Comics On TV

Titans' Jason Todd Confronts His Batman Issues in Season 3

Series star Curran Walters and executive producer Greg Walker talk superhero trauma and the just-launched new season.

by | August 12, 2021 | Comments

Titans is very much the DC Entertainment television wunderkind. It startled audiences with its first line of dialogue – a coarsely phrased admonishment of the Batman. But for those who accepted its rebel spirit, it assembled a Titans team of misfits and emotionally damaged people. There were no easy answers across the first two seasons, of course, and additional traumas pitted people against one another. And no one seemed more damaged by those events than Jason Todd (Curran Walters).

In fact, Jason’s trauma is very much at the center of Titans third season, which launched on Thursday on HBO Max. The first three episodes reframe the series as Gotham-centric and take several cues from some of the most famous Jason Todd stories. But considering what the trailers have teased about the new season, fans may be surprised to see Jason back at Wayne Manor as the first episode begins.

Curran Walters in Titans Season 3 - Episode 1

(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)

“I had mixed feelings when I first got the script,” Walters said when Rotten Tomatoes caught up with the actor. “But ultimately, I feel like he had no other option. I think he was hoping for a reunion and for things to be fixed. Obviously, that’s where you go, family.”

Showrunner Greg Walker told us it was the natural progression from Jason’s split with the team at the end of season 2.

“It made sense to me emotionally,” he said. “The persona of Robin, in that supersuit in that role, is really the thing that saves Jason — and always has — and has kept them off the streets. He’s had a very rough life, and he’s somebody who struggled, so it means a lot to him to be Robin.”

Indeed, in at least in some comic book stories, Batman chose to take Jason in for fear that the kid who tried to steal the hubcaps off the Batmobile would grow to be a foe.

“[Jason] cares a lot about it, and he’s good at it, so it made sense to go back to Bruce,” Walker continued. “It’s one thing to go home, but it’s another thing to actually deal with your troubles and your problems.”

Curran Walters in Titans Season 3 - Episode 1

(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)

Created in 1983 as a permanent replacement for Dick Grayson, who assumed the identity of Nightwing around the same time, Jason was initially well-received. In the reboot aftermath of Crisis on Infinite Earths, though, a bratty streak developed in the character which upset fans of Batman and Detective Comics. Famously, readers voted to end Jason’s life via a 1-800 number in 1988; although some accounts suggest Jason would’ve died no matter the results of the phone poll. Nearly 20 years later, he was revived via absurd comic book means and came to represent a compelling concept: the person Batman failed the most during his crusade against crime. It is an idea Titans intends to play with.

Of course, Jason sees it in a different way as Walters told us “Jason feels like he was ultimately a mistake to Bruce.”

We’d argue the character’s perception is yet another of the Batman’s mistakes.

Brenton Thwaites in Titans, Season 3 - Episode 1

(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)

According to Walker, taking a harder look at Bruce’s (Iain Glen) choices and mistakes is a key element of the show, going back to Dick’s (Brenton Thwaites, pictured) infamous “F— Batman” moment.

“It’s one of the reasons that we see Dick struggling in the pilot, he’s a guy who can’t quite figure out how to deal with this pain and struggle that he has based on the trauma that started off his life with Bruce,” Walker said.

And though that initial trauma was not Batman’s fault, he certainly didn’t help Dick cope with it. So is “failure” a fair appraisal of Bruce’s parenting skills?

“Not necessarily,” said Walters, who indicated Jason’s traumas before meeting Batman are still present and only compound the issues we will see in season 3. “I think [Bruce] parents the way that he knows to parent, which is based on his dealing with trauma. But his way of dealing with trauma is not right for everyone. So therein lays the challenge of his parenting: to see if he can grow and see where his pitfalls and failures are, and understand people in a different light other than through his own prism.”

And Jason’s key decision in season 3 will definitely speak to that. Fans of Batman comics know what comes next for the character, but we’ll leave it as a surprise for new viewers.

Of those upcoming events, though, Walters said “I think that whole story arc was inevitable. It was something you had to do. So, I’m really glad we got to explore that this season. I think his destiny is unavoidable.”

Savannah Welch, Titans, Season 3 - Episode 1

(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)

But Titans is a large ensemble show, and Jason’s story is also an anchor for the rest of the team as they move from San Francisco to Gotham and encounter people like Commissioner Barbara Gordon (Savannah Welch, pictured) – a version inspired by her comic book counterpart’s years as a paraplegic (from 1988 until the universe-wide reboot in 2011) and her role in the Batman Beyond animated series.

“She’s such an interesting character in many ways,” Walker said. “By putting her in a position of conflict rather than on the Titans, [it] made her more an interesting character for us and a stronger character for us.”

He also added that as the show will always pivot around Dick’s choices, Barbara adds a new perspective on him – only Donna Troy (Conor Leslie) knows him better – and that it will lead to an interesting dynamic in its own right.

Ryan Potter in Titans, Season 3 - Episode 1

(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)

The move to Gotham will also put Gar Logan (Ryan Potter) in an interesting position for growth.

“This teen has been through a lot in two seasons, he’s seen a lot, and grown from a guy who was hanging out at a mansion with the Doom Patrol [and had] a sheltered experience,” Walker said. “He’s seen people die, he’s seen trouble. He’s seen a family that he deeply cares about get challenged and tested. So I think it’s a natural outgrowth of where you go as a person or you deal with it like a lot of us deal with trauma — by not dealing with it. But he has stepped up as someone who now will fight for what he cares for.” It is a change in his persona which pleasantly sneaks up on the viewer across the first few episodes.

Damaris Lewis as “Blackfire,” Titans Season 3

(Photo by HBO Max)

It is also a good thing he’s stepping up as the most leader-like member of the team, Kory (Anna Diop, pictured below) will also preoccupied by a family matter: her sister Komand’r (Damaris Lewis, pictured above) – aka Blackfire – has arrived on Earth.

According to Walker, introducing Blackfire serves multiple purposes beyond showcasing Lewis’s talents. The character also offers the show a chance to get into the situation on Kory’s homeworld while remaining on budget-friendly Earth.

“[She] brings back that experience from another planet, which sheds light into Kory’s origin; it was super important for us to tell that story,” he said.

Anna Diop in Titans, Season 3 - Episode 1

(Photo by Ben Mark Holzberg/HBO Max)

In a departure from most of Kory’s comic book adventures, the Titans version arrived on the scene with amnesia and never fully recovered.

“She has to figure out over the course of [these] three seasons what she is, why she was sent on this mission, and what really matters to her,” he explained. But even beyond Kory’s personal journey, Blackfire’s appearance serves another of the show’s themes. “So much about this season, especially after the pandemic and after the way the world was changing, we wanted to address power structures, and the myths behind them, and poke at them.”

It is part of the reason Batman continues to get a critical thrashing within the show and why the GCPD may not be entirely clean even under Barbara’s direction.

“If we’re going to do that to the GCPD and the role of superheroes in Gotham, it had to also be done to the power structure on her home planet [Tamaran],” Walker continued. “How is [Blackfire] in a position of power and how is her sister not? What stories do people tell in order to ensure that they can keep that power?

Titans keyart

(Photo by HBO Max)

As a whole, Titans seems to revel in shattering more innocent, Silver Age conceptions of the Teen Titans with a deeper psychological grounding. Walker credited The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez, with its own well-rounded depictions of characters like Dick and Donna, as the inspiration for Titans’s tendency to delve further into the group’s psychology.

“What I found so striking about reading those books is that the characters are asking hard questions … They weren’t built to sit down and navel gaze, but there was an edge and a probing quality to the writing that we ran with,” he said.

But does it all that probing into the characters mean Jason is doomed? “He does something that is very hard to come back from,” Walters said. “So ultimately, it’s a fight within himself [and] whether the Titans can forgive him or not for what he has done.” Time will tell, of course, if Jason will be able to redeem himself or if another will take flight as Robin.

Titans season 3 launches with its first three episodes on Thursday, August 12, on HBO Max.

On an Apple device? Follow Rotten Tomatoes on Apple News.

Tag Cloud

Discovery Channel SundanceTV ID social media wonder woman Quiz Spectrum Originals green book Lucasfilm 90s south america Heroines BET Awards Hulu Hallmark know your critic documentary Britbox Sneak Peek critic resources Disney Plus Tomatazos TruTV 93rd Oscars Lifetime miniseries Star Wars Food Network television Year in Review Netflix new zealand politics Trophy Talk National Geographic LGBTQ monster movies blockbusters Sundance Now Vudu children's TV Fox News 2020 marvel cinematic universe BET YouTube Red ViacomCBS dc streaming comic kaiju Comedy Central OWN 71st Emmy Awards Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt james bond space Apple TV Plus Thanksgiving Marvel Studios Cosplay boxing game show Teen cars foreign rt labs Premiere Dates 1990s 2015 Hallmark Christmas movies Acorn TV Logo romantic comedy discovery marvel comics hist robots Nominations talk show Pixar Fox Searchlight ESPN Red Carpet suspense aapi book adaptation Disney streaming service cops The CW olympics Ghostbusters nature free movies NBA USA Network renewed TV shows prank Broadway hollywood ITV kong cinemax ABC golden globe awards posters movie Schedule Pop feel good justice league zombies binge adaptation Classic Film movies nfl Captain marvel Disney Channel PaleyFest MCU comic book movie boxoffice Tumblr popular scene in color 20th Century Fox Academy Awards Awards Tour remakes spanish romance ratings Anna Paquin sag awards Universal Western Dark Horse Comics independent Fantasy king kong pirates of the caribbean Ellie Kemper police drama toy story witnail screen actors guild Country Instagram Live Syfy book Mystery Pet Sematary psychological thriller FX spanish language hispanic heritage month Crackle dceu Freeform lord of the rings rom-coms Drama strong female leads Hear Us Out Election chucky Shudder archives APB documentaries asian-american Comedy cancelled TV series 73rd Emmy Awards Disney+ Disney Plus RT History Musicals cancelled TV shows Mudbound 4/20 laika Showtime Elton John The Academy Amazon Prime japanese elevated horror 24 frames comic book movies adenture cults facebook Funimation El Rey Trailer transformers CBS All Access TLC art house crime drama Comic Book Opinion gangster spain hidden camera Countdown series Neflix live action BAFTA Netflix Christmas movies Legendary dreamworks TCA Winter 2020 target Columbia Pictures dramedy MSNBC screenings See It Skip It franchise natural history Emmys Comic-Con@Home 2021 YA Animation Stephen King satire Nat Geo festivals Television Academy Trivia action-comedy aliens Image Comics mission: impossible sitcom TBS scary movies Cannes Apple crossover serial killer scary vampires die hard doctor who italian CNN Box Office what to watch VH1 crime Certified Fresh kids Valentine's Day 2018 PBS Crunchyroll mutant golden globes quibi Tarantino french History animated thriller E3 anime king arthur dogs Turner DC Comics sports sopranos PlayStation Disney royal family OneApp Exclusive Video docudrama parents Paramount Universal Pictures Esquire Binge Guide sequels Nickelodeon Black History Month Christmas Pacific Islander Winter TV VICE new york video The Witch disaster TCA The Walking Dead comics stoner twilight 21st Century Fox supernatural 2021 TV movies Mindy Kaling biopic Marvel composers Sony Pictures Endgame award winner scorecard technology 2016 Masterpiece CMT war Baby Yoda ABC Family true crime halloween tv Film streaming movies heist movie fast and furious cancelled Musical batman Film Festival GoT razzies criterion Epix YouTube Action Sundance Comics on TV A24 CBS christmas movies teaser based on movie Paramount Plus worst IFC Films Apple TV+ Superheroes trailers science fiction Rock TCA Awards dark indie canceled TV shows Set visit 007 hispanic VOD DirecTV Emmy Nominations Video Games Pride Month black mob genre MTV Holidays docuseries Adult Swim SDCC black comedy Travel Channel Alien President joker comedies TV renewals USA Best and Worst WGN Extras BBC America richard e. Grant young adult Starz Women's History Month Arrowverse theme song singing competition superman Holiday comiccon emmy awards versus Turner Classic Movies Amazon Studios films Lionsgate football Pirates godzilla blaxploitation political drama Reality Competition Toys venice First Reviews medical drama biography canceled SXSW worst movies Sci-Fi The Arrangement Chilling Adventures of Sabrina HBO women Song of Ice and Fire Peacock IFC Paramount Network 2019 legend Chernobyl TIFF Black Mirror TCM The Walt Disney Company American Society of Cinematographers sequel festival period drama anthology FX on Hulu basketball TCA 2017 Mary poppins DC streaming service mockumentary casting jamie lee curtis saw The Purge NBC Oscars Infographic obituary werewolf Polls and Games concert debate child's play TV revenge halloween cancelled television international blockbuster RT21 breaking bad New York Comic Con Spring TV spider-man Mary Tyler Moore japan spy thriller reboot spinoff nbcuniversal psycho HBO Go all-time vs. AMC Summer Calendar 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards ABC Signature tv talk BBC One indiana jones stand-up comedy Marathons Interview cats Writers Guild of America Brie Larson Walt Disney Pictures rt labs critics edition cartoon Marvel Television Bravo FOX Awards historical drama Grammys ghosts name the review FXX Rocky crime thriller Kids & Family WarnerMedia LGBT slasher Star Trek Martial Arts Spike HBO Max Rom-Com Lifetime Christmas movies toronto Winners Music cooking deadpool E! harry potter Tokyo Olympics Cartoon Network classics reviews X-Men best Warner Bros. Character Guide 72 Emmy Awards Wes Anderson critics high school zombie a nightmare on elm street Tubi San Diego Comic-Con DC Universe Creative Arts Emmys comic books jurassic park Superheroe Biopics A&E Avengers TV Land rt archives diversity CW Seed Ovation Amazon GIFs Rocketman 99% Amazon Prime Video superhero Sundance TV zero dark thirty BBC adventure DGA mcc directors latino fresh TV One Watching Series dexter Podcast rotten movies we love finale stop motion rotten 45 live event Super Bowl Photos NYCC GLAAD video on demand travel Pop TV new star wars movies Family slashers news Mary Poppins Returns universal monsters Reality spider-verse AMC Plus Horror dragons Shondaland unscripted telelvision Television Critics Association australia YouTube Premium First Look Fall TV IMDb TV game of thrones 2017 TNT