With so many other networks looking to get in on the DC Comics superhero success of Arrow and The Flash, more than a few such properties were viewed with doubt from the outset. When Titans was announced to be coming to TNT, adapting the "Teen Titans" comic book starring the younger (read: attractive) heroes of DC's universe, more of The CW's signature angst and romance was assumed to be the goal.
Concrete details on the series have been hard to come by ever since, but as part of the network upfronts is already spilling details about other superhero TV shows, that has changed. The show's pilot may not be progressing as quickly as fans would like, but the promise of keeping true to the source material and distinguishing itself from the rest of DC's offerings may help calm fans' concerns.
To this point, all that's been reported is the show's projected cast: Dick Grayson, former sidekick to Batman and founder of the team. Rachel Roth a.k.a. the mystical Raven, an alien princess named Starfire, and the duo of Hank Hall and Dawn Granger (Hawk and Dove, respectively). Add in Barbara Gordon (daughter to Jim Gordon) a.k.a. Oracle, and the show's ties to the Batman mythology seem to be more than incidental.
Speaking to TVLine, TNT president Kevin Reilly has offered an update on the pilot's script, being written by Oscar winner Akiva Goldsman (Fringe, I Am Legend), and when casting news and production may begin. Apparently, Goldsman has been "very busy doing some other things" - with Underground, Guy Ritchie's Knights of the Round Table, and other projects in production - but Reilly hopes that casting and pre-production will begin in the coming months.
That extended wait is certain to be a disappointment for fans eager to see which actor lands the coveted lead as the next Dick Grayson (likely to take on the Nightwing persona in the show), but Reilly did offer some tantalizing teases. Both he and Goldsman agreed early on that "the landscape right now is well-serviced on the superhero front," meaning a new angle was needed for Titans. The angle will apparently not stray far from the "groundbreaking" original series, with Reilly calling out a few specific examples:
"There were consequences to things that happened; it wasn’t somebody died and they moved on. There was the first superhero to be an addict [Roy Harper’s Speedy]... It’s a coming-of-age story for Robin, who feels like Batman has betrayed him."
The drug addiction of Roy Harper shocked readers when it was first revealed in the comics, and as much as times have changed, it could still be argued that such conflicts have no real place in comic book TV. Arrow featured Roy (played by Colton Haynes) with next to no reference to his drug problem, instead showing Laurel Lance (Katie Cassidy) to be struggling with alcoholism in the show's third season - but never truly delving into the real consequences or ugliness of addiction.
It may be too much to hope that Titans (or Blackbirds, as it was rumored to be retitled) will aim for even greater realism than Arrow or The Flash, given the sorceress and alien in its cast, but keeping faithful to the comics will go over well with fans in any amount. It's likely the tease of Dick Grayson's character sure to get Batman fans excited, as yet another solid link between this Robin and the Dark Knight is explicitly confirmed.
Those links to Batman - who may never appear in the show's universe (or any potential TV universe) - may be confusing for some, but we've previously explained how DC TV shows could benefit from major superheroes without actually including them. Reilly's words taken at face value seem to support that idea, but it remains to be seen if Dick's presumed "betrayal" by Bruce Wayne is a major subplot of the series, or simply an idea among those crafting the show.
We'll keep you updated as more information is released. For now, what do you make of this backstory for Robin? Does a "coming of age" story for Dick Grayson have some appeal, or is it the other members of the team that you're most interested in? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Titans is expected to begin production this summer.