Hollywood! Adapt This: TEEN TITANS

     April 20, 2014


DC Comics’ television properties that skew towards a younger demographic have done quite well over the years.  Smallville enjoyed a decade on the air before passing the baton to the the relatively new series Arrow.  Spinning off of that show’s success, The CW is also bringing a new series based on The Flash to TV screens later this year.  Gotham will be debuting on the small screen this year as well, though it will be centered on James Gordon rather than Bruce Wayne/Batman.  While solid writing, proper casting, and high-quality production values are clearly the foundations to the success of these properties, targeting a younger market has certainly helped.  That’s why today’s adaptation suggestion feels tailor-made for today’s TV audiences.  Hit the jump for more.  Hollywood!  Adapt this: Teen Titans.

teen-titans-comicWhat It’s About: 

Starting in a 1964 issue of “The Brave and the Bold,” the Teen Titans unofficially began as a junior Justice League, being composed of Batman, Aquaman, and Flash’s sidekicks, Dick Grayson’s Robin, Aqualad, and Kid Flash, respectively.  Six issues of that series later, the team made its official Teen Titans debut, adding Wonder Woman’s younger sister Wonder Girl to the ranks.  Green Arrow’s sidekick Speedy later replaced Aqualad; this swapping out of team members would later become a rather common occurrence and one that could aid a television adaptation rather than hinder it.

The team was essentially a younger version of the Justice League, battling supervillains (and originally Greek Titans) on a daily basis and then reconvening in their variously located Titans Tower. The series didn’t find its footing until a 1980s run by writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Pérez who launched The New Teen Titans composed of the young adults Robin, Wonder Girl, Kid Flash, Cyborg, Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy/Changeling.  The series ebbed and flowed over the years, relaunching in the mid-90s and early-2000s, and, most recently, in DC’s New 52 overhaul.  The most recognizable adaptation of the comics line to date is probably the Cartoon Network series, Teen Titans, which ran from 2003 to 2006.  Now’s a good a time as any to bring it back.

How Could / Why Should It Be Adapted? 

As I mentioned above, Teen Titans found an audience in animated form, but with the recent success of Arrow and the plan of TV studios to push forward with future comic book adaptations, this is one property that bears watching.  Perhaps the New 52 version should serve as the source of inspiration for a live-action retelling, one that features the teenaged superheroes “Red Robin, Kid Flash, Superboy, Wonder Girl, Solstice, and two new characters; Skitter, formerly known as ‘Bugg’, an African-American girl with insect-themed powers and Bunker, a Mexican teenager named Miguel Barragan who can create force fields.” (Via Wikipedia) That’s a lot of power to put on screen for a show that’s likely to be set in the “gritty and realistic” tone of today’s adaptations, but we’ve already seen Superman do his thing in a solo coming-of-age story, so why not take the heroes out of the vacuum and let them survive super-powered adolescence together?

teen-titans-the-new-52The New 52 version also aims to include more diversity of heroes: Wonder Girl, Solstice and Skitter are all female, with Solstice being of Indian descent and Skitter being an Africa-American; and Bunker, who just so happens to be gay.  (Kind of sounds like a CW series cast already, doesn’t it?)  Also in vogue these days are organizations with acronyms for names.  Coincidentally, the New 52 version of Teen Titans took on the villainous N.O.W.H.E.R.E., an org that seeks to control Earth’s powerful metahumans.  The series also opens up in an interesting manner in that it doesn’t start with all the heroes united against a common threat.  Instead, they’re all rather ignorant of each other, and only cross paths due to the machinations of N.O.W.H.E.R.E. That take on the origin story of the team would make for some good dramatic television as the heroes attempt to overcome their differences (which include a few fights between the heroes themselves) in order to become greater than the sum of their individual abilities.

The Final Word:

Whether the New 52 version of the Teen Titans is the one you prefer or not, it’s clear that there’s some real potential for this younger version of superheroes to take to the small screen.  Justice League is taking its sweet time coming to theatrical audiences while television heroes continue to carve out their own niches.  With Arrow and The Flash already taking care of the relatively young versions of those characters, Teen Titans could serve as both a series for original characters, crossovers, and even future swap-outs.  It’s the team that’s important in this case, and as much fun as it is to see your favorite heroes on screen, it’s even more entertaining to occasionally introduce new players to mix it up.  It might even be the best opportunity to introduce audiences to heroes that have had a tough time making the leap across media, ie Wonder Girl/Woman, Robin, and Aquaman/lad.

Be sure to let us know your thoughts on a Teen Titans adaptation in the comments below, and come back next weekend for an all-new installment of Hollywood! Adapt This!

teen titans new 52