MUST WATCH: Titans

Hey Everyone,

Paul here…

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I have some pretty surprising news to share with you good folks today, Titans, on the DC UNIVERSE streaming service, is pretty fucking great. Of course, like many of you, I was skeptical going into this show. It seemed like the negative buzz began when the first trailer dropped (I kind of dug it). I really don’t mind dark and gritty, I also know that you can’t judge a project by it’s trailer. So, a lot of people hated this show before it even premiered, based on what they saw in promotional material and trailers. Many felt it seemed reminiscent of the overly serious and violent DCEU, excuse me, The Worlds of DC (good luck getting that to stick). Personally, I don’t dislike the recent DC superhero films nearly as much as most fans do. Besides their only real critical and commercial success, Wonder Woman, I really like Man of Steel and though it’s hugely flawed, I kind of love Batman V Superman.

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Dick Grayson AKA Robin/Nightwing
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Rachel AKA Raven

           So why was I skeptical about the Titans series? Despite my excitement at the prospect of an adult oriented live action Titans series, the word behind the scenes was that the show wasn’t very good. Then there were the costumes. If you’re a comic book fan and you’ve ever read Teen Titans, you would know that they have very distinct styles, with colorful and bright costumes. Some of the set photos had leaked online and the pictures I saw of Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy in costume looked absolutely horrendous. Especially Starfire, who is one of my favorite Titans. The pictures of her costume made her like a hooker from the 1970’s. With all of that in mind, things didn’t look good for Titans.

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Beast Boy
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Starfire

Now Robin, on the other hand, was a different story. I love the Robin costume on this series. It isn’t an easy superhero uniform to pull off in live action. Just look at Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Besides the atrocious version of Robin played by Chris O’Donnell in those films, this is the first time we’ve really seen Robin on screen in the golden age of superhero storytelling. It looked like Titans nailed the Robin uniform in my opinion. It looked functional, not too bright, not too dark, and frankly it was just cool. Plus, I thought Brenton Thwaites was a perfect pick for Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing. At the very least I liked what I’d seen from Dick Grayson in the show’s trailers. Which was a big deal for me because Dick has always been one of my favorite superheroes. So I was still holding out some hope that Titans could be a great show.

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  It certainly didn’t help that when I signed up for a 15 month subscription to the DC UNIVERSE streaming service, the app was terrible. It felt like it wasn’t nearly ready to be launched. I couldn’t log into my account, there wasn’t nearly enough content, the whole thing was a shit show. Even now, months later, I can’t log into DC UNIVERSE on any other device except for my tablet. That’s a big problem. I had to contact the team that handles customer service multiple times. As much as I hated the app, I still really wanted to see Titans. More importantly, Young Justice Season 3 premieres early next year on DC UNIVERSE after Titans Season 1 wraps up.

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  In spite of all the problems, I enjoyed the first episode of Titans. It didn’t blow me away, but I liked it. It certainly is not your classic version of the Teen Titans by any means, but it had enough going on to keep me interested. 

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Dick just beat the living hell out of these guys

   The over arcing story of the season is about the Titans coming together to protect Raven from a cult, that is trying to unleash her demon father, Trigon, upon the Earth. The Raven stuff, especially in the early episodes, had a real Rosemary’s Baby/The Exorcist kind of vibe that worked really well. Raven is the character that really brings the team together in the story.

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Raven in full demon mode

  In the series, Dick Grayson left Gotham City to become a cop in Detroit after a massive falling out with Batman. The show manages to explore Dick‘s complicated relationship with Bruce Wayne, without actually having Batman present as a character. Seeing why Dick went out on his own and his character arc in general is by far my favorite part of the show. 

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    You see how Batman was an incredibly violent and negative influence on Dick. Early on some people were concerned that the show seemed needlessly graphic. While Titans is an extremely brutal show, arguably even more so than something like Daredevil, the violence isn’t gratuitously used for shock value or edginess. The brutality is important to Dick Grayson’s story arc because you see just how close he came to losing himself under Bruce’s influence. Being Batman’s Robin brought out all of his worst instincts. This is most apparent in episode 6, “Jason Todd”, fittingly where we’re introduced to the new Robin, Jason Todd. 

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Dick meets his replacement, the new Robin: Jason Todd

 

 

   At this point, Dick certainly doesn’t have a very high opinion of Bruce. He more or less feels like Bruce Wayne just used him as a weapon, or tool in his war on crime. Meeting Jason just seems to confirm those beliefs. Despite the amount of time that’s passed, it’s still very raw emotionally for Dick. You can tell he hasn’t gotten over his issues from his time working with Batman. Meeting his replacement certainly doesn’t help. It’s one of several great passive aggressive “fuck you”s Batman throws at Dick. Which is impressive considering, again, we don’t actually see Batman. Brenton Thwaites is damn near perfect casting. Thwaites is very believable both physically and in the more dramatic aspects of the performance. Though Raven is the big through line of the season, Dick is really the main character. As a long time fan, it’s a lot of fun seeing how well Dick Grayson is handled.

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Jason and Dick

   Episode 6, “Jason Todd”, is also a good example of how the season has been structured. One episode will serve to further the main story and continue to build up the Titans coming together as team, while the next episode shifts the focus to showcasing and introducing new DC Comics characters into the narrative. The episodes switch from one to the other each week. For example, so far we’ve had episodes featuring Hawk and Dove, Doom Patrol, Jason Todd, and Donna Troy AKA Wonder Girl. The DC character episodes tend to be the stronger ones because so far each new character introduced from the DC cannon have been really fun and interesting.

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Things get a little intense when Dick realizes that Jason, the new Robin, is kind of a fucking psycho

   I spent the bulk of this article talking about Dick Grayson, mainly because I like the character so much and he’s the most well developed on the show. I like the other Titans well enough. Certainly more than I thought I would when the series began. Starfire or Kory as she’s referred to on the show, has really grown on me. Even with very little time being given to her backstory, she’s probably my second favorite Titan so far. She’s basically an exiled alien princess, but the show hasn’t taken the time to get into any of that yet and it remains to be seen how the series will tie her origin into the Raven storyline.

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Unless you’re a hardcore comic book fan like me, there isn’t a lot of incentive for even a moderate comic book fan or superhero geek to subscribe to DC UNIVERSE. Which is a shame because Titans is turning out to be a fun and unique look at the DC Comics Universe. I’ve heard rumors that eventually the show will become available on Netflix, but it’s not clear when that would happen. Regardless, if and when you have the opportunity to watch Titans, I highly recommended giving this series a shot. The show has already been renewed for Season 2 and I’m really looking forward to seeing how the show wraps up it’s first season. 

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    Titans is by no means a perfect show, but there’s some great stuff in here despite it’s flaws. The big thing the show has going for it is that even with all the superhero movies and TV shows out there, Titans is showcasing characters and stories that have never been seen in live action. Although I’m sure very few of you are running out to subscribe to DC UNIVERSE, Titans is definitely a show to keep on your radar. If you go into it with your expectations in check, you may be surprised how much you enjoy this fun, new series.

Thanks for reading!

-Paul

 

New Pictures From Avengers 4 and DC’s Titans!

Hey Everybody,

Some really cool concept art from upcoming superhero projects has hit the internet today. Including our best looks at Captain Marvel and Robin from DC’s Titans. Most of this I found over at CBR.com, but first is the concept art that looks like it’s from the upcoming Captain Marvel film. The big giveaway being the look at a young Nick Fury, which is very cool. Check it out:

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Then we have a few cool concept art images that are definitely from Avengers 4…

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A few things to point out here include, Hawkeye is finally back (Yay!), Hulk seems to have a costume of some sort. Does this help regulate his transformation from Banner to Hulk and vice versa? Consider they had performance issues in Infinity War that could be a factor. This image of Thanos is interesting because he’s armored up and he has a gun. Why does he need all that if he has the Infinity Gauntlet? Is it working properly? Or did he blow its load killing half the Universe? SO MANY QUESTIONS!!!!!

Finally, moving from Marvel over to DC, we have our best look yet at Dick Grayson Robin from Titans, the new series from the upcoming DC streaming service, DC UNIVERSE. Take a look…

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Cool stuff, huh? Anyway thanks for checking us out as always!

-Paul

Blu-Ray Review: Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

 

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Remembering Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

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When fans look back at the Batman movies that took place in the same universe as the wonderful Batman: The Animated Series, they most likely remember the fantastic Batman Beyond: Return of The Joker or the classic Batman: Mask of The Phantasm. As of last summer, we can add 2017’s Batman and Harley Quinn to the list, but unfortunately that movie sucks.

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However, there’s a hidden gem that a lot of people forget about; Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero. This was a direct to video animated film taking in the BTAS Universe that came out in 1998. No doubt hoping to capitalize on the Mr. Freeze buzz in that was in the air after Arnold Schwarzenegger’s heartbreaking, Oscar winning performance in the critical darling and mega hit, Batman & Robin. Oh wait, I forgot the movie was explosive diarrhea and killed the Batman live action film franchise for nearly a decade. I’m sure there’s an alternate reality out there where it was The Dark Knight of it’s day.

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But I think that was definitely the intention. Animation takes longer than live action to produce especially in the 90’s. Even though this came out in 1998, it must have started production a few years earlier. So Warner Bros. probably thought Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero would tie in to what they believed would be another hit Batman movie. It really feels like somewhere around 95’or 96’, Warner Bros. told Bruce Timm and his crew that if we let you do another Batman Animated movie, it better be about Mr. Freeze. Of course, Batman & Robin was such a piece of shit, people eventually put it out of their minds after the film bombed. Unfortunately I think Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero was forgotten a little as well.

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Which is a shame because it’s a hell of a little flick. Nowhere near as good as Mask of The Phantasm or Return of The Joker, but still solid as fuck. It’s certainly about one thousand times better than Batman & Robin, it feels wrong to even compare the two. The movie plays like a darker, longer episode of the show. But at only 66 minuets, it still feels like a movie with a 3 act structure as opposed to a multi part episode of the series.

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Basically at some point during Batman: The Animated Series, Freeze found out his wife Nora was actually still alive and being kept in cryogenic stasis. They’re living a peaceful life in the arctic with Freeze’s 2 pet Polar Bears and an Inuit boy that Freeze rescued and adopted after his parents died. There’s an accident involving some poor bastards who stumble onto this little family (it doesn’t end well for them), Nora’s medical equipment is damaged and her condition deteriorates rapidly. Freeze and the whole Fam (including the fucking polar bears) head to Gotham where Freeze meets up with his old colleague, Dr. Benson another expert in cryogenics who’s a massive piece of shit with serious financial debt. Benson tells Freeze that the only way to save his wife is an organ transplant. Nora has a rare blood type so they need to kidnap some who’s alive, kill them, and harvest their organs. Benson the medical professional that he is, gets on board right away when Freeze drops a lump of gold the size of football on his desk and tells him it’s from a mine he discovered in the arctic, which is Benson’s if he successfully helps Freeze. And wouldn’t you know it? The perfect match: Barbara Gordon. Batgirl. Commission Gordons’s daughter and the love of Dick Grayson’s (Robin) life.

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There are some great action sequences including the scene kidnapping Barbara while she’s out to dinner with Dick at upscale nightclub, which starts with Freeze coming for Barbara in the club, polar bears and all, and ends with Dick in badass motorcycle chase. The film’s finale on an oil rig that going up in flames is exciting and genuinely edge of your seat tense.

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This is some FUCKED. UP. SHIT.  They’re trying to hold her down so they can straight up murder her to give Freeze’s wife an organ transplant. That’s fucking dark.

This is also arguably the darkest we see Freeze, who’s always been one of the most sympathetic members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery. Killing a man out of revenge for murdering your wife and destroying your life is one thing, but butchering an innocent young woman to harvest an organ is pretty fucking dark. Especially considering she was basically already dead and the procedure did not seem to have a high likelihood of success when it’s being performed on an abandoned oil rig by a criminally negligent doctor who hasn’t changed his clothes in days and is solely motivated by paying off his shady debts. We do see glimmers of the honorable man that still exists somewhere deep beneath the ice of Freeze, but his main mission here is kind of unforgivable. And those polar bears aren’t fucking around either!

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I rewatched this because it just came out on Blu-ray, which includes all the other Mr. Freeze episodes in the Batman: The Animated series Universe (including Batman Beyond), and I found myself thinking it was kind of underrated. This movie is also notable because it came out in the time betweeen the original Batman: The Animated series ended and The New Batman/Superman Adventures began. It was the same show, same continuity, but there was a big character redesign. Also, there are some big character developments that happen between the change over on the show and this movie hints at some of those upcoming character developments.

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This is a good example of the character design changed between seasons.

I definitely recommend picking up Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, I know I did. Especially if you have the other animated movies on Blu-Ray. It’s very good Batman movie and the Blu-Ray transfer looks good on the traditional animation. They experimented with some computer animation for certain shots and vehicles, that don’t work and look super dated. Other than that, this gets a big thumbs up from me. Give it a watch!

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In the end they managed to save his wife without kidnapping and murdering a 20  year old girl and that’s all that really matters.

-Paul

Oh FUCK! I forget about Batman: Mystery of The Batwoman! That’s one of the movies too..

 

You can pick up the Blu-Ray through our Amazon Affilliate link here:

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