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Titans: Everything we know about the new super-show

DC's team of young superheroes has had lots of looks over the years. Their original outing was as a mini-Justice League in The Brave and the Bold. They saw an X-Men-like revival in the form of New Teen Titans in the '80s. And their modern animated series,Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go!, have brought them to a whole new generation of fans. But soon, they'll have yet another.

Titans, the Teen Titans' first live-action television show, is coming sometime in 2018 or 2019, and fans have some good reasons to be excited. Not only are some of the most beloved members of the Titans making their very first live-action debut, but there are a number of talented people working on both sides of the camera to bring DC's second-biggest superteam to life.

Yet, while Titans is well into production, we still don't know much about how Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, and the rest will make the transition from the comic page to the small screen. Here's a round-up of everything that's been announced so far, as well as what it might mean. Booyah!

A crew of familiar faces — with one big exception

If you know the Titans thanks to Cartoon Network shows like Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go!, Warner Bros.' live action take on the franchise should be very familiar. It features pretty much the same team, although there's one major character missing. Don't worry. There's a good reason.

Aussie actor Brenton Thwaites will slip into Robin's tights, and he's bringing the rest of the crew with him. The gothy half-demon empath Raven will be played by Teagan Croft. The intergalactic warrior princess Starfire will be portrayed by 24: Legacy star Anna Diop. The shape-shifting Beast Boy, who doubles as the team's comic relief, will be brought to life by Ryan Potter. According to the show's casting breakdowns (which use fake names, but it's pretty clear who's who), the characters won't be exactly like their cartoon counterparts — Batman's former protege is in his late 20s, not his teens, when he founds the Titans, for example — but it sounds like the group dynamics will be mostly the same.

As for Cyborg, well, he's busy elsewhere. If you missed it, he was a major part of 2017's Justice League movie and is set to star in his own solo film, which is probably why he doesn't seem to be slated for Titans. If you were hoping to see the whole gang, that's kind of a bummer, but don't worry. It sounds like Warner Bros. has big plans for the robotic crime fighter. 

Their personal lives will play a major part on the show

Life isn't all crimefighting all the time, even if you're a superhero, and if the leaked set photos are any indication, expect to see the Titans spend just as much time in their civilian clothes as in their spandex.

So far, Warner Bros. and DC have been coy about what's in store for our heroes, but we do know a couple of things. According to the casting breakdowns, Starfire is being hunted by a mysterious assassin, while Robin spends his time as a cop when he's not too busy being a vigilante. He even has a partner, Detective Amy Rohrbach, who'll be played by The Carrie Diaries veteran Lindsey Gort.

Juggling two different crime-fighting careers at the same time sounds like a lot to deal with, but Dick Grayson has done it before. In the comics, Nightwing (Grayson's adult superhero name) moved to the city of Blüdhaven and enlisted in its Police Department, where he spent his daylight hours fighting corruption while doing his best to rid the city of its resident kingpin, a gangster known as Blockbuster. Rohrbach was an ally then, too. She helped clear Grayson's name when he was framed for murder and eventually figured out his secret identity. Thankfully for Dick, she made sure that it remained a secret.

The Titans aren't the only superheroes in town

Even the most powerful superheroes do better with friends around. On Titans, expect the main quartet to get quite a bit of help from Hawk and Dove, who'll be played by Alan Ritchson and and Friday Night Lights' Minka Kelly, respectively.

In the comics, Hank "Hawk" Hall is an impetuous and reckless vigilante who got his powers from a Lord of Chaos, while his partner, Dawn Granger, is an avatar of the Lord of Order. As you might guess from their names, they've both got very different views on crime fighting. Hawk, who has super strength, speed, agility, and accelerated healing powers, likes to use his fists to solve problems, and loses control without Dove's calming presence. Dove, meanwhile, relies on her brain to fight bad guys. In addition to heightened senses and flight abilities, Dove can also "read" people's intentions, letting her both judge their characters and anticipate their future moves.

According to Deadline, Hawk and Dove are both recurring characters on Titans, so don't expect them to show up in every episode — not at first, anyway. As Deadline's report on Ritchson's casting notes, both Ritchson and Kelly have options in their contracts that could make them series regulars in season two, if Titans gets that far. If Hawk and Dove go over really well with fans, Deadline notes, there might even be a spin-off series in the heroes' future, although if that happens, it won't be for a while.

They're not even the show's only super-team

In addition to Hawk and Dove, the Doom Patrol, a team of misfit superheroes created by Arnold Drake, Bob Haney, and Bruno Premiani, is slated to make regular guest appearances, too.

The Doom Patrol isn't DC's best-known superhero team — their most famous outing is probably Grant Morrison's ultra-weird run from the late '80s and early '90s — but if you're familiar with the X-Men, you'll get what they're all about immediately. In fact, the Doom Patrol and X-Men are so similar that many people, including Drake himself, think that the latter is a rip-off of the former (it's not, probably). Billed as "the world's strangest heroes," the Doom Patrol was founded by wheelchair-bound scientist Niles "The Chief" Caulder, who subjected regular people to "accidents" that gave them superpowers, ruining their lives in the process.

On Titans, the Chief will be played by Mexican actor Bruno Bichir, and he'll be joined by teammates Elasti-Girl, Robotman, and Negative Man, who will be portrayed by Drop Dead Divas star April Bowlby, Jake Michaels, and Dwain Murphy respectively. Expect them to show up in Titans' fifth episode. The Doom Patrol might seem like a weird choice for the show, but the team has a direct connection to the Titans: in the comics, Beast Boy, got his first taste of superheroing as a member of the Doom Patrol after Elasti-Girl and her husband adopted him.

The show's first villain will be — wait, who?!

According to TheHashtagShow – which first revealed the Titans casting breakdowns and broke the news that Alan Ritchson would play Hawk – Titans' first antagonist will be The Acolyte, a middle-aged man who is "after [Raven] and her powers, trying to kidnap her after he murders her mother." The casting notice also mentions her adoptive mom, who is "killed in an attempt to kidnap [Raven]."

If that name leaves you scratching your head, you're not alone. Even for DC die-hards, the Acolyte isn't a big name. He first appeared in the Teen Titans-esque series Young Justice, and his main goal seems to be replacing the Judeo-Christian God with…someone else. In his first appearance, the Acolyte's chosen deity is Kali, the Hindu goddess of death and destruction, and his method of attack is a Teletubbies analogue called Hugga-Tugga-Thuggees, which the Acolyte used to try and convince America's kids to kill their parents. He doesn't seem to have powers, and his backstory is still unexplored.

ScienceFiction.com speculates the Acolyte may stand in for classic Teen Titans villain Brother Blood, who appeared on Arrow's second season. Both have vaguely religious gimmicks, while Brother Blood has strong ties to Raven: he's a servant of the demon Trigon, who's Raven's father. Will Acolyte play Titan's big bad for a whole season or just a single episode? If they're using the character as a Brother Blood stand-in, don't be surprised if he pops up more than once.

It's going to air on a channel that doesn't exist yet

Back in 2014, Warner Bros. announced that Titans would air on TNT. In its original incarnation, Titans would star Dick Grayson as his grown-up alter-ego, Nightwing, and was close to securing a pilot order. According to reports, TNT just had to get through some executive reshuffling first.

It quite didn't work out that way. Years later, TNT passed on the long-gestating project, leaving Titans without a home. Reports noted that Titans was conceived before TNT's current regime took charge, and that president Kevin Reilly simply took the channel in a different direction — but Reilly has a different explanation. As he describes it, the pilot screenplay just wasn't good enough. 

"The script just wasn't there," Reilly tells The Hollywood Reporter. "There is an unbelievable glut of superhero things in the market right now…. I just don't think that there's a need for one that, for me, at least on paper didn't seem to be screaming to get made."

Thankfully, the Titans production staff had plenty of warning, not to mention a solid back-up plan. If Titans won't air on TNT, Warner Bros. might as well give it its own channel. Titans will premiere on Warner Bros.' upcoming DC Comics-focused streaming network alongside the upcoming animated Young Justice revival. Warner Bros. hasn't announced when the service will begin, but given that Titans is already filming episodes, expect some news soon.

At one point, the man behind the show was developing a Titans movie

If you're a superhero movie fan, you might recognize the name Akiva Goldsman — and not in a good way. The Titans creator is also the man who wrote Batman Forever and Batman & Robin, the two mid-'90s films that more or less tanked the Batman franchise. He's also responsible for cinematic misfires like The Dark Tower, Lost in Space, Transformers: The Last Knight, and I, Robot (at least Fringe, for which Goldsman wrote a number of episodes, was pretty good).

That's not a track record that's going to fill the DC Comics-faithful with hope, but at the very least Goldsman's been working on the Titans for a very long time. Way back in 2007, Warner Bros. tapped Goldsman and his business partner, Kerry Foster, to produce a live-action Teen Titans film. Mark Verheiden, a writer on Smallville and Battlestar Galactica as well as a number of comic books, was set to provide the screenplay.

Tonally, Akiva compared Teen Titans to DC's then-current properties, like the somber Batman Begins, Superman Returns, and the R-rated adaptation of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. The project stalled out, however, and it's not clear how much of the work done for the movie, if any, will make it into Titans television show. Still, the Titans did eventually show up on the big screen: July 27, 2018's Teen Titans Go! To the Movies, an animated comedy.

Behind the scenes, the show is loaded with top-tier superhero talent

Akiva Goldsman may not be DC fans' favorite writer, but don't forget: he won an Oscar in 2002 for A Beautiful Mind. On Titans, he's surrounded by a number of people who are very good at this whole superhero thing. The Titans are in good hands.

Most notably, Titans' producing staff includes Greg Berlanti, whose work you know if you've watched the CW's DC Comics shows. That's right: Berlanti is the man behind Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and Black Lightning. Those shows are popular with fans, so don't expect Titans to be any different.

Berlanti is joined on Titans by Sarah Schechter, who's been working on DC's TV output since at least 2014, as well as DC Comics President and Chief Creative Officer Geoff Johns. Don't mistake Johns for a simple television executive, though. Before Warner Bros. tapped Johns to help oversee its live-action output, he was a prolific and extremely popular comic book writer who helmed big DC events like Infinite Crisis, Blackest Night, Flashpoint, and Doomsday Clock, and had acclaimed runs on ongoing series like Green Lantern, Action Comics, JSA, and The Flash.

He's also really familiar with the Titans. In the 2000s, Johns wrote nearly 50 issues of the Teen Titans comic, introducing popular side characters like Miss Martian to DC Continuity and blowing fans' minds with stories like "Titans Tomorrow," in which the team learns that they turn evil in the future.

The superhero bonafides extend in front of the camera, too

Some members of Titans' cast, like Teagan "Raven" Croft, are virtual unknowns. Others have a little more experience, and some have even played superheroes before.

Alan Ritchson, who played Hawk, has even been more than one. If you're an old school WB fan, you'll probably recognize Alan Ritchson as Smallville's Arthur "Aquaman" Curry. Ritchson played Aquaman a handful of times from 2005 to 2010, where he joined Clark Kent's makeshift Justice League. Allegedly, he was in discussions to reprise the character in both a Justice League spin-off and a potential movie. While he's neither mean nor green, Ritchson also played Raphael in the two Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flicks.

That's not all. Ryan Potter, a.k.a. Beast Boy, may not have the most familiar face in the Titans cast, but he provided the voice for 14-year-old robotics genius Hiro Hamada in Marvel and Disney's Big Hero 6 and its television spin-off. Minka Kelly might be best known for her part on Friday Night Lights, but she also starred alongside Jessica Jones' Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor) in a short-lived Charlies' Angels reboot. That's not exactly a superhero show, but it's close! We'll take it.

A classic Teen Titans artist gives the series his thumbs up

The original Teen Titans comic debuted in 1966, but the series didn't become one of DC comics' biggest franchises until 1980, when writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez took over.

Taking cues from Marvel, which spent the '70s thrashing DC in the marketplace, Wolfman and Perez reinvented the series by giving it a mature, character-driven overhaul. Robin graduated into Nightwing. New characters like Raven, Starfire, and Cyborg joined the team, making the Titans more than just Justice League Jr. The stories were heavily serialized, and like Marvel's juggernaut hit Uncanny X-Men, focused just as much on the characters' personal lives as superpowered heroics. Teen Titans became a massive hit, selling four times better than DC's other books, and breaking ground for the publisher with uncharacteristically provocative storylines like "The Judas Contract."

Basically, when you think Titans, you think Wolfman and Perez. So, how do they feel about Titans? Perez, at least, seems fine with it. In a chat with Syfy Wire, Perez says that he'd like to see the show stick "as close to the spirit of the comic as possible," but that doesn't mean that he's advocating a strict adaptation. 

"The characters were created in the 1980s," Perez notes. "There are going to be different points of view and different slants, and the world at large is different." Besides, Perez notes, the comics that he and Wolfman made aren't going anywhere. If the new Titans show doesn't click with you, a trade paperback of the original series will do just fine.