The last few years have been pretty saturated by superhero fare. I’m a sucker for the epic adventure with life or death stakes story, so the superhero thing does fill that particular void. However, with twenty bajillion movies and Netflix series, it is starting to get a bit stale.
How many cataclysmic, potentially world ending events, can a world endure? How do our superheroes not just chuck their hands in the air and go, “fuck it, I’m done, you ungrateful sods!” How does insurance work in cities in close proximity to hero/villain bases? Does the expenditure of superpowers come with a metabolic price? (note: asking your husband in the car on the way to dinner whether Superman needs to eat more food to be all superhero-y is a sure fire way to get some serious eyebrows raised at you – all I wanted to know was how he processes energy, to answer the question of whether he could actually fly to Australia from the US without having to make a pit stop for a snack and why my train of thoughts led me there I just do not know, OK!).
I’ve been disappointed by the last few rounds of superhero offerings (except for Thor: Ragnarok which was a masterpiece) and I also have a problematic relationship with anything Batman. I absolutely loved the 1966 Batman movie with Adam West and Burt Ward. It was one of the few videos we would rent consistently as kids and watched over and over again. I can’t even count how many times I use the line “some days you can’t get rid of a bomb” to confused, blank faces. My siblings and I still threaten to “rend you limb from limb!” over any perceived slight and any problem can be solved with the “Problem-Repellent Bat Spray”. 60s Batman was the best (FYI, I was born in 1983, while I complain about being old I am not THAT old).
Then Batman was ruined irreparably for me after working on a Batman game for the now defunct Pandemic Studios. Whilst I ultimately chose to abandon ship before the shit hit the fan I think of my short time at Pandemic with extreme fondness, but am still disappointed in how everything went down. In hindsight, I definitely made the right decision and while I’ll never work in games or any kind of creative industry again, I am grateful that I at least got the chance to have that opportunity. Then, our national treasure, Heath Ledger died. So now I hate Batman now as a kind of knee-jerk reaction to all my friends losing their jobs and Heath no longer being with us. Batman sucks now. So when I saw an ad for Titans that finished on Robin exclaiming “Fuck Batman!” I figure this could be something I could get behind.
The only thing I really know about Titans is that it is simultaneously a children’s television show that my daughter is absolutely obsessed with. She will of course not be seeing this. I’ve seen enough snippets of it to know who the main four characters are and that’s about it.
In essence, Titans is what Batman vs Superman was aiming for and failed spectacularly at. I felt like BvS was trying to kind of preach some kind of moralistic tale on letting power go unchecked, but between all Batman’s monotonous PTSD flashbacks/dreams/whatever in BvS meh I can’t remember shit it was a pretty dumb movie, the only saving grace of which was getting to look at Henry Cavill for 2+ hours. Anyhoo, Titans has Dick Grayson trying to keep a lid on the violence that has become second nature to him and still remain somewhat of a person, but that violence pops out a lot and boy does it! (Ouch, that glass scene!). It’s an interesting perspective on the Bruce/Dick relationship where Bruce uses Dick as a tool to help fuel his own caped crusader fantasies and how that really fucks up a kid’s development. We don’t have the benefit of Bruce’s side of the story , but that’s swell that because I am fucking done with Batman, OK? Rachael has weird spooky powers she doesn’t understand and she doesn’t want to hurt people but when she’s cornered (read: kidnapped and told she will be sacrificed to prevent her daddy from using her as a portal to enter our world) she does what she has to do to survive. Kori has badass powers to crisp people but she’s really more concerned with who she is (amnesia is such a bitch) and why she was looking for Rachael and lovable little Gar who turns into a green tiger has never bitten people and gets all freaked out when he inevitably does (cornered, again). Probably the most obvious part is when Dick gets all shitty at the replacement Robin for murdering a bunch of guards and he’s all like “Lols, bitch, I got a mask, I can do whatever the fuck I want!”
The first season is a journey on how a bunch of total randoms fall in with each other and begin to trust each other and work out their shit. It is a whirlwind of pain and violence with dark and gritty undertones interwoven with the mystery of finding out exactly who (and what) Kori and Rachael really are. And for once we didn’t have to suffer through the tedious nightmare that is Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered, but we got a two-for-one with both Dick & Rachael’s getting offed in the first episode, because what is an origin story without some dead parents, right? There are some other characters that pop in that give a bit of flavouring to the world of superhero sidekicks, like Hawk and his bad hip and over-reliance on anti-inflammatories to get through the day (being a superhero without superpowers must be hell on the old bod) and his girlfriend Dove who clearly still has a hard on for Dick (that just feels weird to write) and a couple of randos that live with Gar, playing house in a mansion who were saved by some weird and definitely shifty doctor with the absolute worst fucking accent I’ve ever heard, but mostly, it’s about these four getting their shit together. They find some answers, but those answers really just end up creating more questions (like where is Kori pulling her purple lycra outfits from and how the fuck is her hair so perfect and can I please be her when I grow up?) and culminates in what was a thoroughly underwhelming final episode completely out of sync with the rest of the season.
There was something about Dick that really bugged me though. The fact that he is now a detective, and flashbacks of “15 years ago…” put him as a teenager made me think the casting people had knocked back a few too many before making their decision. He just didn’t look old enough to be around 30 ish. He was doing a very credible job on screen, and this was so far my only issue. So, I IMDB’d him after about 6 episodes and this is where I came completely undone. Turns out Brenton Thwaites is from the same small town in Australia that I am. So I called my film buff/factoid freak brother to discuss same. His response: “Yeah duh. He went to school with us” (meaning my younger sibs, as I’d already graduated by this time) and sent me his senior yearbook picture as proof which completely ruined the remaining few episodes for me as once that was seen it could not be unseen and I kept listening for him to fuck up his accent (for the record, he actually is old enough to be 30ish). Then I realised that Teagan Croft is Australian too and now my mind has completely packed it in.
Long story short, I actually enjoyed it. It definitely had the dark themes that the DC universe has been trying to shoehorn into their films, but it was done infinitely better. It was clunky in a few places and the season finale fell very flat (with the exception of me crowing triumphantly to my husband after my theory about Rachael’s mother was proven correct) but overall I rather enjoyed it. I wouldn’t say I would ever rewatch any of the recent DC films but I could see myself rewatching this. If you’re on the fence, give it a shot. If you don’t like violence and swearing, well maybe this one isn’t for you.
Fuck Batman, indeed.