This week brought with it the surprise announcement that the thought dead live-action “Titans” TV show had been picked up for DC’s newly-announced upcoming digital platform, joining the previously announced third season of the animated “Young Justice” series. Of course, the news is exciting as it is stressful for longtime Teen Titans fans. Though they’ve never been given a live action incarnation, the Titans continue to be one of DC’s most frequently revisited teams in other media like cartoons, all-ages comics, and direct-to-video animated features, each incarnation presenting its own distinct idea of just who the Titans are and what the team represents.
With only four confirmed team members — Dick Grayson, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy — and an as of yet completely undefined connection to the rest of DC’s cinematic properties, live action or otherwise, there’s certainly plenty of room for speculation. With that in mind, we decided to break down some of the characters, both heroic and villainous, we absolutely need to see in a Titans TV show.
Vic Stone finds himself in an interesting position for this particular scenario. As one of the featured characters in the upcoming “Justice League” movie and currently an active JL member over on the comics side of DC, the Cyborg “brand” appears to be being pushed away from being associated with anything Titans related. However, with decades of pre-New 52 comics and years’ worth of much beloved Titans related cartoons under his belt, the cultural association of Cyborg with the Titans as a team is as set in stone as you could possibly imagine.
The question then becomes, could he be a part of this series? Vic’s presence on the Titans roster fills some much needed gaps in terms of not just surface level diversity but also in — counter intuitively enough — caretaking and mentoring. Over the years, Vic’s cartoon and comic book incarnations have positioned him as an almost paternal force in the Titans framework, allowing him to be the voice of reason and emotional maturity in a group that desperately needs it.
Also, let’s be honest — his heartfelt and often hilarious friendship with Beast Boy would be more than welcome.
With complications that run similar to Vic’s, Wally is a character that already has a live-action counterpart over on CW’s “The Flash,” meaning his appearance in a different, possibly totally unrelated show, runs some pretty big risks as far as clarity is concerned.
However, as both a founding member of the Titans, and a speedster whose abilities round out the power roster, it’s hard to feel like omitting him from the team makes any kind of sense. There’s also the issue of Dick Grayson’s network of friends — one of the most obvious segments of the Titans’ spine — and the fact that Wally is, traditionally, a character at the heart of that web.
Is Wally West the key to building the team’s social network? Maybe, maybe not, but including him certainly wouldn’t hurt.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, there’s Donna Troy, who could actually prove to be a massive cross-promotional gain. With the “Wonder Woman” feature film just over the horizon, we’re standing on the verge of Amazonian super heroics being placed front and center in the mainstream media. And while Donna (as far as we know) won’t actually have a role in the movie, there’s an undeniable level of cross-promotional potential inherent in placing her on the TV Titans’s team.
Her inclusion would also provide some vital narrative avenues for Starfire who, once upon a time in the New Teen Titans era, was one of Donna’s best friends. While Starfire’s obviously had her own evolution independent of Donna thanks to the various cartoons she’s been a part of, a live-action rebirth of sorts for Donna and Kori’s relationship would be a fresh field to sow, and a chance to show a new side of both Amazonian and Tamaranian culture.
A relatively new addition to DC’s roster of teen heroes, Jaime’s been being pushed as a Titan in the animated movies and cartoons like “Young Justice” for the past few years. His power set is malleable enough, and his name recognition is high enough that he seems like an obvious choice for a totally new take on the “original” New Teen Titans roster.
Jaime also opens a potential door to cross into the more cosmic mythology revolving around the Scarab that grants him his powers — but in a way that doesn’t really demand close examination until it’s necessary. The Scarab could be the driving force behind an entire season, or a gimmick for comic relief depending on the tone of the show, either of which makes him not just an obvious choice but an extremely useful one.
The Wilson Family
Deahstroke is perhaps the Titans single greatest and most recognizable villain — but he’s not the only member of the Wilson clan to make an impact on the team. All three of the Wilson kids — Joey, Grant and Rose — have had an impact on various iterations of the Titans, be it as a villain, a hero, or both.
Though it’s probably not completely necessary for someone like Joey Wilson, aka Jericho, to be a permanent or founding member of the team, the addition of the Wilsons even as a concept would provide a pretty massive unifying enemy for the group with a set of stakes that cross beyond the standard “good vs. evil” fair. Also, in terms of sheer brand recognition, the inclusion of Slade and his iconic Deathstroke mask would be a quick way to fuel the fires of fandom.
However, if the standard “good vs. evil” fair is what the tone of the show is looking for, diving into Raven’s history with her father Trigon is a safe and timeless bet. Despite the fact it’s one of the most commonly rehashed elements of the Titans in any form of media, there’s always new and interesting takes to be had when it comes to the introduction of nightmarish Hell worlds or mystical dark arts into a story.
Raven’s Trigon-related plight provided the catalyst for the reformation of the New Teen Titans during the Marvel Wolfman and George Perez era of the team in “The Terror of Trigon” arc. Though adapting the plot directly from the 1984 classic would probably be too on the nose, seeing the show take some cues and inserting some quotes from the source material would be more than welcome.
A Superhero Mentor
One of the Titans-related elements that the “Young Justice” cartoon was able to capitalize on with extreme effect was the idea of the team needing a sort of mentor, outside of just their own superheroic mantle holders. “Young Justice” used characters like Red Tornado and Black Canary to fill that niche — adults who were outsiders to the team’s personal histories, but close enough to the heart of the matter to provide insight and direction when needed.
Licensing and budget limitations will most likely prevent characters like Bruce Wayne or Batman from showing up on the Titans show, while Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy are all the first generation heroes of their respective lineages, meaning there is a definitive opening for an adult character somewhere in this mix.
Red Tornado seems like an obvious choice, and would dovetail nicely with the animated “Young Justice” also airing on the network, but characters like Ted Kord (specifically if Jaime Reyes is brought in), or even Justice Society staples like Dr. Mid-Nite or Alan Scott could be unexpected and fun choices to fit the bill. Besides, Geoff Johns is one of the show runners this time around and his connection to the JSA’s line of Golden Age heroes-turned-mentors runs deep as it is.
“Titans” will be executive produced by Geoff Johns, Akiva Goldsman, Berlanti and Sarah Schechter (“Arrow,” “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” “The Flash,” “Supergirl”). The series will air on a new DC Comics-branded digital platform that will launch in 2018. No official release date has been announced.