Here's how Titans could adapt Jason Todd's journey to his infamous Red Hood persona. Titans was the inaugural series on the DC Universe streaming service, rapidly spawning a Doom Patrol spin-off. An instant hit - especially on Netflix - the show was quickly renewed. Images from Titans season 2 sophomore outing have since emerged. Though few of them pertain to the actual story, comic book fans are set to be in for a treat when it finally airs.
Curran Walters debuted as Jason Todd in the closing moments of Titans episode 5, arriving on the scene just in time to save Dick Grayson from a strike team sent to kill him. After efficiently dispatching the mercenaries, Jason introduces himself as the new Robin. Episode 6 saw the two teaming up to solve a series of murders connected to Dick's past. Along the way, Jason revealed details regarding his own troubled childhood and how he came to be involved with Batman, establishing him as a warped reflection of Dick Grayson. This is further conveyed when Jason demonstrates himself as willing to use his training in bar fights and against cops as he is against criminals. Though Dick tries to dissuade Jason from continuing as Robin, he declares he enjoys it too much to ever quit.
Jason made a brief return in the Titans season finale, as part of the illusion Dick Grayson finds himself trapped within. Now confined to a wheelchair, Jason is the catalyst for Dick's return to Gotham and once again a reflection of what Dick could've been - and still might become. Walters portrayal of Jason was considered a highlight of the first season, making it all the more pleasing to fans when the actor was promoted to a series regular for Titans season 2.
Already, the first season did a solid job of laying the groundwork for Jason's comic book future. With fans eager to see Red Hood in live-action, and the show's tradition of sidekicks seeking to forge their own identities out from their mentors' shadows, it could be that Titans will not only give the fans what they want but do so via a darkly reflective manner befitting Dick and Jason's established dynamic.
Death In The Family & Red Hood Explained
Written by Jim Starlin and illustrated by Jim Aparo, "A Death in the Family" was first published in 1988. The four-part series came about due to the declining popularity of the Jason Todd character: it was conceived as giving readers the chance to decide the impetuous character's fate. For 36 hours, Batman fans could vote on whether Jason lived or die. Ultimately, it was decided by a narrow margin that the character would meet his maker. The story has since become one of the most important and revered in Batman's history.
After being relieved of his duties as Batman's sidekick, Jason found himself dealing with more personal issues. Once again alone in the world, Jason tracked down his biological mother. Unfortunately, she proved every bit as insidious as the criminals Jason used to battle in Gotham. Handing him over to the Joker, Jason is brutally tortured and then subsequently killed when Joker bombs the warehouse containing Jason. Batman, who had been tracking Joker, arrives on the scene but proves too late to save him. Taking the remains back to Gotham, he lays Jason to rest.
Unbeknownst to the Caped Crusader, however, Jason was resurrected when Superboy-Prime altered reality. Waking in his coffin, Jason was forced to break free with his bare hands. He made it 12 miles before succumbing to his lingering injuries. After falling into a year-long coma and spending even longer living back on the streets, Jason was found by Talia al Ghul, taken to her father's Lazarus Pit, and finally healed fully.
He was also profoundly changed by the experience, however: after being informed by Talia that his death was never fully avenged, Jason spends the following years training around the world in a fashion similar to Batman. After which time, he returned to Gotham. There he adopted the Red Hood persona and vowed revenge on those he feels have wronged him - including Joker and Batman. As well as this, he seeks to combat crime not only from within but also in a more murderous, antiheroic fashion.
Titans Has All The Elements For The Death of Jason Todd
As of the season 1 finale, Titans has everything it needs to bring the Red Hood arc to fruition on-screen. Batman was repeatedly mentioned and even glimpsed throughout the season. Even when he wasn't a physical presence, he fittingly hung over the proceedings like a specter, haunting the former Robin and informing each of his choices and motivations. That came to a head when Rachel Roth's demonic father, Trigon, trapped Dick Grayson within an illusion - which saw Dick having to face his demons via a manifestation of Batman. It also somewhat foreshadowed Jason's fate. With Iain Glen officially cast as Bruce Wayne, Dick's former mentor will become an even more prominent aspect of Titans season 2.
The finale vision was also notable for including Joker. Much like in the comics, Joker was a symbol of Batman's refusal to kill and, as the last member of Batman's rogue's gallery to be executed, served as Bruce's point of no return. Dick was ultimately unable to prevent Batman from doing the deed and was thus forced to bring him down. While it was merely an illusion and thus none of this story development was real, it nevertheless confirms that the Clown Prince of Crime exists within the world of Titans, with it possible he could be officially cast and feature at some point.
In any case, the ingredients necessary for the Red Hood storyline are all in place. Titans post-credit scene further introduced Superboy, who will be played by Joshua Orpin in season 2. Although that character is vastly different from Superboy-Prime, who is an alternate version of Clark Kent, the show could tweak things enough to make Orpin a dark version of Connor Kent instead, or merely expand Superboy's powerset to include reality-bending. Ra's al Ghul is less likely to appear considering his recent roles in Arrow and Gotham, but Trigon also demonstrated the ability to heal people towards the end of season 1, when he helped Gar (a.k.a Beast Boy). Equally, if the show is unable to include Joker, it could fall to Deathstroke (played by Esai Morales) to instead kill Jason Todd. His being the one to kill Jason would make for an impactful moment, establishing Slade Wilson as the Titans' nemesis - especially if season 2 features Jason bonding briefly with the team as he has done in the comics.
Red Hood Is A Batman Story - But It Can Work For Titans
The main issue fans will probably have with Titans adapting "A Death in the Family" - and the subsequent fallout - is that the story largely revolves around Batman rather than Dick Grayson's titular group. That being said, there is still a lot of wriggle room that could allow the show to fold the storyline into their own. It wouldn't actually be that much of a stretch, given that the large portion of Dick Grayson's drive on Titans has been about not only finding his own path but being ready to shoulder the responsibility of stopping Batman, should he go over the edge. The season 1 finale explored that directly, with Trigon's aforementioned illusion. He could ultimately serve that function again, following Jason's death.
Equally, with the group already familiar with Jason Todd and Dick previously having tried to keep the new Robin from going down the same dark path as both Batman and himself, the show could explore the grief and subsequent survivors' guilt through Nightwing rather than Batman. It could also fall upon them to deal with the brunt of Jason's return as Red Hood - given the grudge Jason holds for the Bat-family, especially other incarnations of Robin. The comics even provide a precedent for such a twist on the story. "The Battle for the Cowl" storyline saw Jason viciously compete with and actively try to kill such characters as Dick Grayson following Batman's seeming death (all while dressed in a version of the Batsuit). Similarly, Jason has also previously acted as a more murderous version of Dick's second alter-ego: Nightwing; something which once again led to Jason and Dick butting heads, even without Batman in the picture.
As Red Hood, Jason has even established his own group, The Outlaws, with which current Titans member, Starfire, at one point joined. Titans could certainly adapt this team, if not with Starfire then one of the former sidekicks coming in season 2, such as Drew Van Acker's Aqualad. Either way, The Outlaws would make for interesting foils for Dick Grayson and the Titans to both physically and ideologically clash.
All in all, there is a plethora of ways for Titans to bring the Red Hood to life with Dick Grayson and his team as the protagonists. It would be similar to how, over the years, Arrow has adapted Batman storylines and characters, albeit with slight tweaks (only it would be even more palatable to the majority of fans, given the direct connection to the Caped Crusader himself).
Should Red Hood Be Its Own DC Universe Show?
What this would mean for the future of the DC Universe would be especially interesting. Thus far, their most successful shows appear to be both Titans and Doom Patrol. The death and resurrection of Jason Todd, however, would be a perfect opportunity to once again expand upon the world Titans created and introduce the universe's first leading antihero. Shared universes are currently thriving elsewhere and adding another corner to this particular world might prove an effective choice.
Although many of Titans' vocal critics disliked the more brutal take on the hero team, the grittier tone has largely been positively received audiences. It's also been proven that there is a largely untapped market for R-rated superhero stories on television. Such a format would lend itself even more so to a Red Hood series, perhaps in the vein of such recently canceled shows as The Punisher. With Dick and his group emerging from the shadows of their mentors towards more positive identities, a Red Hood series could offer up a darker inverse of that ideal. The wealth of material also lends itself to a more layered, nuanced protagonist, with Jason conflicted by his desperate desire for a family and his more unstable loner attitude.
Jason Todd has little in the way of his own rogue's gallery, but the door could be opened to exploring some of the lesser-known villains from the DC catalog. Whatever the case, with season 2 confirmed for September, it won't be too long before audiences see what Titans has in store... and whether Red Hood indeed fits into those plans.