Common knowledge says that by the time you hit middle school, you should stop watching cartoons and move on to more "mature" practices, like being awkward around everyone all the time and hair gel. And by "common knowledge," I mean Nathan, who ripped up the Middle-earth poster I had in my locker. But I just couldn't do it. Not because I didn't know how to be awkward. No, I had that part locked down. It was because cartoons were still too good to give up. And one of my favorite around that time period, along with stuff like Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars, was Teen Titans.
Teen Titans was amazing. It was a great mix of superhero hijinks and thoughtful storytelling. Every character had a distinct personality, which is something that's always troubled me about DC comics characters, as they tend to mostly be defined by whether they're more stoic or less stoic than Superman. And each personality was fun, as they played off of each other really well. Robin was the cocky but insecure leader. Starfire was goofy and excitable, but also shy. Raven was dark and brooding, but also absurdly powerful. Cyborg was brash, intelligent, and unfailingly loud. And Beast Boy was immature and reckless, but always had your back, no matter what. It was a great team dynamic, and you never felt like someone wasn't pulling their weight. The same can't be said for the Justice League, because come the fuck on, Hawkman. At least try.
And thanks to the hubris of man and the unstoppable rise of the niche streaming service, we're getting a live-action Teen Titans series. And Robin, of course, is a main member. And he's dressed up ... a lot like Batman, actually. He's also in a very Batman-esque pose: looking down, probably thinkin' about dead parents.
This is kind of troubling, because Robin works best when he's not like Batman at all. First off, it's much cooler, color scheme-wise. Batman is the tank-shaped dude with the black combat armor, and Robin is dressed like he fell into a pile of bandanas. I also always thought that Batman approved of him dressing that way because it made for a good battle tactic: Robin, in his colorful outfit, would draw the attention and gunfire of the crooks, while Batman snuck around unnoticed and choked dudes out. I told my colleagues about my Robin-is-a-bullet-filled-distraction theory, and oddly, they reacted with horror.
And I know that Batman probably won't be in this show, but still, you can't look at a dark and gritty Robin without thinking of Batman, who is mostly dark and gritty. Glen Murakami, the creator of the Teen Titans cartoon, even said that he wanted to separate Batman from Robin in the minds of the viewers. And when you have Robin going Bruce-less, it's the only approach that works. Robin has to be his own thing, not Batman in dark red. Otherwise, you're not watching Teen Titans; you're watching Batman's Kid And His Super Friends.
It doesn't help that the guy playing Robin is 28, the guy playing Beast Boy is 22, and the person playing Starfire is 29. So not really "teen" Titans. Well, except for the girl playing Raven, who is 13. So yeah. That should be neat. Either it's a bunch of people pretending to be teens while hanging out with one actual teen, or a bunch of adults recruiting new heroes from their local Hot Topic. That's a neat take. Teen Titan it is, I guess.
Daniel has a Twitter. Go to it. Enjoy yourself. Kick your boots off and stay for a while.
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