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Titans' Nightwing Origin Has a Huge Batman Problem

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Titans, streaming now on DC Universe.

From the time Titans debuted, it was apparent the series was angling towards Dick Grayson leaving behind life as Robin and moving into his Nightwing persona. His "Fuck Batman!" line was the biggest indicator of this, not to mention for two seasons he made it clear he wanted to groom proteges with emotional care -- totally the opposite of how he was trained to become a superhero.

Season 2 kicked Dick's fate into overdrive. He was burdened by what he did as Robin in the war against Deathstroke. Bruce Wayne even haunted him as a hallucination and ghost of demons past. Which is why after he broke out of jail, we were eager to see Dick reborn and totally separate from his past. Instead, Titans makes a massive mistake with his Nightwing origin by once more making Batman the facilitator of this change.

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When Dick burned the Robin costume in Season 1, it was his way of saying he was his own man. And as Season 2 progressed, he was following this path -- well, apart from staying in a Wayne-powered Titans tower. But we knew when the moment of his transition came, it had to be all about liberation and emancipation.

That's why, even when the Nightwing codename came from a prison fable rather than a story about a Kandorian superhero, as DC had it in the '80s, even the harshest of fans could let it slide. This helped Dick carve a path away from all the superhero lore he learned, embracing a solo destiny he was intent on cultivating with his own hands.

But as he goes to Stu's Handmade Shoes, which we presume is in Gotham, it all falls apart. The sassy Stu tells him about that he didn't like the way Dick burnt his Robin gear, making it clear Stu's the one who crafts kevlar armor for the Bat-family. A bitter Stu tells him, "Master Wayne said you'd be coming," making it clear he's going to make Dick's new suit. Shockingly, Bruce is the one who provided Stu with instructions on what kind of costume Dick would require in his war against Deathstroke (something we're surprised he had knowledge of given that Bruce was an apparition in Dick's cell).

This absolutely feels wrong because we wanted Dick to be free emotionally and physically from Batman. But by wearing his new armor into battle, he's still symbolically tethered to Bruce. This is Bruce's suit with a different color scheme, like it or not. In that sense, Nightwing has been created by Bruce, which is counterintuitive and subverts Dick's purpose throughout the entire series: to be his own self-made hero.

If Dick had crafted his own suit, whether with Stu or Lucius Fox, it would have been a major turning point, similar to the way Spider-Man made his new costume to fight Mysterio in Spider-Man: Far From Home. We don't mind if he uses Bruce's tools or people, but to have no input and get a ready-made suit (again, we have no idea how Bruce could know of the Nightwing symbol from Dick's prison stint) feels like Nightwing's agency has been plucked from him.

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Dick's still Bruce's pawn in the war on crime, and by having Bruce oversee things, Titans walked back any progress Dick made on the show. He should be soaring with a new identity away from the Bat-baggage of old, leaving Robin behind as an afterthought. Instead, Nightwing is simply an upgraded Robin, a point made even clearer when Bruce lectures him in the finale about leading the Titans.

Dick doesn't need to hear this. He already learned his lesson and buried his sins as well as his bad relationship with Bruce. However, when Bruce gives him advice -- the man the show shaped as a flawed, violent hero -- we're left wondering if Dick's really his own man. Making Bruce the source of the Nightwing suit and then having him offer pointers on charting a new life as a vigilante feels creatively regressive. No matter what how you spin it, this Nightwing is just a polished up Boy Wonder with new toys.

Streaming now on DC Universe, Titans Season 2 stars Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson, Anna Diop as Kory Anders, Teagan Croft as Rachel Roth, Ryan Potter as Garfield Logan, Curran Walters as Jason Todd and Conor Leslie as Donna Troy, with Minka Kelly as Dawn Granger, Alan Ritchson as Hank Hall, Joshua Orpin as Superboy, Chelsea Zhang as Rose Wilson, Chella Man as Jericho, Drew Van Acker as Aqualad, Esai Morales as Deathstroke and Iain Glen as Bruce Wayne.

NEXT: Titans: The Inspiration, and Evolution, Behind Nightwing's Suit

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