In late April, DC Comics made an announcement that has the makings of leading to something huge. They announced a new digital service that would launch with two shows. One of those shows is a live action “Titans” series. This has been a long rumored project, once linked to the TNT network, but it is now being used as a subscription producer for DC’s television streaming service debut. There is not a lot of available information outside of the creators involved (Geoff Johns and Greg Berlanti) and the cast of characters. So far we know that Dick Grayson is the central figure of the show, with Starfire, Raven and apparently Beast Boy.
Questions abound for fans of the source material who are looking forward to the show. What storylines will be part of the first season? What other characters can we expect to see? Who is going to play these characters? However, one of the more obvious questions for fans of the DC Universe on television revolves around whether the show should be part of what is often known as the Arrowverse. This consists of four shows on the CW, including Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and to a lesser extent, Supergirl. We’re going to tackle both sides of the issue here in alternating fashion.
15 SHOULD: THERE'S ALREADY AN ESTABLISHED VIEWER BASE
“Arrow” debuted in 2012 and is finishing up its 5th season on May 24th. “The Flash” followed suit in 2014. "Supergirl" began on CBS in 2015 only to move to the CW the following year. Lastly, “Legends of Tomorrow” gave us our first real taste of team action in 2016. All four shows are continuing into new seasons. Clearly, there is a successful track record for the CW's approach with its shows. They have reached the point where primetime on nearly every weekday is dominated by a DC Comics show. There are many people whose main exposure to these characters is due to these shows. It may be a mistake for DC to not capitalize on this already interested audience.
It may even be wise for some of the characters to make their first appearances in the fall on one of the Arrowverse shows. The gateway is there to bring many people who may not be as interested in “Young Justice” season 3 to pull the trigger on the new service because they found these new characters compelling.
14 SHOULDN'T: NO NEED TO CATCH UP ON ANYTHING ELSE
Depending on your television viewing habits and life commitments, sometimes you just don’t want to have to watch multiple seasons of other shows in order to enjoy something. The nature of comics fans tends to be to want to understand characters to their fullest. If you are going to watch “Titans” and Colton Haynes pops up as Roy Harper talking about Sebastian Blood, this could lead down the road to many episodes of “Arrow” that you just aren’t sure you are ready to watch.
Television universes tend to be rabbit holes for fans. Depending on DC’s goals for the service and the content they plan to offer, this could be a problem. With this being the catalyst for the DC Digital service, you have to assume some subscribers are going to want to dive into the content without watching the other shows. “Young Justice” is already in its third season, so why make “Titans” feel like an addition to something else as well?
13 SHOULD: THE CHANCE FOR ANOTHER MAJOR CROSSOVER
That established audience knows what they like. It seems to be a success story when the CW decides to make their Arrowverse shows cross over. For comic book fans, there is always something special about the team-ups. The establishment of relationships between characters from different shows, such as the romance teased between Barry and Felicity early on, makes for some awesome television. It could be argued that a show like “Legends of Tomorrow” does not work or even exist without the success of crossover episodes. Characters like Ray Palmer and Martin Stein were a part of “Arrow” and “The Flash” respectively before they were ever Legends. With the number of established characters at this point, the possibilities are truly endless.
This could also establish a bit of a mentor-style relationship with the Titans and the heroes with more experience, which has always been a hallmark of Titans stories. Without knowing at what age this iteration of Titans will be (likely early 20s) it may be hard to say what will make sense. Ratings bring in advertisers and a crossover could be an early boon to “Titans” streaming success.
12 SHOULDN'T: THE CHANCE TO SET A NON-CW TONE
This one depends on your taste when it comes to the Arrowverse shows. The CW network has a reputation for shows that are targeting a younger demographic, emphasize romance, and adhere to more of a general audience than comics. There is nothing wrong with that approach considering the track record of success that it has. However, the independent nature of “Titans” being on the DC Digital service could become a way for DC to make a more mature show. The “Judas Contract” storyline as it was originally told would raise large concerns for the CW. Given who would be most aware of this service and consider subscribing, a change in tone may be what subscribers want.
Another esteemed list maker recently stated that the Arrowverse needs a Crisis recently. This is largely due to the fact that writers and viewers both need a fresh start sometimes. This is the break that could lead to a whole new group of series. A DC Digital “Titansverse” could emerge. The Titans were largely conceived as the next generation of heroes. The next generation concept could allow for flexibility and options as plans for seasons of “Titans” and future shows become a reality.
11 SHOULD: INVOLVEMENT OF BERLANTI AND JOHNS
Nothing stands out more about the "Titans" show than the fact that is has two of the Arrowverse architects as its main creators as of right now. Berlanti has been involved in all of the Arrowverse shows thus far. Geoff Johns has written some episodes and been a credited producer whose ideas have been the inspiration for multiple storylines. Considering Johns’ run on "Teen Titans" from the early 2000's, there seems to be a lot he could do with Berlanti on the show that would follow the formulas set up on “Arrow,” “The Flash” and “Legends of Tomorrow.”
On top of all this, they have not veered down the path of a show completely independent of the others yet when working together. Even "Supergirl,” largely due to its starting on CBS and not the CW, has been connected to the Arrowverse because of the Flash’s ability to travel to alternate Earths. It stands to reason that Titans would have to at least connect on that level, right?
10 SHOULDN'T: CLEAN SLATE FOR CREATORS
Continuity can be a real problem for writers. Sometimes a great story cannot be written in its purest form due to something else that was written prior. In the case of “Titans,” this is an extremely difficult decision. Firstly, the people involved worked on all of the other Arrowverse shows, so they would only be held back by their own work. But, they may not have known how things would shake out over time and therefore the use of all the Titans connected characters on previous shows could prove to be very limiting.
The approach may well be the Titans without Roy Harper and Wally West. There are many Titans members whose stories could be told. We could see Hawk and Dove. How about Aqualad and Wonder Girl? Lillith seems to be a lock for the show as well. Perhaps this is a chance to explore and expose audiences to some new characters and build something from the ground up.
9 SHOULD: WALLY WEST COULD BE A TITAN
The Arrowverse has characters with ties to the Titans already in place as well. Wally West has been a mainstay on “The Flash” since season 2. Similar in a sense to “Team Arrow,” there is also “Team Flash” that operates out of STAR labs. There are some seeds there for why Wally might need a break from things for a while and he also has pretty strong independent streak on the show. Keiynan Lonsdale has really made the character his own considering that Wally West II, in comics, didn’t really come into full focus until much more recently.
It is interesting to note that the revealed lineup includes Dick Grayson, but none of the other founding members of the Teen Titans. Could that be because Wally West and Roy Harper are already established and the plan is to bring them on board? There is a lot of sense in that and it would make for quite a first season of team-building and moments of recognition for longtime fans.
8 SHOULDN'T: WHICH WALLY WEST?
There are currently two Wally Wests racing around the DCU. This was brought to light last year through “DCU Rebirth.” They are cousins named after the same grandfather who happened to have never met. The Wally West of the Arrowverse resembles the newer of the Wally Wests from the comics. The viewing audience may not be too fond of seeing another Wally introduced under the pretence used in “Rebirth.”
Separating “Titans” from the Arrowverse gives the show a chance to have the original Wally West, along with his friendship and shared history with Dick Grayson to create something very special. The Arrowverse Wally is already a legacy hero and is younger than his counterparts. If Dick is in fact Nightwing to begin with in “Titans,” this would make for a fairly strange age gap to cross with the characters. The first Wally West in comics is an entirely different character who is defined by many of the same characteristics used for the Arrowverse Barry Allen. This is the chance to give viewers the chance to get to know the original Wally West.
7 SHOULD: TIME TRAVELING WITH THE LEGENDS
The entire concept of the “Legends of Tomorrow” is to allow for some exploration of different times and their impact on the characters involved. When you start mixing in legacy characters like Dick Grayson, and hopefully some others as well, you get some really exciting storytelling possibilities. There are chances to revisit past Titans teams or Dick’s time as Robin. Imagine the excitement of a story in which we see Dick in the Batman role in a different time period. The team dynamics of both shows could allow for some real character magic. Any discovery in the past or revelation about the future could become a mine for story lines as the show continues.
Stories like the “The Future is Now” from Geoff Johns that featured the Titans of Tomorrow could be used as a basis once things get moving on the series. Johns’ involvement with the show and the Arrowverse in general make this a distinct possibility for some great potential storytelling.
6 SHOULDN'T: GOTHAM ALREADY ON ITS OWN
It would not be uncharted waters for the world of DC television shows to not be set in the same universe. Networks play a big role, but the very nature of the timeline of FOX’s “Gotham” creates a model for how a show can and must exist independently. On “Gotham,” you have a young Bruce Wayne who is living after the death of his parents while there is a rise of villains who have always been traditionally associated with Batman around him. There are plenty of people who greatly enjoy this show’s approach and it could be argued that it is very friendly to casual fans.
It comes down to what DC wants with their digital service. The lack of information on “Titans” could very well be attributed to them not being sure of their decision in regards to this show and the Arrowverse. They could take solace in that either approach could work given the success of “Gotham” to maintain interest on both FOX and streaming services like Netflix.
5 SHOULD: MAYBE COLTON HAYNES WILL COME BACK
This could be a long shot, but Roy Harper is a character that could be a fine addition to the “Titans” show. A lot of character develop has already been invested and it would bring a familiarity to all the Arrowverse viewers immediately. The “Arrow” writers haven’t shied away from mentioning him in season 5, even including a vision of him for the 100th episode. Without knowing the details of what is planned for the “Titans” show, certainly storylines like Roy and Cheshire’s relationship, coupled with their eventual son could be extremely intriguing. It would be an automatic tether to all of the other characters on “Arrow” as well.
If this doesn’t happen, and “Titans” are going to move forward as part of the “Arrowverse,” it takes a founding member of the team and quite a bit of material off the table. It may be a wise move for the showrunners to start making the filming of “Titans” to line up with Colton Haynes schedule. Who wouldn’t like to see Nightwing and Arsenal together in live action?
4 SHOULDN'T: BINGE-WORTHY SEASONS
Network television brings certain constraints with it. This has never been more evident than in the era of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu giving people access to entire seasons of original content immediately. Which approach do you prefer? There is something special about having to wait and being teased with cliffhangers of what is going to happen next from week to week. It gives the storytellers a trick that can’t be used to the same effect on a binge released series. However, our culture isn’t exactly defined by its patience, and so the appeal of having access to everything at once is large.
We don’t know what the plan is for the release of “Titans” episodes. It seems logical that there would be a binge release on a streaming service, but who knows? The pacing of any type of crossovers and Arrowverse connectivity could become a real problem if some of the shows are being released weekly with season breaks versus a binge released series. This doesn’t have to be an issue, but if binge release is the plan, it stands to reason that, at the very least, its lining up with the Arrowverse may not be very tightly connected.
3 SHOULD: DEATHSTROKE IS ALREADY ESTABLISHED
There may not be a villain more closely connected to the story of the Titans than Slade Wilson. While the story of his time with Oliver on the island may not completely line up with some of the already established comic book "Titans" history, the fact that the character exists in the Arrowverse gives the writers something to work with right away. With the “Arrow” season finale coming, we know Slade makes a return. There’s also the future version of his son, Grant Wilson, who was floated out there in an episode of “Legends of Tomorrow” and a female Ravager established as well.
These characters allow for spins on plenty of storylines that would be recognizable to any comic fan whose background includes classics like “The Judas Contract” or “A Kid’s Game.” There is still plenty of room for growth with characters like Jericho and Rose to be integrated in various ways, whether they are introduced as team members who then become villains or the other way around. And that is to say nothing about a young lady named Terra. Manu Bennett could be in for some major work on “Titans.”
2 SHOULDN'T: LET THE DC DIGITAL SERVICE STAND ON ITS OWN
There are many questions regarding DC’s digital service. Is this strictly an episodic show streaming service? Will there be live action and/or animated movies? Is the entire back catalog of DC related media in play? Are comics involved? The Arrowverse is an exclusively CW thing at this point. DC has quite a few existing continuities out there already. Some examples include Bruce Timm's DCAU world of Batman, Superman and Justice League animated series or the current animated movies focused around Batman, the Justice League and now the Teen Titans. “Young Justice” is not a part of any other animated universe that is already established, and it is on DC Digital. Could it be the beginning of a new DC animated series universe?
Well, “Titans” could go that route as well. There are so many spin-off possibilities and untapped areas of potential around the DCU that it seems that this would be both possible and loaded with potential. This would not preclude the service from including anything else, it could just be a branding of sorts to carry to give marketers something that makes subscribers know they are getting something exclusive with the service that will continue to grow.
1 SHOULD: DICK GRAYSON IS THE NEXT BEST THING TO BATMAN
Since it seems pretty clear that we will never get Bruce Wayne's Batman on any of the Arrowverse shows, it only makes logical sense to elevate Dick Grayson to that character’s level. Maybe it is because of “Gotham” on Fox or because consistently Batman related characters like the League of Assassins have been used on “Arrow,” but it just seems like there is not much of chance of seeing Bruce Wayne anytime soon. However, if you give the fans Dick Grayson at his best, they’ll forget that really fast. It does bear the question of how they will handle Dick’s background. There is an interesting precedent in Supergirl’s use of Superman to demonstrate how such a major character doesn’t have to be the focus.
Anything connected to Batman that has not been in the Arrowverse is in play for Titans. Because of Dick Grayson’s long history, there really isn’t any villain that they can’t use. He has his own stories as well in his time as Nightwing, with villains like Blockbuster. How cool would it be to see a Nightwing-led team versus the League of Assassins from the Arrowverse? Viewers would certainly subscribe to that.
We'll keep you updated on the DC Digital service and the "Titans" series as it develops. In the meantime, let us know in the comments if you plan on watching it or not!