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.

Titans CR: DC
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 TRAILER: Young Justice: Outsiders!

The long awaited 3rd Season of Young Justice premieres on 1/4/19 on the DC UNIVERSE streaming service. Check out the new trailer for Young Justice: Outsiders right here!

Jensen Ackles Should Play The Red Hood In The New Batman Movie

Hey Everybody,

Paul here…

Freaks and Geeks

I wanted to touch on a casting rumor that’s been going around recently: Jensen Ackles playing The Red Hood in one of the upcoming Batman film projects. Regardless of what you think of the final film, the inclusion of the suit of a dead Robin in The Batcave caught everyone’s attention in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. As soon as the image was shown in the trailer for BvS, fans immediately speculated what this meant in the larger context of the DCEU.

Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice

As a weird side note that I think is indicative of the state of DC’s cinematic universe, the DCEU (or the DC Extended Universe) didn’t originate with Warner Bros. or DC. They never actually had a name for this cinematic universe they were creating. Apparently, it the name came from a writer at Entertainment Weekly and it just stuck. So, the powers that be finally got around to naming this shit show of a universe, with the official title now being: The Worlds of DC. Wow, there really is no one flying the fucking plane here…

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Anyway, when fans saw the Robin suit displayed in The Batcave with “HA HA HA JOKE’S ON YOU BATMAN” spray painted on it, it was assumed that this was the former suit of Jason Todd. Jason Todd was the second Robin after Dick Grayson got tired of Bruce’s bullshit and went off to follow his own path as Nightwing. In the comics, after Jason died, Bruce eventually took in Tim Drake who became the new Robin. What do you get for the billionaire who has everything? Young boys to put in mortal danger every night!

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NOPE! He’s Dead. Very, Very dead.

In one of The Joker’s many acts of horrific violence, he brutally beat Jason with a crowbar in a warehouse and then left him for dead as the warehouse exploded with Jason inside. Arguably, Jason’s death was as much of a defining traumatic loss for Bruce Wayne as the death of his parents. Bruce (very rightly) felt responsible for Jason’s death and blamed himself for not being able to save him. But that didn’t stop Bruce from continuing to churn out Robin’s! No, sir! At least 3 or 4 of these poor little bastards have bit the dust since Jason. What’s that? Another Robin is dead? Must be Wednesday!

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In comics, no one stays dead forever. So, after several years and an insanely convoluted series of events, but for the sake of this article lets just keep it simple and say Ra’s Al Ghul’s Lazarus Pit was involved, Jason was resurrected. (if you want, you can look up the whole story of EXACTLY how Jason came back to life, good luck and God be with you). The point is that Jason Todd was back.

 

So the story of Jason’s return to Gotham and taking on the persona of The Red Hood, was told in Judd Winnick’s excellent Batman: Under The Red Hood. I highly recommend you check it out, it’s a great read and I put the Amazon link below if you want to pick up the graphic novel. https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Under-Hood-Judd-Winick/dp/1401231454/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1535344301&sr=8-3&keywords=batman+under+the+red+hood

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At this point, you guys probably know that I’m a big fan of the direct to Blu Ray and Digital DC Animated Movies, like The Death of Superman (you can read my review for that film right here: https://best-media-world.com/2018/07/29/movie-review-the-death-of-superman/ )

One of the best DC Animated movies is Batman: Under The Red Hood, based on the graphic novel of the same name. Again, I highly recommend this one so here’s the Amazon link to the Blu Ray: https://www.amazon.com/Batman-Under-Red-Hood-Blu-ray/dp/B003ITZBVI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1535344301&sr=8-2&keywords=batman+under+the+red+hood

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From here on in I’m going to be specifically referring to the Animated Movie version of Batman: Under The Red Hood, which combines story elements from A Death In The Family into the narrative. A new and brutal vigilante going by The Red Hood shows up in Gotham and starts killing criminals and crime bosses left and right. Batman can’t have this shit going on in his town, so he confronts the very well trained Red Hood and is horrified to find out that The Red Hood is his formally dead ward, Jason Todd.

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Jason had always been a more violent Robin, but getting killed playing by Bruce’s rules seriously changed his perspective on dealing with criminals. Basically he subscribes to the “see bad guy, kill bad guy” philosophy of crime fighting. More than anything Jason isn’t angry at Bruce because he was killed. He forgives him for that, what he can’t forgive is: Why the fuck didn’t Bruce kill The Joker? Jason doesn’t think Bruce should go all Charles Bronson on the Gotham Rogues gallery, but if ever there was an exception to Bruce’s (bullshit) “No Killing” rule, it’s The Joker. As you can imagine Jason is pretty fucking pissed. I don’t want to go into too much more of the story in case you want to watch the movie or read the graphic novel.

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I should probably point out that one of the reasons this movie is great is the voice performances. Bruce Greenwood is probably the second best actor behind Kevin Conroy to voice Batman. He plays him in the soon to be returning Young Justice animated series as well. Aaaaaaand finally we come to the point: Jason Todd is perfectly played by Jensen Ackles who plays Dean Winchester on one of my favorite TV shows, Supernatural.

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If any of you listen to my podcast, The World’s Best Podcast, you may find this funny because my love of the show Supernatural is sort of a running joke on the show. But, like I said, the whole point of this article is that Jensen Ackels would make a fucking great live action Jason Todd. About a week ago a picture went viral of Ackles standing next to a Red Hood statue or costume or something.

90C03DDE-5D66-4D5E-8579-621DD90AB133  Now this might mean nothing, but sometimes pictures like this are posted when actors are in talks with a studio to take a role. Or sometimes actors will post pictures like these to get conversations exactly like this one started, so they get on filmmakers radar. Regardless, this photo prompted a lot of fans to jockey for Ackles to be cast as The Red Hood in an upcoming Worlds of DC film. Rumor has it, Matt Reeve’s Batman film may contain elements of the Under The Red Hood story. With multiple Joker movies, a Nightwing film, and Gotham City Sirens all in different points of development, there are plenty of places The Red Hood could pop up. The flames of fandom were fanned when this fucking spectacular piece of artwork, featuring Ackles as The Red Hood, made the rounds online. The very cool piece was done by artist BossLogic, who’s done some incredible artwork over the years.

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Fucking awesome, right?

Supernatural is going into it’s 14th season this fall and there’s a reason a show like that has such staying power. Especially the last few season have been among the best in the show’s run. Jensen Ackles is a huge part of that. He’s an incredibly underrated actor who’s given some amazing performances on the show.

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This isn’t the first time he’s been associated with a superhero project either. He was one of the front runners for Captain America before Chris Evans ultimately took up the shield. He was offered the role of Hawkeye in the MCU, but turned it down (I love Supernatural, but I bet he regrets that move a little bit). Personally, I always thought he would make a great Hal Jordan. Bottom line is, anyone familiar with Supernatural knows he would crush it as The Red Hood. He has the physicality for the role and he’s a great fucking actor. He has a raw edge to him that would work great for a character like Jason as opposed to say, Nightwing. Not to mention He already knows the character of The Red Hood well. He’s the appropriate age, because we’re dealing with an older Batman. Interestingly, Supernatural is producing 20 episodes this season instead of it’s usual 23. They gave a very plausible reason for this, basically that it’s easier on the cast. The main actors have families and they shoot the show in Vancouver, but they live in Texas. Or perhaps one of the two leads needed a few extra months off to shoot a high profile film project? Hmmm..

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Nothing official has come from Warner Bros or DC about this potential casting, but DC fans seem to have really gotten behind it. The World’s of DC need solid, talented actors to fill out their universe. Whatever form the new Batman movie takes, I’ve always wanted to see more of the Bat Family in a Batman film. I don’t think Under The Red Hood would be the Batman story I’d like to see DC make, but that doesn’t mean Jason Todd couldn’t be a part of the film. Jensen Ackles would be a fucking awesome Red Hood. As always, thanks for reading!

-Paul