DC’s Titans are a major disadvantage for Dick Grayson’s Nightwing

The following contains spoilers for Titans Season 4 Episode 3 “Jinx” streaming now on HBO Max.

Titans has been a somewhat controversial series since its inception, particularly in relation to certain characters. Essentially a larger-budget Arrowverse series, its fidelity to the source material has often been dubious at best. Unfortunately, there is no greater victim of this problem than team leader Dick Grayson.


Brenton Thwaites’ Dick Grayson, who switches from Robin to Nightwing in the series, is played quite well. Unfortunately, every other aspect of him is largely unrecognizable, from his temperament and demeanor to his poor leadership skills. Compared to the comics, he’s essentially just Dick Grayson, and the issue didn’t really resolve itself in the show’s fourth season.

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Titans’ Dick Grayson is a bumbling failure of a leader

Titan's Nightwing

Titans first garnered attention for addressing Dick’s notorious use of expletives regarding his feelings for Batman, and it has solidified the show’s overall tone and use of iconic characters. F-bombs fly freely from the mouths of much sunnier characters, and it all feels a bit forced. This is particularly true of Thwaites’ Robin, who was the first live-action capture of the character since Chris O’Donnel was in the film Batman forever and Batman & Robin. Hence the general feeling seemed to be to make him as “mature” as possible to get away from the character’s campy connotations. Combined with his hotter temper and use of deadlier actions, Dick brought Jason Todd that much closer.

When Jason was finally introduced himself, he had to be made goofy boisterous for his character to stand out. In that sense, Dick is a pretty terrible leader of the titans whose plans constantly backfire and endanger humans. An example was his use of Joseph Wilson against his villainous father, Deathstroke, only killing the boy. He’s now bringing Tim Drake into the show’s fourth season as the new Robin, though he just said the untrained Tim was a titan for only five minutes. None of his plans seem to be working out, which doesn’t bring the comics’ cool-headed leader to the big screen.

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Dick Grayson in Teen Titans comics was a much better, far kinder leader

Robin leads The New Teen Titans in DC Comics.

Namely in the original comics The new teen titans by Marv Wolfman and George PĂ©rez, Dick Grayson is the heart and soul of the Teen Titans team. Using the tactics and calm planning taught to him by Batman, Robin/Nightwing is usually the one to come in after others have been blown out of control or otherwise defeated. Examples include him becoming Nightwing and staying behind after Deathstroke defeats the other Titans. This is in contrast to his actions on the show Titans, which usually got his team in trouble instead of getting them out. Likewise, his friendliness and brotherly nature are much stronger, making his relationship with the team feel much more like family.

For example, the iconic storyline “Who Is Donna Troy?” was not a superhero story but a mystery that Dick volunteered to uncover the truth behind Donna Troy’s lost childhood. This was a gift for soon-to-be-married Donna, who realized how much she loved Grayson and valued their friendship. He is also protective of younger heroes, especially after something happens to them. After the death of Jason Todd in the comics, Dick tricks young titan Danny Chase into leaving the team for his own safety. On Titans, though he now downright encourages the unskilled Tim Drake to become Robin, despite Jason’s earlier death. Dick Grayson is also an incredibly trusting young man, even with the most unlikely of people. This makes his relationship with Superboy pretty harrowing in previous seasons.

Given that the series is likely heading towards its final season, that’s unlikely Titans ever have the time to really do Dick Grayson justice. His relationship with Batman and his friends is just too far removed from the lovable acrobat that fans know and love. That makes Thwaites – who is actually superb in the role – an ultimately wasted actor who was prevented by poor writing from bringing to life the Nightwing fans they deserve.

Titans debuts new episodes on HBO Max on Thursdays.

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