We’re less that 24 hours away from the return of DC’s Titans. Tomorrow the series returns to HBO Max with not one but two brand new episodes. Over the course of the next five weeks, Titans will roll out the first six episodes of its excellent fourth season.
Ahead of the season premiere, Will G. sat down with series’ showrunner Greg Walker to preview the journey ahead for Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) and the rest of the team. Check out their full chat right here…
Will G. : Season 3’s ending had the Titans setting off on the road together in an RV and riding off into the sunset. My initial thought after watching the scene was: how perfect would it be to use this and bring back that road-show feel season 1 had. It would really motivate those character dynamics and bonds to become more apparent, meaning our characters would feel much closer than they have. Would you say that the group feels closer, more tight-knit, more like a family?
Greg W: For sure. Those are really keen observations. [Last season] was about the Titans battling the demons of Gotham. But you can’t get around Dick’s relationship with Bruce and Jason’s relationship with Bruce. It was the kind of invisible Batman season, and everything was drawn towards that. For better or worse, it felt like we had to do that to get to the next stage of development for the characters. So this season was allowing them just the fun of the road trip, first of all. We really love the season 1 road trip, even though it’s hell on the crew to do that, especially in the winter… Season 1 was especially brutal. We built the RV set for just that reason, so we wouldn’t be out as much. But we did really want to focus on relationships, the top of which was Dick and Kory. We really wanted to internalise those relationships and make it the Titans story… the fans were telling us that’s what they loved (and wanted), and it’s what we loved as well, so it’s one of the things we wanted to focus on.
WG: So, a little more into that – could you talk about some of the newer dynamics within our family of Titans that fans can look forward to, and why they worked so well?
GW: These actors have known each other for a long time, so they are family themselves. They have strong feelings for each other and they like acting together. So you notice that being on set. You notice where the affinities are and who’s really good together and you start to really compose to those instruments. Obviously you have Dick and Kory as the parents of this team on the road trip, really getting closer and trying to figure out, are they destined to be together? And everyone else! Are you destined to be a Titan? That’s Tim’s story. Are you destined to be Lex or Superman? And that’s the Conner story. And then you can work your way down with every new story… everybody’s kind of working out what they’re meant to be doing, and find meaning in their life… That’s being played out in a family context. Both good, in terms of support, and bad, in terms of conflict.
WG: One of the most exciting character dynamics that I’m personally looking forward to is that of Dick Grayson and Tim Drake. What does this season entail for the two of them? Do they grow close, become more brother-like?
GW: Well, training is a loose term, right? Season 1 and 2 we took it literally… actually how do you use a bo-staff or how do you kick somebody in the head if you’re Jason Todd. And there is some of that, but there’s also the larger training of understanding what it means to be a Titan; what it means to fight bad guys; and how that works in terms of the toll on your soul and also in the context of a family. Dick, this season, is more of a leader to everyone. We don’t have conflicts, with a few exceptions, over his leadership. There’s a quiet confidence about him this season… He has a caring concern for his family, and Tim is one he’s especially careful with because he’s more vulnerable. Newer guy, less experienced. You’re gonna see him show that paternal side.
WG: Many suspect season 4 will explore Tim’s sexuality To what extent is are you exploring that side of his personality this year? Do you really dig into that part of him?
GW: It is explored. The genesis of it was that it came out in the books, and Jay responded positively to that, both online and in-person. We had a conversation about how that would look and play out and that became a part of his story this season. A part that I’m really excited about people seeing.
WG: On the topic of romance, it has to be brought up: Dick and Kory. Brenton has already talked about their romance resurfacing, and feelings being confessessed. Narratively speaking, why was season 4 the right season for Dick and Kory to pick things up again?
GW: For sure, he did, but in a different context. That was an invitation I suspect he knew she would never take, given her responsibility and commitment to Gotham. It wasn’t disingenuous, but I don’t think it’s something he (Dick) really thought she (Barbara) would take up on. I think they knew that moment of romance had passed, that the sun had set on that, and it evolved into a deeper friendship.
Kory and Dick working together, finding a rhythm together… I feel like this season is much less about Dick Grayson being the sole leader of the team, but Dick and Kory working problems out together. There’s a generosity and an affinity that they have for each other… It’s going to be gradual, because any real relationship is. They tried it once in season 1, right? They don’t want to make the same mistakes twice.
It was always my plan to have them be endgame for each other, or rather the writers’ room plan. How we got there, and when we felt that it was earned and we could focus on it, and not just have it be a throw-off… That’s the risk! When you put them in a relationship then they’re in a relationship! It is a big, scene-eating monster when couples are in relationships and you don’t want to domesticate them because then it becomes really boring. By that I mean you don’t want to just put them in a prosaic relationship, or the opposite where you don’t want the story to become the ‘Dick and Kory are struggling in their marriage’ show either. We had a lot of balancing to do in terms of how we could lay out those points and stories to a point where it felt natural. Getting on the road trip, taking ownership of this family, moving past the ghost of Bruce. All that stuff felt like the right time for Dick to be in a relationship that wasn’t going to be burdened by his past and for Kory, trying to figure out her destiny and why on earth, in the bigger picture and the universe, all of this happened. Why did I end up here? Why did I end up with these people? What is this about? And tapping into a deeper mystery, so it seemed like the right time for that.
WG: Last season, there were some big changes for Kory. Starfire has had various starbolt colours across DC media, ranging from orange to pink to green. Last season, however, Kory discovered new powers that manifest as blue energy. Can we expect her powers to continue to develop, and maybe even change in the coming season?
GW: She has a huge story this season, in terms of her destiny, and her powers are part of that. But I think we were reaching for something that felt more interesting, though there are people in the writers’ room who fought to the nail to make starbolt and colours into its own story. So, there is that part of it. But the mystery of what the blue power is about, and what it means, is answered over the course of the season. And why it’s there, really.
WG: This season seems to be the biggest yet for Garfield Logan, AKA Beast Boy, which a lot of fans are happy about. Many would say a projection on his character is long overdue. Can you talk a little bit about what Gar is going through in season 4, and how it might change him?
GW: It’s a season of destiny and I keep on repeating that because it applies to every character. Why was Gar originally with the Doom Patrol? The circumstances that brought him to that, that allowed him to meet the Titans and go off on his own journey with them, all are a part of a larger journey that he may not be in control of. It may be a destiny that he’s trying to figure out if he’s willing to embrace. It’s one of the odder and more mysterious journeys a Titans character could take, and I’m super excited about it. I’ve just seen the episode that he (Ryan) wrote with Geoff Johns that addresses a lot of this. Yeah, it’s extraordinary… It’s not a typical Titans episode, in the best sense. So really for Gar it’s about are you going to embrace what seemed to be a series of random events… which can actually be put together and be seen as a path towards something greater.
WG: This season seems to project quite a lot of narrative focus on Conner Kent. You recently talked about how we’re leaning more into the Lex side of Conner in season 4, and the trailer cemented that. Conner being locked up, Dick begging him to stay with the Titans etc. What can you say about Conner’s journey this season? Is it a path of self-discovery; a journey of which he finally, conclusively has to confront his two halves and become individual?
GW: I’m a big believer in opposites ruling the universe, and so in an ideal situation we find balance between them. In the case of Conner, this is someone who’s really struggling with his opposites and that darker side is very enticing. It’s voice becomes very loud in his head and drives him towards a course of action. And it’s not always bad, that darker side. There is genius in there. There is cunning acumen, and an ability to see things the way most people can’t. How you move through that, and use that for good is something that Conner has to try and figure out. He will fail along the way.
WG: Joseph Morgan’s Brother Blood is one of the fans’ most anticipated characters of the new season. Having seen the first three episodes and already gotten a taste of his character, I want to ask: were you always set on adapting Brother Blood as an origin story, as opposed to having him be a villain from the start? Why did this feel like the right direction to take?
GW: Looking at the Church of Blood and a story about a cult and cult leaders we’re saturated with stories about cult leaders nowadays and they’re pretty horrible people and they do mean things. They’re rarely stories that I find particularly redemptive. So having him just emerge from the underworld and pop up didn’t tell me anything as a writer about him. I was more curious about him. How do you become that? We were curious about how you become someone like that, and how the ego swells. The chance to have thousands if not millions of people, if not the entire universe, revere you, to bow down in your presence. What that does to a mortal, especially a mortal who’s felt unseen. This is a story about so many unseen people who feel unheard. When you find out that actually your destiny is for something far greater and bigger, how do you handle that? It’s a lot to handle. That is a stiff cocktail! It hits hard and fast. So I thought, wow, it would be interesting to play that story. We had fun with it, and Joseph of course ate it up. It gives him a story, as opposed to just being a villain who just prances about the world… Even May Bennett (Mother Mayhem) gets an origin story. I mean, even Krypto will get an origin story if we keep running!
WG: In recent interviews, Joseph Morgan teased Sebastian having a special connection with one of the Titans, and many speculate this could be Rachel, as she’s the only Titan linked to the world of magic. So, can you talk a little bit about Sebastian’s connection with said Titan, what it may mean for both parties, and what it could lead to?
GW: Well, that speculation is correct… in someone (Sebastian) who is hellbent on a divine destiny, acting as a god, it represents a real problem for him, because he has human feelings for her (Rachel). Sibling feelings, and that is a nagging part of him and his achilles heel for a good portion of the season.
In case you missed it, here’s the trailer for Titans season 4:
Season four stars Brenton Thwaites, Anna Diop, Teagan Croft, Ryan Potter, Joshua Orpin, Franka Potente, and Joseph Morgan, with Jay Lycurgo and Lisa Ambalavanar recurring.
Titans is produced by Weed Road Pictures and Berlanti Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television and is based on the characters from DC. Greg Walker is the showrunner and serves as executive producer alongside Akiva Goldsman, Geoff Johns, Greg Berlanti, Sarah Schechter and Richard Hatem.
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