Titans season 2 should focus less on Dick Grayson


Titans might be over for DC Universe subscribers, but now that it’s on Netflix internationally, we have some suggestions for season 2. Namely, ditch the Dick Grayson centered narrative.

Because we’ll have to reference some scenes on Titans, you might want to bookmark this article until you’ve watched the first season at least once. If spoilers are the least of your concerns, feel free to continue because we have a lot of thoughts on Dick Grayson. We might already have a lot of brooding animosity about Dick lingering from his plethora of comic book cameos (no, we’re not over the fact that he cheated on Starfire’s comic counterpart). We’re not going to let our love-hate relationship with any incarnations of Dick or Ric Grayson hijack our better judgment; however, the first season of Titans does rely a little too much on Dick — and we think season 2 would benefit a little from less Grayson screen time.

It’s easy to see from any of our Titans related reviews (well, my reviews because I’m the unabashed DC Universe and Teen Titans fan at Culturess) that we love the series. Even our favorite shows don’t go without criticism, after all; just because we love a production doesn’t mean we can’t be critical of it. We want to see one of the best superhero shows succeed.

Beyond not having enough Kory content, the first season is more than a bit heavy-handed when it comes to Dick Grayson content. With our intermittent, conflicting opinion about Grayson aside, we love all the characters, in the comics and the series alike. Because of our love for the Titans in general, we want to see the four main characters in the show (Garfield, Kory, Rachel, and Dick) spotlighted in similar ways. After all, all characters in the series deserve substantial focus.

Since Titans is a show about family, just with gore, interdimensional demons, cults, and murder, we want to see the back story and growth for every family member in the team.

Cover to Nightwing: Rebirth #1. Image via DC Comics.

The series acts as a Nightwing origin story with a Titans subplot

Despite what the title of the series suggests, Titans currently translates as an extended Nightwing prequel that leans on Rachel Roth’s concurrent demonic plot. Moonlighting under the Titans pseudonym, the show acts as Dick’s rise from the shadows of Batman into his independent alias as Nightwing.

While we haven’t seen or heard any mention of Nightwing — suit, moniker, or otherwise yet — Dick is dealing with his internal struggle and identity crisis well before The Organization injects him with a hallucinogenic serum in episode 7, “Asylum.”

His growing violence on the series deeply implies his tension with his BatDad and his, presumably, increasingly violent tactics. Titans has been hinting at a Nightwing reveal since the series kicked off this past October. We’ve yet to see Nightwing, but the underwriting is there, and Titans could inject some Nightwing material in the upcoming second season. Although Dick is currently possessed, given how focused the first season has been on Dick, the Nightwing hype will likely carry over into the second season.

The first season periodically interweaves Dick’s identity crisis with Kory’s amnesia, Rachel’s road to accepting her dark family tree, and Garfield’s road to independence from his former found-family into his new one: the Titans team (even if it hasn’t been dubbed as an official team, yet). In other words, the series isn’t solely about Dick and his identity crisis, especially since he isn’t the only team member struggling with integrity or identity. Instead, the continuing series could postpone some of Dick’s internal qualms to refocus on other characters’ on-screen development.

For example, next season could easily parallel and strengthen Rachel and Dick’s intertwined narratives by introducing a lot more of Kory and Garfield’s personal struggles with their identities. Adding more valuable context behind Garfield and Kory wouldn’t diminish Rachel or Dick’s already preexisting development because each character already has a family-like relationship in season 1, and their origin stories are similar even with their own individuality. They all struggle with their identity and lack of control or understanding of their abilities and strengths, which would allow continuing episodes to simultaneously create new character development for Kory and Garfield while also providing opportunities to build relationships between the characters through these similar problems.

Although Dick Grayson is vital to the Titans team, and it’s expected that any Titans-related show would highlight Dick and his contributions to the team, the first season of the series has streamlined his plot at the expense of its other key characters. Between the episodes that predominately feature flashbacks into his life, either through his own eyes or from Hank, Dawn, or Donna’s perspective, Grayson’s narrative overwhelms other characters’ development.

The show focuses on Dick but forgets the rest of the Titans

Though Dick Grayson only formally headlined one episode of the first season, episode 11 and the season finale, “Dick Grayson,” the majority of the first season uses either Dick or people in his past to progress the conflict in the narrative. Integral people from Dick’s past, such as Dawn, Hank, Jason, and Donna, are also important characters in the mythos of the Teen Titans — after all, Donna Troy is a formidable leader of the team during a couple different segments of the comics history.

Obviously, the team is more than just the four main characters. However, focusing on Dick and using other characters from his past to supplement his already dominant story arc takes the focus away from a couple of the four crucial characters, namely Kory Anders and Garfield Logan.

Rachel and Dick’s respective narratives naturally intermingle with one another and help Titans drive the demonic subplot and introduce the series’ first menacing villain, Trigon. Though Rachel’s story is also at the forefront of the first season, the first season often uses her as a background anecdote in her own narrative. A lot of her character development also unearths new details about her father or related plot conflict; however, like Dick Grayson, her screen time unveils more about herself and her origin story than the other main four characters.

Granted, there are moments, such as when Rachel discovers and implements her new-found healing abilities, that focus on her subversive empowerment as a hero. These moments are especially empowering because it helps slightly revert Rachel’s lifelong perception about her nefarious powers and makes them seem slightly less evil in her own eyes.

Leaving Dick in his now compromised state under Trigon’s control could help Titans season 2 refocus on Kory, Garfield, and Rachel and let their particular origin stories play on build on each other. Sure, Dick and Rachel’s narratives obviously connect because they both demonize themselves on some level (or multiple levels), but they aren’t the only two characters who have strong connections.

Kory and Rachel’s tales are also undoubtedly connected. The Princess of Tamaran, Koriand’r came to Earth to assassinate Rachel to save Tamaran. Obviously, Rachel doesn’t want to destroy any worlds, despite her birth-given prophecy. While Dick is Trigon’s puppet, Titans could shift toward a storyline that focuses on the displaced members of the Titans team.

Even if the series takes the next logical approach of saving Garfield, Dick, and Rachel and sequestering Trigon back to his banishment, season 2 could benefit from enriching the plot with Garfield and Kory’s back stories. While we know Garfield was a member of the Doom Patrol and that Chief’s lifesaving treatment granted him his shapeshifting abilities, we don’t know much of anything else about his on-screen development.

Given his own turbulent identity thanks to “Asylum,” giving him at least one titular episode could allow him to experience more of his abilities and allow viewers to see some of his past, via flashbacks. While most of the characters featured in the first season received their own namesake episode, Gar didn’t have the opportunity to headline an episode, just like Rachel didn’t get an episode of her own (even though a lot of the season admittedly did focus her). He and Rachel aren’t the only characters who didn’t get a titular episode.

Kory might have gotten her name featured in episode 10, “Koriand’r;” however, the episode that shares her name doesn’t focus on her. In the 40-minute-long episode, she only receives a little over 10 minutes of screen time. Of those 10 minutes, she has even less time with dialogue.

Although titular episodes don’t need to parade their namesake characters the entire time, the focus of the episode should either be directly on the titular character (Kory) or about the character or their back story. Episode 10 did give us some context regarding her absent memories, but it quickly became an episode focused on Trigon and Rachel’s dysfunctional biological family. The first season yielded a lot of questions about each character, but viewers noticeably have more questions about Garfield and Kory because their narratives and backstories have yet to be clearly defined in the series. Redirecting from the Dick Grayson-focused plot could give viewers some answers about Gar and Kory.

Dick and his Nightwing alias are both important to the Titans, but creating an extended arc around Dick’s claim to the black and blue suit, implicitly or explicitly, before the series bolsters the other characters’ origin stories makes the series seem less about the in-progress team and more about Dick. Though the series does give some context and subtext into Kory, Rachel, Gar, and Donna’s lives, they’re yet to reclaim their respective identities on-screen, at least not to the same degree as Dick’s continuous identity crisis. That indirectly minimizes Kory, Rachel, and Garfield’s contributions to the team. (Even if their found family hasn’t been formally introduced as a team.)

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We’re happy to watch a Titans series with a central story about Dick Grayson, but it shouldn’t constantly focus on him. There are still a lot of stories to tell about Garfield, Rachel, and Kory, and we just want to see the series take a hiatus from Dick, so we can see the other four major characters get the screen time they deserve.