The trailer for DC Universe's Titans series has caused quite a stir, particularly concerning one line that Dick Grayson, aka Robin, utters about his former mentor, Batman. There were rumors before the series' trailer debuted that Titans would be a mature TV show, including lots of profanity.
The first trailer confirmed that rumor with brutal, bloody fight scenes involving Robin, an overall dark aesthetic, and, of course, a now infamous line concerning Batman. However, while the trailer for Titans does represent part of the series, it isn't the whole picture. At least, that's what Geoff Johns is claiming.
In an interview with Polygon, Johns was asked directly about the "F**k Batman" line. The expletive heard round the comic book fan world isn't just made to enrage people, Johns explained. There's a method to the potty mouth madness. The writer/producer said:
"The trailer shows a piece of the tone of the show — the show’s not all that. But it does make you go, ‘Why is he saying [F**k Batman?]’ If you look at when Robin first left Batman in the comics, there was a lot of uneasiness and him being lost. Titans is really a series about these different characters that are all lost in their lives; just like the greatest comic book Titans run ever, by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, it’s about all these lost characters find one another. And they’re all struggling with something, and Robin is clearly struggling with his past with Batman."
As an executive producer for Titans, Johns obviously has a vested interest in the series and its success. It's only natural that he'd want to assuage doubts and fears with the project by explaining Robin's profanity-ladden disdain for Batman. However, the famous Teen Titans comic run by Marv Wolfman and George Pérez, which Johns refers to, never had Dick Grayson use language as harsh as the type found in the trailer. Yet, when it comes to everything else, Johns is correct. As a group, the Teen Titans are all about breaking away from their famous mentors. Robin's journey among the Teen Titans is about him stepping away from Robin and becoming Nightwing. So, Robin having harsh words for the Dark Knight isn't too far-fetched.
However, the issue isn't that Robin is against Batman; it's that the trailer for Titans is so unrelentingly dark and grim. The trailer for Titans makes the series seem rather joyless. It doubles, even triples, down on elements that made the early DCEU entries unpopular with critics. Of course, it's also important to keep in mind that the trailer for Titans is just that, a trailer. The final product could be radically different in tone and plot than what's suggested by that first look.
There's even a very compelling theory that Dick Grayson's harshest actions, including the profanity and the seeming murder that accompanies it, is just a dream sequence. It's a manifestation of Robin's worst fears of what he could become, not an accurate portrayal of his character in the series. This theory would fit within Johns' explanation that there's more to the line than people realize and it's emblematic of Robin feeling lost. Ultimately, Titans shouldn't be judged on one line or even one trailer. Some skepticism is healthy. For now, though, it's safer to assume that Johns isn't obscuring the facts at all. While there might be elements of Titans that are in line with the "F**k Batman" line and all that entails, that one line doesn't define the entire series.
Titans premieres on DC Universe later this year.