one-man war against crime, therefore Grayson feels he has been denied a normal childhood. Maybe Grayson/Robin is blaming his upbringing for his shortcomings and not himself, just like many teenagers do and have done. The resentment towards the older generation is subtly woven throughout Titans by Goldsman, Johns and Berlanti, so in turn, they are keeping faith to the original Teen Titans from the summer of 1964.
Season two has already been commissioned, and this time Superboy and Krypto will be involved, whether friends or foes to The Titans, only time will tell.
Titans is a must for DC Universe fans and worthy viewing for fans of intelligent action-packed TV serials.