The Titans are officially back, with its a sophomore season already promising a wave of new threats, new allies, and a completely retconned origin for the Titans team. The show debuted in 2018 as an inaugural part of the DC Universe streaming service, and, despite the title, the series spent a good portion of season 1 with the characters often kept separated.
Although the disparate characters often came together to combat mutual enemies, such as The Nuclear Family, they were just as often sent off for solo missions. That included the established foursome, but also outside associates such as newly-promoted series regular Jason Todd and Donna Troy. The results, even though serving to flesh out some backstories, still proved divisive. Even in the wake of the kind of success that saw the show rapidly renewed for season 2, the individual elements never showed more than muted shades of what, based on the comics, they could and should have been. That fact was especially noticeable in the show's reticence to even use the name "Titans".
Things turned a corner on that front during the season 2 premiere. The official title was uttered more in the first quarter of the episode than it had been in the entirety of the first season. Picking up where the makeshift season 1 finale left off, it was first mentioned when Hank Hall and Dawn Granger made good on their goal to recruit Jason Todd. Having established to Jason their identities as the vigilante duo Hawk and Dove, the second incarnation of Robin referred to them as Titans. He would later go on to out the team as having reemerged via a local news broadcast. In a moment that could only be described as one akin to Captain America's battle-cry in Avengers: Endgame, Donna Troy also firmly used the name to rally the team against the demonic Trigon. This marked a monumental shift in the show, so let's break down what this means for not just Titans' future, but also its history.
The Show Is ACTUALLY About Titans 2.0
The term Titans 2.0 was first heard in the first Titans season 2 trailer, coined by Rachel in a discussion with Dick Grayson. Although he retorted with an alternate suggestion - "Titans: The Next Generation" - the implication remained the same: the fledgling group had actually existed previously. As such, Dick's decision to train Rachel and Gar wasn't rooted in forming a new team, as it previously seemed, but in resurrecting former one. Given that, Dove's line from the trailer, in reference to Dick's "experiment" comes into sharper focus. The revelation goes firmly against everything established in season 1, however. Previous flashbacks alluded to a former union between Robin, Hawk, and Dove, but it was stated by the former that Dick Grayson had been "warned to stay away from them" by Batman. Equally, doling out justice alongside them was considered akin to "a night out with the bad kids".
In Titans season 2, however, not only did Dick appear to have Bruce Wayne's blessing, but he had his considerable funding too. Bruce even urged Dick to take Jason Todd under his wing, so that he might smooth out the new Robin's "rough edges". Despite the inconsistencies, these latest developments actually have a basis in the comics. Created by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez, the show's new line-up debuted as the core group in the 1980s The New Teen Titans #1.
Aside from Jason (who appears to be subbing in for Cyborg and/or Kid Flash), Wolfman's version lines up pretty accurately with the show - right down to Starfire. This version of Titans was even formed by Rachel with the intention of defeating her father, Trigon, as was adapted on-screen in the most recent episodes. It was also this take on the titular group that actually first came up against Deathstroke in the comics, in a storyline that would appear to serve as the inspiration for season 2. Equally, as the show seems newly geared towards, there was actually a line-up prior to Wolfman's in the comics and the one depicted on Titans. Therefore, while the show appeared to tear holes in its own continuity, it will seemingly lean heavily on the timeline of the source material - albeit by leap-frogging to the second iteration.
Who Was On the Original Titans Team?
Upon their arrival at what is known in the comics as Titans Tower, Gar wandered into the original Titans costume room. Though each of the pods loomed completely empty, each was marked with its designated hero's label. Audiences were also treated to figments of Beast Boy's imagination as he envisioned each of the corresponding heroes turning and adopting traditional hero poses in full costumes. Hank Hall and Dawn Granger wore their previously established Hawk and Dove costumes. Dick Grayson, meanwhile, was back in his old Robin suit - which was last seen being ceremoniously burnt in season 1. The final chamber was occupied by Donna Troy, displaying her in the full Wonder Girl costume for the first time.
Each of them served as original members of the team in the 1960s run of comics. Despite there only being four designated sections, a second Titans season 2 trailer eluded to Titans Tower has having ghosts. Given the show's foray into more supernatural elements, it remains to be seen whether such talk was metaphorical or something more literal. Whatever the case, it could easily be that there were other former members of the original team - ones that suffered tragic fates. Although Superboy was previously confirmed for Titans season 2, he was introduced in a season 1 coda as escaping from Cadmus Laboratory. As such, it's likely that he was only recently created. Garth (a.k.a. Aqualad) was also confirmed for Titans' sophomore outing. As another founding member of the original comic book team, he could just as easily be seen in continued flashbacks as an initial member rather than a fellow new addition to Titans 2.0.
Why The Titans Base Was In San Francisco
The Titans season 2 premiere established the collective heroes previous and current home as being in San Francisco. Although it remains to be seen what reasons the show offers for choosing that particular location, it actually does have some ties to the comics. The Titans have laid their superhero capes in numerous cities over the decade, including New York and Metropolis. The team relocating to San Francisco is a more recent development, with Raven trying to keep a version of the team going in the wake of Superboy's death, as well as the departures of Wonder Girl and Robin. The first issue of that run was released in 2016.
Although the team has seen a number of changes to its roster in the years since, San Francisco has remained the team's home - with them establishing an accord with the city council and encountering many of the characters confirmed for Titans season 2. Although it's likely too early for such plot developments as Superboy's death, the city was most likely chosen due to that comic book connection and San Franciso not generally used as the center of such superhero adaptations. Equally, it will allow the group to have a more centralized location to patrol rather than having to road-trip back and forth across the country.
Why Did The Titans Break Up?
Given the previous mentions of ghosts, a plausible theory is that tragedy befell one or more of the original team. That was most likely at the hands of Deathstroke, potentially in an adaptation of the popular 'Judas Contract' storyline in Titans. The trailers would certainly lend credence to that theory, with Wonder Girl revealing in the trailers that Slade Wilson was the reason they abandoned Titans Tower. The trailer also featured Hawk questioning how many more he was going to kill this time. Since recent footage teased a romantic connection between Aqualad and Wonder Girl, he remains a likely candidate to be one previously felled by Deathstroke's hand. The character, after all, is only seen suited up solo or with the established original team-members.
If it does turn out to be the reason for the team disbanding, such flashbacks could actually fill some gaps in the timeline and even close some plot-holes. After all, when Dick Grayson first ventured to reconnect with Donna Troy, she was attempting to live a life free of vigilantism and super-heroics. The death of a loved one would certainly be a comics-accurate reason for such a choice - be the victim Aqualad or somebody else. It could also explain why Dove seemed so determined not to repeat history and some of the darkness Dick was carrying throughout the first season. With Titans seemingly committed to retroactively correcting previous missteps, such a development would definitely go towards that. Not to mention add more personal stakes and, by ultimately defeating Deathstroke, it would firmly tie in with the theme of Dick Grayson closing the door on the past in order to transition fully into his Nightwing persona in Titans season 2.