Titans Throws Shade at Season 1's Justice League Fan Service

Titans adopts a more self-referential approach in its season 2 premiere, actively mocking its own fan-baiting tendencies from the first season.

DC Universe Titans Superman

Titans has already taken a more meta-approach in season 2, even mocking its own Justice League fan-baiting from season 1. Debuting in 2018, the show served as the flagship of the DC Universe streaming service. The show proved a hit upon release and was rapidly renewed for a sophomore outing. It also spawned a loosely-connected spin-off in Doom Patrol and was followed by the wholly unconnected and ill-fated Swamp Thing. Starring Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, season 1 followed the character as he attempted to solve the mystery surrounding Rachel Roth (aka. Raven) and forge his own identity outside of being Batman's sidekick, Robin.

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Across the initial 11-episode run, Titans featured numerous oblique references and direct name-drops to classic DC characters. Most notably among them was Batman, who loomed over proceedings and informed many of Dick Grayson's choices. Such nods came to a head in the makeshift season 1 finale. Trapped within a dream-like state by the demonic Trigon, the titular hero found himself forced to return to Gotham City. With Jason Todd critically injured and Commissioner Gordon killed, the nightmarish iteration of Batman had officially snapped and crossed the line into outright murderous vengeance. Eager to track him down and halt his rampage, Dick visited iconic locations like The Batcave and Arkham Asylum. He also encountered such notable figures as Two-Face and The Joker - though, like Batman himself throughout the episode, they remained mostly faceless entities only indirectly glimpsed.

RELATED: Titans’ Season 2 Premiere Is The Finale DC Universe Forgot To Air

Things turned somewhat of a corner in the season 2 premiere. Firstly, Bruce Wayne was officially given a face, with Game of Thrones' Iain Glen cast in the role. The official addition led, inevitably, to more Bat-related references, like Alfred, the Bat-Computer, and the Justice League. One exchange, however, referenced the latter superhero team (and such baiting) in a much more tongue-in-cheek fashion. As the first episode neared its conclusion, many of the heroes went their separate ways. Opting to venture onward with Dick, Jason, and Rachel, Gar (aka Beast Boy) enquired whether they would actually get to meet Batman this time. "Uh, no," Dick replied. "Superman." A surprised Gar immediately responded by asking, "Seriously?" Unfortunately for him, Dick merely quipped with a chuckle: "No! Get in the car."

Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne Batman in Titans

Having lived with the Doom Patrol, thus being more familiar with the weirder aspects of the Titans' world, and not suffering from memory loss like Kory Anders (aka Starfire), Gar has often served as an audience surrogate. As such, he can often be trusted to ask the same questions as fans. This isn't even the first time he has expressed interest in Batman, having previously desired to meet him. Such an event is unlikely to occur. Though Bruce Wayne seemingly funds the fledging group and gifted them Titans Tower, fans probably shouldn't expect him to actually suit up as the Caped Crusader. Equally, it's doubtful that the Man of Steel will actually drop out of the sky to lend a hand. Warners Bros, after all, tend to keep their core trinity for the big-screen - with such as Titans' Bruce Wayne and Tyler Hoechlin's Arrowverse Superman used only sporadically.

Equally, the writers of the show, after all, are keen to keep the focus on the younger former sidekicks. In that regard, fans will have more to look forward in coming episodes - with Joshua Orpin's Superboy and Drew Van Acker's Aqualad both confirmed to be joining the Titans' ranks as Deathstroke comes out of retirement after seeing Jason Todd on TV. Though such iconic characters will no doubt still be mentioned and referenced, it's a noteworthy step that the showrunners know that they are working within such limits, setting an immediate precedent with regard to fans lofty expectations. And it bodes well for an improved second season that they have done so in a successfully humorous and knowing fashion.

MORE: Titans' Season 2 Premiere Retcons The Team’s Origin

Titans season 2 continues with episode 2, "Rose", September 13 on DC Universe.

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