Spoilers below for anyone who isn't currently caught up with Titans Season 3 through Episode 5.
Now part of HBO Max's ever-growing slate of modest-to-high-budgeted superhero fare, Titans returned to streaming TV in a big and Nightwing-y way with its highly anticipated third season. Many things have changed from where the story wrapped up in the Season 2 finale back in November 2019, such as the early-season absences of Teagan Croft's Rachel/Raven and Conor Leslie's Donna/Wonder Girl, with no follow-up about Esai Morales' Deathstroke (at least so far). But with big exits come big entrances, and Season 3 has given fans a lot to indulge in already.
As a Titans fan from the first minute — or at least the first F-bomb — I'm definitely enjoying Season 3 on the whole, although similarly to how things went in the first two seasons, there are certain persisting elements that keep me from affixing it to a Wayne Family-approved pedestal. So now that we're a third of the way through the season, let's quickly run through six things Titans Season 3 is definitely getting right, followed by three elements that the DC series is getting not so right.
Right: Titans Still Looks And Feels Like A Comic Book
Considering Titans Season 3 largely takes place in Gotham City, it's only proper for the series to have maintained its grim-yet-splashy comic aesthetic. A lot of the visual appeal comes out of the colorful and eye-grabbing costumes and superheroic powers, of course, but the locations, performances, up-and-down plotting are also right in line with the source material. At a time when superhero-centric TV shows are becoming increasingly more self-aware and eager to rattle the format, Titans is thankfully still an exciting and enjoyably brutal flip through a live-action comic book.
Right: Independent Adult Barbara Gordon
I am always a sucker for the spotlight shining brightly on Barbara Gordon, especially in live-action, and actress Savannah Welch has been an impressive addition to Titans so far. (Though I'll transparently admit that her work in the yet-to-release Episode 6 also influenced this choice.) This Barbara doesn't need her former Batgirl mantle or the Oracle persona to kick ass in Gotham City as this universe's Commissioner Gordon. Which means she also doesn't need her highly influential (and late) father around to keep a semblance of peace in the crime-ridden city. Get 'em, Babs! So until we get the long-gestating Batgirl feature from Warner Bros., this Barbara Gordon is the one for me.
Right: Red Hood's Theme
While I'll get into my take on Red Hood a little lower, I cannot deny how quickly my ears perk up each time the character's signature theme creeps into the sound design. Sometimes it's prominent and dominant, sometimes it's lurking and baiting, but it's always badass no matter what your mileage is regarding Titans' other crunchy riff-driven tracks.
Right: Anna Diop All Day, All Night
All things considered, I don't often have any major critiques with any of Titans' acting performances, and these stars are uncannily good at selling the kooky narratives and dialogue. But I assume we can all agree that Anna Diop is straight heat in every scene she's in, regardless of whether Starfire's storyline is making a damn bit of sense or not. Diop is as regal as her queenly character, and commands attention, especially when rocking her visually stunning costumes. Here's hoping Blackfire's impending presence gives Diop even more scenes to excel in.
Right: Scarecrow Is, Like, Totally Cool, Man
Titans somehow gave the world the stoner Scarecrow that we didn't know we needed, and Vincent Kartheiser's awkwardly groovy Jonathan Crane is easily one of my favorite things about this show in any season, as well as one of my favorite comic-to-TV character adaptations, period. He's like DC's Jeff Lebowski if he beelined straight past bowling for fear toxin production, a common enough switch-em-up in Gotham City, no doubt. Which is an uncomfortable point of view to have, to be sure, after the news spread of Kartheiser's investigation-worthy behavior behind the scenes, but then it's also inherently wrong to like villains in any capacity.
Right: Titans Nails The Fight Choreography
Because Titans remains more grounded with its superhero action than a lot of other marquee projects, its fight scenes thankfully rely more on tight choreography than muddy CGI. Granted, the editing can at times be a bit more on the quick-and-choppy side than I'd prefer, but it's always refreshing to see actual fisticuffs and beat-downs as opposed to characters being thrown through buildings and surviving countless explosions. Based on nothing, I'm hoping Season 3 gives us Brenton Thwaites' Nightwing in an episode-long fight, filmed in just one shot, like Daredevil's hallway fight. Just...for an entire episode, in case that part needed repeating.
Not So Right: Jason's Transition Into Red Hood
As excited as I was for Titans to introduce the rather iconic comic book line-crosser Red Hood, and as solid as I think star Curran Walters is in the role, I cannot deny being sorely disappointed in how Jason Todd's resurrection was handled. I do understand that giving Jason a quick, back to normal dip in a secret Lazarus Pit puts the onus of villainy squarely on his shoulders, but that's precisely what I don't like. Red Hood should be a transformed version of Jason inside and out, so that any eventual redemption will feel that much more earned, and his resurrection should have been a more traumatic piece of his puzzle. Otherwise, Bruce's in-shock reaction and subsequent murder of Joker are a lot less poignant, which I'll concede could be part of the point.
Not So Right: Making Batman And/Or Bruce Seem Tolerable
While on the subject of ol' Brucey boy, I have to share that Iain Glen's billionaire vigilante is one of my least favorite elements of Titans. (Something else I'll concede may be part of the Batman-eschewing point.) While Glen and his Gotham City accent are fine and dandy, I do not buy this Bruce being someone who had, at least until recently, struck fear into the hearts of maniacal supervillains while also inspiring hateful spite within his younger wards. Nor does he give off "world's greatest detective" vibes. Sure, the playboy persona comes across, because we're talking about Glen here. But I'd kind of rather not see Bruce or Batman at all rather than seeing a purposefully limited version of the legendary character.
Not So Right: Giving Beast Boy And Others Meaningful Arcs
Across both comics and animated TV projects, Beast Boy has cemented himself as a fan favorite DC hero, with his wisecracking and animal transformations distracting from his emotional personal story. That has come in small doses with Ryan Potter's Gar, and despite the actor being endlessly charming and watchable, Season 3 has done little with Beast Boy beyond giving him fun Wayne Manor moments and having him turn into...oh, let's see...a tiger again. We should have seen him turn into at least a dozen other animals by now, and the character's plot responsibilities should amount to more than "making sure Superboy doesn't burn the cucumber sandwiches."
To that end, Joshua Orpin's Conner is also sorely lacking in story fodder, Anna Diop's Kori could use some speeding along with her arc, and I'm wondering if we'll even see Minka Kelly's Dawn/Dove again now that Alan Ritchson's Hank/Hawk has been killed. It's obvious that having a lot of characters makes it that much harder to spread the love to everyone, but here's hoping the balance is better realized in the back half of the season.
Again, we're still not even to the halfway point of Season 3, so fans can rest assured that Titans will deliver many more exciting comic-inspired moments in all the episodes on the way. New installments drop Thursdays on HBO Max, so be sure to keep streaming those while also keeping up with everything else hitting the 2021 Fall TV schedule.
Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.
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