Developed by Greg Berlanti, Geoff Johns, and Akiva Goldsman.
I recently started making my way through the Titans show on HBO Max and let me say this: I don’t love it. It has zero nuance and about much subtlety as a sledgehammer. Maybe it’s just me but having Robin and Hawk say the F-word a bunch of times is about as edgy as a wooden spoon. This show is labeled “MA” for “Mature Audiences” but it should be labeled “S” for “Sophomoric”.
What the show did accomplish is that it got me thinking about how great the original run by Marv Wolfman and George Perez was from the early 1980s. If you want to read my retrospective on the series Click Here.
These comics contained adult content but they had to do it subtly to get past the Comics Code so things were only inferred and not blatantly obvious to younger readers. This was a product that was intended for anybody to enjoy. Making content like this was an art form, an art form that is dead and buried by the hacks working at Marvel and DC these days. Anyway, let me get off this soapbox, and let’s talk about the Titans.
I strongly feel that Titans is the single worst adaptation of a comic book series ever committed to the large or small screen. I suppose you could make the case that something else is worse as a movie or tv series but as far as translating a comic book and its characters to live-action this thing takes the cake. It’s terrible.
When you adapt something for either movies or tv the first thing the people doing it should think about is “what can we keep?” These guys did the reverse and went with it a “what can we get rid of?” approach. The answer is just about everything. The characterizations and the look of this show are so far off the mark it’s baffling.
Let’s start with the way the characters look. Some of the characters look fine (Robin, Hawk and Dove) and are at least recognizable to anybody familiar with the comic book characters. But others – yikes!
I’ll start with Gar Logan (aka Beast Boy since he isn’t allowed to be called “Changeling” anymore because of a White Wolf RPG game from the 1990s). In the comics, Gar’s skin is green because of an experiment that gave saved his life and gave him the ability to change into any animal he can imagine. In this show his hair is green and he only turns green for about 3 seconds as he changes into a green tiger, which is either the only animal he can imagine or the budget for this show is so cheap that’s the only one they could afford. There is no excuse for him not to be permanently green in his human form considering green makeup worked just fine for Lou Ferrigno’s Hulk in the 1970s.
Next up, Raven. She is basically a great visual character in the comics. She has a hooded cloak that covers much of her face but not her legs and she teleports places in a cloud of smoke. She’s arguably the coolest character visually on the team in the comics. On this show, she looks like a Goth poser that listens to Avril Lavigne and puts blue Manic Panic in her hair.
I saved the worst for last, Kory Anders (aka Starfire). In the comics, this character is an orange-skinned alien with green eyes so it doesn’t matter what the race of the actress that plays her is (the actress on this show is black). In this show, she just looks like the actress that plays her – a normal human female. Once in a while, she uses her powers for about 5 seconds and her skin turns orange and her eyes turn green (compliments of bad CGI). Again, I go back to Lou Ferrigno; makeup would look a lot better than this lazy, cheap nonsense they went with.
I mentioned the horrible characterizations on here so let’s dive into that. The main characters on this show are villains, not heroes. The biggest and most frequent example of this is they murder people in cold blood pretty often, even Beast Boy, a light-hearted character, mauls somebody to death in his tiger form.
Not a single member of this team is likeable. They all act like a bunch of edgelord d-bags.
Two characters that show up but aren’t on the team are Jason Todd and Donna Troy. The former acts like he should be surfing with the guys in Blink 182. I’ll get to the latter a little later.
None of this is the fault of the actors. They were hired to play roles and I’m sure they did the best job that they could. The blame falls squarely on the people that hired them. The brunt of my ire is directed at Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti, and Academy Award Winner Akiva Goldsman, who have a long track record of poor adaptations of DC properties.
I want to comment on the casting of 2 actresses in particular.
Rachel Nichols is the first one. You might remember her as the curvy blonde from Alias or the green chick in her underwear from the JJ Abrams Star Trek movie. She plays Raven’s mother. She’s not the best actress in the world or anything but like the source material for this show, she deserves better than to be on this thing. She’s slumming here. The fact that they made her look like a cocktail waitress on an oil rig is just sad.
Next, I want to mention the worst actress on the planet, Minka Kelly. Famous for dating Derek Jeter and helping to ruin the Charlie’s Angels tv reboot from several years ago they cast her on this thing as Dove. This is the perfect show for her to be on. That isn’t a compliment.
Speaking of Dove, there is an episode about how Hawk and Dove became a team and it has to do with (I’m not making this up) going after a pedophile peewee football coach that molested Hank Hall (Hawk) as a little boy. After Hawk and Dove beat the guy half to death they engage in one of the most beautifully shot sex scenes since Meridian: Kiss of the Beast. This episode was directed by Akiva Goldsman and written by Geoff Johns.
Alright, alright. I’ve bashed this thing enough. Let me say a few good things about it before I get back to the bashing.
I really, really like Donna Troy (Wonder Girl) on here. I’ll go a little further and say she is fantastic. The episode that introduces her (Season 1, Episode 8) is the best episode of the season. Don’t get me wrong it isn’t the best hour of tv ever made or anything but it’s pretty good, which is more than I can say about the other 10 episodes.
Basically, it’s about the relationship between Dick Grayson (Robin) and Donna. It has scenes of the pair as kids but most of it is about them as adults. After Dick quits being Robin he shows up to learn from Donna how to live a normal life. Her characterization isn’t perfect but it’s damn close and Grayson is a much more likeable character during their interactions. 2 episodes later when she uses her magic lasso for the first time it is the best 5 seconds on the entire series and it’s better than any action sequence in Wonder Woman 1984.
Okay enough with the compliments let’s end this with more bashing.
Trigon is a red-skinned demon with 4 eyes in the comics. So naturally, they just hired a guy that looks like Tom Hiddleson’s stand-in. Close enough for Akiva Goldsman.
Lastly, let me talk about the budget for this thing. $2.5 million an episode. I mentioned how poor and minimal the effects are on this show so I find it hard to believe that the budget is this high. This has Corman’s Fantastic Four quality special effects. Maybe they blew most of the season’s budget on the rights to “Wouldn’t It Be Nice” by the Beach Boys.
I’m going to slog through Season 2 for you dear readers. Don’t say I never did anything for you. Stay tuned for that review…