WARNING: The following contains spoilers for the Titans Season 2 premiere, "Trigon," streaming now on DC Universe.
Despite appearing only in the finale, a nightmare vision in which he goes on a murder spree, Batman cast a long shadow over the first season of Titans. It was he who took in an orphaned Dick Grayson, only to fill the hole in the boy's life "with violence and rage," and then, years later, to drive him to flee Gotham for Detroit. He's also the one who quickly found a new protege -- a new child soldier -- in Jason Todd, to continue his crusade on crime. It's no wonder Dick declared, "Fuck Batman!"
However, when Bruce Wayne appears, in the flesh, in the final act of the Season 2 premiere, he's hardly the monster Dick had portrayed. More than that, he's not like any Dark Knight we've seen before onscreen.
Played by Iain Glen, this Bruce Wayne is, of course, older (the Game of Thrones star is 58 years old), but he's not the cynical, world-weary vigilante of The Dark Knight Returns or Batman Beyond. The slight smile that crosses his face in the Season 2 trailer as he lays eyes on Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites), the prodigal son, is genuine. While Dick is filled with butterflies over the thought of this reunion, this reconciliation, Bruce isn't; he's looking forward to it.
As they enter Wayne Manor together for the first time in at least a year, Bruce express his surprise in learning from Alfred that Dick wanted to stop by. When Dick points out it's not like him to be surprised, Bruce replies, "True. I try not to make it a habit." He's warm, funny, and gracious. Dick has come to explain himself, and if not necessarily to seek forgiveness, then at least forge an understanding. And Bruce gives him the room to do just that.
"There was this darkness inside me," Dick concedes, "and I didn't know what to do with it. It hurt me. And I hurt others. The whole time I thought it was because of the way you raised me, the way you weaponized my childhood. Point is, I blamed you for a lot of things that may or may not have been your fault."
"I see," Bruce responds. "So you've decided which one it is now, and you've come to render verdict." It's a statement, not a question, but there's no edge to it. He knows that's not why Dick has returned.
"No," Dick continues. "It doesn't matter anymore, the why or how. I only know you did what you knew, what you thought was best for me. The training ... everything. You only did it so I would focus on something other than being angry and sad about what happened to my parents."
When the former Boy Wonder refers to all of the things Bruce did to help him, his Bat-ears perk up: "I'd be curious to know what you think those are." And when Dick says, "Maybe another time," Bruce smiles and nods his approval. "Cryptic. Well done."
Yes, this Batman is self-effacing, but he's still a keen strategist, several steps ahead of friends and foes alike. When he laments that things haven't been the same since Dick left, and that Jason has some rough edges that require sanding down, you can almost feel the trap being set. Responding to Bruce's offer that, "If there's anything you need, you let me know," Dick strolls right in: He wants to return to San Francisco, to re-form the Titans. He may not require Bruce's blessing, but it's implied he does need his financing.
"On one condition," Bruce states flatly. What that is immediately becomes clear in the next scene, as we see the Golden Gate Bridge, and hear Jason say, "It's not a demotion, per se. More like a temporary relocation."
Well done, Bruce. Well done.
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.