Dick Grayson isn’t just part of the Teen Titans. He’s leading the Teen Titans.
Lately, we’ve been blessed with an overabundance of good comic news. First, 20th Century Fox releases dates for Deadpool 2, New Mutants, and Dark Phoenix. Now an interesting announcement from Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment.
Warner Bros. Television and DC Entertainment announced that they are launching a “digital streaming service” at an undisclosed time in 2018. They were obtuse on the details, but the gist is that this streaming service is an “immersive experience designed for the fans.” The service will host a live-action Teen Titans show called Titans and the third season of Young Justice: Outsiders.
Young Justice: Outsiders is the much demanded third season of the Cartoon Network show Young Justice. Young Justice was fantastic: it was spiritually faithful to its source material, beautifully animated, and well voice acted. Following Young Justice’s cancellation, fans campaigned to have Cartoon Network bring the show back. Much to fan surprise and delight, their persistence paid off, in 2016 it was announced that Young Justice would return. The new season will premiere on this new streaming site. The show is produced by Sam Register (Teen Titans Go!) with Brandon Vietti (Batman: Under the Red Hood), and Greg Weisman (Star Wars Rebels) also serving as producers. Phil Bourassa – lead character designer on Justice League Dark and the first two seasons of Young Justice – will act as the series’ art director.
Titans was originally developed than passed on by TNT in 2016. This streaming version will be written by Akiva Goldsman (Star Trek: Discovery), Geoff Johns (The Flash, Arrow), and Greg Berlanti (Arrow, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl).Goldsman, Johns, Berlanti and Sarah Schechter are executive producing the series. The press release from DC Entertainment describes the series as follows:
In this action-packed series, Dick Grayson emerges from the shadows to become the leader of a fearless band of new heroes, including Starfire, Raven and many others. “Titans” is a dramatic, live-action adventure series that will explore and celebrate one of the most popular comic book teams ever.
For me, this reads as actual wish fulfillment. I’ve loved the DC television expanded universe since I watched Grant Gustin be endearingly dorky on The Flash and the binge worthy second season of Arrow. In fact, I personally credit Supergirl’s first season for enabling me to live through this past election cycle – though I was not too impressed with the pilot when I saw it at Comic Con in 2015. My personal feelings aside, this is a big announcement from the perspective of adding yet another television streaming power player, but also because this will be a Batman stories sans Batman.
We need more Batfamily in our lives. While my personal favorite Robin is black sheep Jason Todd, Dick Grayson is second to me alone. He’s one of the most well known and popular characters in Batman comics. (Sorry Jason, the fans did condemn you to death once already. You shouldn’t be surprised.) Dick Grayson is a cornerstone character, whether as Nightwing or Robin.
Comics do not do sidekicks so much anymore. Dick Grayson started out as the Dark Knight’s sidekick because Bob Kane and Bill Finger wanted a new young character to bring in younger readers. Dick’s popularity far surpassed the motivations for his birth. Dick was Batman’s partner in crimefighting for almost 30 years (That’s a long run!). So how do you make a sidekick?
You start with a tragic background, a well timed meeting, and a baseline of natural athletic ability. Much like Bruce Wayne, Dick’s origin story begins with the death of his parents. Dick and his parents are the trapeze troupe, The Flying Graysons. His parents died while performing when Boss Zucco pours acid on the trapeze lines. Endemic of Gotham’s insidious corruption, Dick is warned by Batman that no justice can befall him if he goes to the cops. Instead, little Dick Grayson will have to rely on Batman. Similar to the way Bruce Wayne came to rely on Batman to symbolically avenge his parent’s death. No one fights crime in a Batsuit or in yellow tights if they didn’t have baggage. Dick got so popular he got his own baby Justice League. The teenage group of sidekicks gets called the Teen Titans.
Dick Grayson’s popularity is a testament to the ideas that there is so much in the Batman mythos that is ripe for exploration outside of Batman. We don’t have to stay in the limited range of re-hashing Batman’s origin story and battling the Joker with philosophy and fists. There are more characters out there with their own stories to tell. With the announcement of the Batgirl movie, the Birds of Prey movie, and Titans it seems as though part of DC’s strategy moving forward is to explore those other stories.