According to executive producer Geoff Johns, Robin will be a lot more violent in Titans than usually depicted. First debuting in 1940, Dick Grayson was part of a family of circus acrobats. After his parents are murdered by a crime boss, Grayson is taken in by Bruce Wayne and trained to become Batman’s first official sidekick. The character has been adapted numerous times across various mediums. Most prominently, he was brought to life via Burt Ward in the campy 1960’s television version, which has since received its own Titans-esque mash-up. He was later adapted for the big screen by Chris O’Donnell for Batman Forever and the much-maligned Batman & Robin, before being alluded to via Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises.
He will next be seen DC Universe’s Titans, played by Brenton Thwaites as he attempts to distance himself from Batman and a life of vigilantism, as evidenced by the now infamous “F-ck Batman” line. Working as a detective in Detroit, Grayson will find himself drawn back into the life, however, when he encounters Rachel, aka. Raven. They will also be joined by Starfire and Beast Boy, forming a line-up of Titans as they battle the malevolent forces pursuing them.
Despite the fact that Grayson will still be seen in the costume, Titans will pick up with the character adrift. Struggling with his inner darkness, the show will depict the character’s first tentative steps away from Robin and towards the more emotionally balanced Nightwing. Speaking to EW, Johns revealed that this incarnation of Robin is definitely not one people will be used to:
“It’s definitely a Dick Grayson that’s more violent than people are used to. It’s definitely a Dick Grayson that is struggling more than I think people are used to.”
Audiences already caught a glimpse of the violence in the first Titans trailer, wherein Grayson took down a gang of thugs with the utmost skull-crushing brutality. According to Thwaites, this struggle will be equally emphasized in Grayson’s interactions with Jason Todd, who Batman has chosen as the new Robin. Whether that means the action will return to Gotham or Batman will merely send his new protege to monitor the original remains to be seen. Their relationship, however, will clearly be antagonistic in nature, as Todd’s carefree and brash nature will no doubt rub up against the more anguished and embittered Grayson.
The concept of characters finding themselves and dealing with their issues through violence is hardly a new one, especially in comics. Although it’ll no doubt draw criticism that they are simply making the character into Batman while trying to avoid oversaturating the name and brand of Batman, similar to what is often leveled at Arrow. To see such as Dick Grayson go through such an arc, though, feels both fresh and yet true to the character. After all, a common theme of the world of Batman has always been how much darkness can a person surround themselves with before they, too, succumb to it.
Having both Todd and Grayson active as Robin at the same time, however, is wildly divergent from the comics, which had Grayson already acting as Nightwing by the time Todd entered the scene. Regardless, the juxtaposition of the two characters is an idea that could produce a wealth of dramatic and action-packed material. Not to mention the fact it could lead to plenty of nods and references to please hardcore fans of the comics, especially regarding Todd’s own dark future. Whether this means the action will ultimately return to Gotham or the Caped Crusader merely sends his new protege to monitor the original remains to be seen. Still, it’s quite a novel way of having Batman loom as much over the series as he does over Gotham and Dick Grayson, thus offsetting some of the aforementioned issues, all without actually having him (for the time being) appear.
Titans premieres on DC Universe on October 12.