Titans Season 3 is finally arriving after a period of delay due to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Originally slated to premiere in late 2020, production for the DC Comics superhero show had to be pushed back to 2021. It will also be moving to a new home, with the DC Universe service being folded into the HBO Max streaming platform. With the release of the brand new trailer, fans get a glimpse of the changes that will alter the status quo of the team of young superheroes, particularly Jason Todd aka Robin, as well as this world’s Bruce Wayne/Batman.
Read on and find out everything we know so far about Titans Season 3.
A Death in the Family
As the trailer revealed, Titans Season 3 will be exploring elements from the infamous Batman: A Death in the Family storyline from the Batman comics in 1988. For those unfamiliar with the comics, the story of A Death in the Family ran from Batman issues 426 to 429 which dealt with the murder of Jason Todd at the hands of the Joker. The story was infamous for two things: it was a storyline that relied on fan votes (with a special phone number that fans could call to vote for the fate of Jason Todd) and it was another example of the “grim and gritty” theme that gained prominence in that era of comic books.
Jason Todd replaced the original Robin, Dick Grayson, after the latter had a falling out with Batman. Grayson gave up the Robin mantle to become his own man and with a new superhero identity called Nightwing. For a brief period, Batman operated alone until he encountered the young orphan Jason Todd. Created by Gerry Conway and Don Newton, Jason Todd originally had a similar background to Grayson, being the child of circus performers. However, Jason would later be changed to a petty thief growing up in the seedier parts of Gotham City. Adopting the youth, Bruce eventually trained him to become the new Robin.
The fans, however, did not warm up to Jason Todd, particularly after the Crisis on Infinite Earths revised Todd to have a more acerbic and overconfident attitude. And by a very small margin, the fans who voted to kill off Jason won. Thus, it came to pass that Robin would die, beaten with a crowbar by the Joker and then blown up, just in time for Batman to arrive and see the explosion. Batman would spiral down into a more aggressive and violent form of vigilantism before intervention by Nightwing and Tim Drake, the next Robin, helped the Dark Knight get on the path of recovery.
However, the story would not end there. A later retcon would reveal that Jason’s body was recovered by the League of Assassins and bathed in the resurrecting pools of the Lazarus Pit. But because of complications, Jason’s mind was shattered and he was driven insane. After recovering and being trained further in the deadliest forms of combat, he re-emerged as the Red Hood with the desire to punish Batman for letting him die. Jason would then reconcile with his adoptive father and become a valued ally once again, growing into an anti-hero that takes a far more brutal approach in fighting crime than his mentor.
Death in the Titans
For the Titans live action series, there are some changes and liberties taken with using the source material. For one, Bruce Wayne is portrayed as a much older man before taking Jason Todd under his wing to become the new Robin after Dick Grayson takes off on his own as well as with the Titans.
In the course of the first two seasons of the show, Jason Todd (played by Curran Walters) is sent by Bruce Wayne (Iain Glen) to join the Titans and learn from his predecessor, Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites). Although he plays a key role in the team, Todd proves to be just as hot-headed and impulsive as his comic book counterpart which gets him into trouble, most recently by being used as a hostage by the master assassin Deathstroke (Esai Morales).
Based on the Season 3 trailer of Titans, there are several key differences compared to the comic story A Death in the Family. Among them:
- The location will be in Gotham. Jason’s death in the comic book occurred in a foreign country, as it was during a scheme with the Joker selling a nuclear weapon to terrorists that Batman and Robin were trying to stop. It also appears that the sole method of Jason’s execution is with the Joker’s crowbar, without the additional use of explosives.
- Batman will retire following the death of Jason. In the comics, Batman instead took a more nihilistic approach to fighting crime, beating criminals to an inch of their lives instead of just capturing them.
- Barbara Gordon will be involved. Barbara (aka Batgirl) was absent during the comic book storyline, as she was also a victim of the Joker’s attempt at her life from a separate story (Batman: The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland). In Titans Season 3, Barbara (played by Savannah Welch) is active. Moreover, this version of Barbara Gordon is the commissioner of the Gotham Police Department and is instead missing a leg (whereas the comic version had her paralyzed by the Joker’s gunshot that injured her spine).
- Jason will return sooner as the Red Hood. This is understandable, as the original storyarc from the comics took many years and several retcons. It also appears Jason’s grudge will extend not just on Bruce/Batman but also with his former Titans allies.
- Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo) will be introduced, but how he will be involved is unclear. In the comics, Drake had deduced Bruce Wayne was Batman and sought to help the crimefighter realize he was becoming as bad as the criminals he hunts.
- Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow (Vincent Kartheiser) will have a hand at the circumstances that leads to Jason’s return as the Red Hood.
Other plot threads
Furthermore, because the Titans show has an ensemble cast, the entire Red Hood saga will run concurrent with other adventures and personal issues, notably the threat of Starfire’s (Anna Diop) Tamaranian sister, Blackfire (Damaris Lewis), the growing dark powers inherited from Trigon by the young Raven (Teagan Croft), Conner/Superboy (Joshua Orpin) struggling with his dual heritage of being Superman and Lex Luthor's clone, and the rift between Hank Hall/Hawk and Dawn Granger/Dove (Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly, respectively).
But will Jason rejoin his Titans compatriots in Season 3 or simply be an overarching antagonist? With Batman choosing to retire, will Dick Grayson choose to take the mantle of the Bat? It is not unheard of, as Grayson has done so at least twice in the comics, during times when Bruce is incapacitated or absent for an extended period.
Titans Season 3 will stream weekly episodes on HBO Max beginning August 12, 2021.