Warning: SPOILERS for Titans Episode 1
From the moment the Titans TV show was announced with Robin in the leading role, DC fans wondered how the story would be told without including Batman. But the premiere confirms Batman's role in Dick Grayson's story in the clearest way possible - with a cameo from Bruce Wayne himself.
The secret has been revealed, now that fans got to see not just the Titans premiere, but the second episode as well, assuming they were on hand at New York Comic Con to join in the fun. Seeing how Brenton Thwaites brings Robin, Batman's former sidekick to life was a major question. But with Gotham in his rear view mirror, there was a chance to leave Batman out of his story completely. The appearance from Bruce Wayne may not be what fans expected, but it does hint at the Dark Knight's continued presence in future episodes, as well.
Obviously anyone wishing to avoid even minor SPOILERS for the Titans premiere should stop reading now, but suffice to say that the TV show is adapting Dick's origin story in full, beginning with his family, the Flying Graysons, and their death during a performance.
The other characters play coy with talk of Dick Grayson's "last partner," including the young detective himself. But when the mystically-gifted Raven touches Dick's hand, memories of what came after his parents' death leave no doubt. Sitting stunned beside the spot where his mother and father died, police buzzing all around, a hand is gently placed on Dick's shoulder - with a man's voice stating that "I want to help you."
And with that, an often overlooked moment in Batman and Robin's past is finally given some attention, as Bruce Wayne first extends the offer to take in, then befriend, and eventually take guardianship of Dick Grayson. The images that follow after seem to begin that story as well, flashing from a parlor in Wayne Manor, to a hand-written letter addressed to Dick from his new mentor. It remains to be seen if it was Bruce taking Dick under his wing at that moment, or Batman spotting a sidekick and successor. But considering how present Bruce is in Dick's mind on this first episode, we doubt the flashbacks will be a one-time device - especially now that Titans has been renewed for season two.
For fans, the inclusion of Bruce Wayne, even without an actor cast in the part, means the makers of Titans aren't bothering with the questions, perceived conflicts, or potential 'confusion' once proposed by DC skeptics. There's no way to tell Dick's story without Bruce and Alfred in it - Dick is, publicly, the adopted son of Bruce Wayne whether their vigilante identities are known or not. For now, the Titans team are keeping Bruce just outside of the frame, which may be for the best. And as we've previously noted, the decision to cast Jason Todd helps keep Batman out of the story, with his influence being felt, but not necessarily seen (which sounds like the main theme that Dick is wrestling with in the first place).
Will Batman's hand cameo evolve into something more? A silhouette? More of his voice? Fans will have to wait and see, but now there's at least reason to hope.
Titans will debut on DC Universe this October 12th, 2018, with international release via Netflix to follow.