The Teen Titans are back and ready to kick ass. Except this time they’re not animated and they’re not exactly teens. DC Extended Universe has prepared to kick off a new live-action series about the Titans. As with all things, I have some opinions. The series has been in production since 2014, originally with TNT, who eventually dropped the project. In response, DC Comics has developed it for their new “direct-to-consumer digital service,” DC Universe, and announced a spin-off, Doom Patrol, to pick up after the events of Titans. The series will debut in Fall 2018.
A Brief History of the Titans
The Titans—also known as Teen Titans and the New Teen Titans—debuted in 1964. Robin (Dick Grayson), Kid Flash (Wally West), Aqualad, and Wonder Girl (Donna Troy) made up the original team. A new run in the 1980s introduced Starfire, Raven, and Cyborg. In addition, former Doom Patrol member Changeling joined the lineup under the new name Beast Boy.
Over the years, the Teen Titans have gone through many generations of DC sidekicks. For example, Tim Drake and Damian Wayne as Robin. Bart Allen and Wally West II taking up the Kid Flash mantle. Jackson Hyde as the new Aqualad. The Teen Titans gained traction in the mid-2000s with the Cartoon Network animated series Teen Titans (personally, a big inspiration for me in my formative years). The team featured Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, and Beast Boy. Not to mention a long list of guest characters over the three-year run. For a series that was doing so well, it was unexpectedly canceled in 2006. Read here for the speculation and conspiracy.
As for the new series, all our characters have been cast. Brenton Thwaites (Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) will play Dick Grayson/Robin. Anna Diop (24: Legacy) has been cast as Koriand’r/Starfire, 13-year-old Teagan Croft as Rachel Roth/Raven, and Ryan Potter (Big Hero 6) as Garfield Logan/Beast Boy. Most prominent recurring characters are Alan Ritchson (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire) as Hank Hall/Hawk, and Minka Kelly (Friday Night Lights) as Dawn Granger/Dove. Conor Leslie (Beware the Gonzo) will guest star as Donna Troy/Wonder Girl and Curran Walters as Jason Todd.
Links to Doom Patrol
Consequently, the most exciting news about the new Titans is its connection to Doom Patrol. DC has already cast for a spin-off series to follow the members of Doom Patrol. The spin-off picks up after the events of the Titans series. Makes sense, as three prominent members of Doom Patrol will guest star on the show. April Bowlby (Drop Dead Diva) recently took the role of Rita Farr/Elasti-Woman. Also, Jake Michaels as Clifford Steele/Robotman, Bruno Bichir as Niles Caulder/The Chief, and Dwain Murphy (Degrassi: The Next Generation) as Larry Trainor/Negative Man.
Wherefore Art Thou, Cyborg?*
Doom Patrol has a 13-episode run for a 2019 premiere on DC Universe. And, I bet you were thinking all through the beginning of this: “Where’s Cyborg?” I know, me too. However, it seems Cyborg will have a role in Doom Patrol instead of Titans. According to the official synopsis released by DC,
DOOM PATROL is a re-imagining of one of DC’s most beloved group of outcast Super Heroes: Robotman, Negative Man, Elasti-Girl and Crazy Jane, led by modern-day mad scientist Dr. Niles Caulder (The Chief). The Doom Patrol’s members each suffered horrible accidents that gave them superhuman abilities—but also left them scarred and disfigured. Traumatized and downtrodden, the team found purpose through The Chief, who brought them together to investigate the weirdest phenomena in existence—and to protect Earth from what they find.
Part support group, part Super Hero team, the Doom Patrol is a band of super-powered freaks who fight for a world that wants nothing to do with them. Picking up after the events of TITANS, DOOM PATROL finds these reluctant heroes in a place they never expected to be, called to action by none other than Cyborg, who comes to them with a mission hard to refuse, but with a warning hard to ignore: their lives will never, ever be the same.
Evidently, it seems Doom Patrol will be sticking close to its weird roots, which is what fans are hoping for. The Doom Patrol kids have long been one of the more bizarre super-teams. The series began in 1963, with the team dubbed the “World’s Strangest Heroes” by editor Murry Boltinoff. The original lineup consisted of The Chief, Elasti-Girl, Robotman, and Negative Man. The series lasted until 1968. In total, there have been six Doom Patrol series since then. Gerard Way penned the most recent incarnation and Nick Derington illustrated.
New Era, New Titans
After watching the Titans trailer I have to admit, it’s exciting. Putting this series on a direct-to-consumer service like DC Universe allows creators to go all out. DC is shelling out the content, so they can control what they make. That means loose censors, which means they can have Robin say “fuck Batman” in the trailer and have no problems. (I wish I could make this up; watch the trailer.) In my opinion, the effects leave a lot to be desired, and Raven’s hair looks like a cheap Party City wig. But this is just the trailer, and I can forgive a few things. What I cannot forgive, however, is the distinct lack of Cyborg in connection with the Titans. That cuts me deep in my little Cartoon Network heart.
*Don’t come at me, I know “wherefore” means “why,” I was an English major.