DC Universe's flaghip show Titans returns this Friday for a second season, and according to showrunner Greg Walker this season is about "family" - and that family is growing.
After the introduction last seasno of Dick Grayson, Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy, Donna Troy, Hawk, and Dove, Titans' second season will introduce Conner Kent, Aqualad, Trigon, Deathstroke, Rose Wilson, and Jericho.
(Ok, maybe they're not one 'big happy family' - but they're family, in more ways than one.)
Walker spoke with Newsarama ahead of the new season's debut, and stressed how "sins of the past" will come back to haunt these families intertwined within Titans - and also reveal some stars of the future he'd like to have in for future episodes and seasons.
Newsarama: Greg, how do you feel this new season of Titans differs from the first?
Greg Walker: Good question. We’re not a road show - we find a home in episode 1. We re-open the Titans Tower in San Francisco. It was open five years before. It’s a historic base for the Titans in the books. We start there.
I also think that it's more about family this year and less about individuals and about the sense of the past. Last year was about a coming together of family and this year is about how you hold it together. Keep it from falling apart.
Nrama: There’s been many iterations of Deathsroke over the past years between TV, film, and animation. How does Titans' Deathstroke, played by Esai Morales, stand out from those who came before?
Walker: People bring to Deathstroke what they want to bring to Deathstoke a lot of times. He becomes the kind of holder of, what people love about Deathstroke. For us, because we want to always be a psychologically and emotionally grounded superhero show, it was important for us to explore Deathstroke through the prison of his relationships. Primarily through Rose, Jericho or Joey, and his wife. So that's what's different.
The theme of sins of the past rings true for Deathstroke and hardcore fans of Deathstroke will know what I mean by that. It becomes a theme that allows us to tell stories about Deathstroke that I feel like hasn’t been told a lot in the past.
Nrama: I love that you are introducing his kids to the story. Tell us a bit about the Wilson family dynamic.
Walker: Well, you know, they have different mothers. So Rose – it’s Joey in the books, but we just call him Jericho because we just like the name better for the show. They did not grow up knowing each other, but through circumstances and fait on Titans, they're brought together. Our story was kind of on two time planes this year - the present day and five years ago. The Jericho story primarily exists in the 'five year ago' period and that connects very much to Deathstroke for his story as well. How did Slade Wilson become Deathstroke?
Nrama: We’ve seen a few Bat family members already with Dick, of course, Jason, and Batman. Any plans for more Bat family members to come into the fold. Maybe Barbara?
Walker: Well, we are trying all the time, that's all I can say. There's conversations and efforts all the time to pull in that universe just because I feel like through our lens we get to show the characters in ways that haven't been totally overdone yet – to me it's exciting.
We haven't got the big approval yet, but we're always throwing out different names to try to get the permission from the people. I literally am looking at their gleaning tower across the street from us, the DC tower. Not too dissimilar from the Titans Tower and hoping that they'll one day give us the big go on a few of them. I can’t tease yet, but there are a couple we'd be excited to have.
Nrama: Batman will be more than a figure this season. How will Dick and Bruce’s relationship play out?
Walker: Our line is always that Bruce Wayne has been awesome at being Batman, but he's been pretty horrible at being Bruce Wayne.
This season is about an older man trying to repair his broken relationships, primarily the broken relationship with Dick and how to evolve it from this kind of tormented father, son relationship into a more evolved, connected peer relationship and the struggles they have to get there.
Nrama: Let's talk about Donna Troy. What leads her to getting back into the superhero game?
Walker: Without giving too much, the circumstances at the beginning of episode two drives the team, who have agreed to separate and to go their own ways for their own reasons, for their own personal needs, force the Titans back together reluctantly.
Nrama: What can you tease about Trigon and Raven’s interaction this season?
Walker: For Rachel, it’s important for her to see herself as something separate from Trigon’s large domination plan. By individuating, she frees herself from his grip but creates new problems for herself - with great power comes great trouble.
Nrama: Is Trigon the Big Bad of this season?
Walker: Trigon is not the Big Bad. He's a little bad. He's around, but I don't want to false advertise. We'd love what we can get out of Trigon, and if you love him make sure you watch the first episode.
Nrama: If not Trigon, then who would you say is this season's Big Bad?
Walker: Deathstoke is a big factor in our story in terms of what happened in the past with Titans and what's happening in the future with him and the relationship the Titans have with Joey and Rose.
Nrama: What made you want to introduce Superboy and Aqualad this season? What can we expect from their characters?
Walker: Because I wanted to make my life super complicated and add too many characters. [Laughs]
It was really what we didn't realize until we looked up how many people we had. Because we were so excited to grab all of them, we ended up adding some of them again because we’re doing two different time periods five years ago and today.
There’s no scene were 14 people are sitting in a room together arguing over Domino's pizza.
We moved the stories around in such a way that you don't have a bunch of people together. It’s also what became a challenge, but what was a challenge became a really fun, creative opportunity. You get to see people you haven't seen before. You get to see Hawk and Jason Todd; you get to see Rachel with Rose; you get to open up and play with many different relationships and that’s been fun.
Nrama: Speaking of Hawk and Dove, what can you tell us about their dynamic going forward?
Walker: They’ve always had the escape fantasy of moving to a ranch somewhere so they can both get better and the challenges they're going to have is the balance between wanting to have a full personal life and the call of duty of being a hero and the conflict they have with that.
Nrama: One thing I love about this show is that you pull from different generations of the Teen Titans teams. Will we see a young generation of Titans as well? We already have Superboy. Is Cassie or Tim next?
Walker: Next season, anything is possible. I like the idea of every season having a different generation of Titans coming in and the challenge that come from that. So that's definitely the direction we're going with what we set up now with San Francisco and the Titans Tower. Geoff Johns is a genius and finding who we can use and what that mix is going to be like. Like a sports team, we’re figuring out what the starting line-up is right now for next season.
Nrama: Last question then... for this season, how do the new team members intertwine with the old?
Walker: You have a generational rift. All I can say is this, is the sins of the past is a major theme and there's something unexplored in the Titans past that comes to haunt the new Titans.