Comments on a cultural reality between past and future.

This blog describes Metatime in the Posthuman experience, drawn from Sir Isaac Newton's secret work on the future end of times, a tract in which he described Histories of Things to Come. His hidden papers on the occult were auctioned to two private buyers in 1936 at Sotheby's, but were not available for public research until the 1990s.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Titans Dream Cast

It's weird when the publishers of a fictional universe erase a whole era.  This is what DC is doing with the whole Titans comics continuity. Ironically, the New Teen Titans graphic novel Games is coming out this fall.  Originally conceived by Marv Wolfman and George Perez and set in late 1980s' continuity, Games has been delayed for over twenty years. Yet it arrives just as these stories and characters are about to be completely retconned. 

The Games graphic novel finally revisits the heyday of Titans in the 1980s, right at the point when you would expect its revival. Instead, we are seeing an erasure.  For a giant sleeping Gen X fanbase, these comic book superheroes were DC's answer to Marvel's X-men, and Games should awake teen memories. It may get old fans interested in the characters again, even though the classic Titans are being rammed through and obliterated in the DCnU reboots.  DC has shown little interest in rediscovering what made this title great, reviving its superteen soap opera formula that merged so well with sci-fi, space epics, and magical themes.  DC also doesn't seem interested in returning to complex story-telling and characterization that made the Titans title famous.  As one fan on the DC boards remarked:
Funny, I was just reading Jim Shooter's blog (E[ditor] I[n] C[hief] at Marvel from 1978 - late 80's (I think)). Someone had posted something in the comments that reminded me of the current DC way of thinking:

"Steve Englehart has said on his website that around 1990 or so, Marvel editorial decreed that character development should basically stop, since the characters had evolved "too far from their roots."

And I think Marvel went bankrupt in the mid 90's.

Let's see if DC can do better with their version of this idea.
Now that Games will soon be published, the live action Titans movie that Warner is not making is next up.  If they ever do turn to the project, would they consider the Judas Contract for the screenplay?  Or the Terror of Trigon?  Other big storylines are the team's first trip to Tamaran, Titans Hunt, or a Brother Blood film. Below the jump, a post that shows the Titans a little love.  This is my favourite possible cast for a Titans film.  There are other suggestions out there (here, here, here, here, here and here), some of which I've drawn from for this post.

Robin/Nightwing/Dick Grayson

Casting the first Robin and the original Titan is the most difficult task of all. Dick is of Romani origin, and he should look very intelligent and like a born athlete. He's breathtakingly drop dead gorgeous.

Of all the dark-haired actors I've seen suggested, the one whose features 'pop' the way Dick's should, while not allowing him to be just a pretty boy, is Scott Elrod. Dick's good looks ought to be secondary, even when all the ladies around him (except Donna) can't stop staring. One thing that opens up the character and gets him out from under Batman's shadow is his intense relationship with the bombshell alien princess, Starfire.

He's a driven, intense character, a detective, trained by Batman, but very human. In the early NTT, he is a bit of a repressed, nerdy workaholic who grows into a sexy, handsome workaholic. Aside from Roy Harper, he's the only character without any superpowers. But he's the unchallenged leader of immensely powerful superhumans, despite the fact that he makes big mistakes and begins to crack under the pressure. The actor has to project decisiveness and confidence, even when he's unsure of himself.

Scott Elrod as Dick Grayson.

British actor Henry Cavill might play Grayson, but he has already been cast as Superman.

Another suggestion for Dick:

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Steven Strait as Dick Grayson. Image Source: Fansshare.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Nightwing. Image Source: Youtube.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Robert Gorrie as Dick.

Wondergirl/Troia/Donna Troy

Some fans see Donna Troy as the girl-next-door superheroine; she's an all-American version of her sometime sister and mentor, Wonder Woman. But Donna's deeper origins point to her being a foundling who was adopted as an Amazonian princess.  Or Donna might be a Greek goddess-in-waiting. Thus, for this role, I prefer Jessica Lowndes. She has something eternal and refined about her that is closer to an Amazonian or classical derivation.

Jessica Lowndes as Donna Troy.

At the same time, Donna is supposed to be driven, a perfectionist, and above all - nice. Nice, nice, nice. Nice! Everyone should love her. She's the heart of the group. She is so loving that even the most alienated characters would not resent her popularity. She's beautiful and well-heeled. She can be sexy but pure sexuality is not the first thing that comes to mind. George Perez once remarked that of all the characters in this line-up, Donna would be the one he would most like to know in real life. Wolfman originally suggested Marie Osmond as a model for Donna, which Perez took as a foundation, and then made her features longer.

Donna is a loving confidante. She is also a trained, dedicated fighter. But Donna's lack of clear origin means the actress cast in this role has to be able to play the character's well-honed exterior over an emptiness, an uncertainty behind striking, beautiful and friendly features. Donna is a powerful, generous, noble and substantial heroine, undeniably herself, with a clear personality and enormous physical power. But she has a question mark behind all that. Sometimes, her niceness slips and she can be nervy, judgmental and critical. Otherwise, she is basically a sane and stable character. A commenter at ComicBook.com: "Can't have the Titans with the True Soul of the Titans sorry that is not Victor Stone. Its Donna Troy."

Katy Perry.

Here's Katy Perry (above) wearing something similar to Donna's costume and looking pretty convincing in it. An all-American version of Donna would be well-reflected in Taylor Cole's classic beauty.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Jessica Stroup as Donna.

Food for thought: Eve Hewson shows Donna Troy's hidden depths.

Kid Flash/Wally West

Unlike his glamorous and usually wealthy or royal teammates, Wally is middle class, from the Midwest, the heartland of the United States.  In his period with the NTT, he is reserved in a way that matches Raven's extreme shyness. He has a chiseled jawline and angular features that give him a mature appearance, unusual for a teenager.  He's the first Titan to take on the mantle of his mentor when the Flash dies in Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Wally remains an NTT member up to the start of the Judas Contract. In that time, he torturously falls in love with Raven; he is always torn by his desire to return to his ultra-normal hometown of Blue Valley and continue college. This character, at this time, is never a happy camper, which reflected some of the problems the writer had with Wally's huge speed powers.  The actor who plays Wally has to nail the character's constant wavering indecision from Kid Flash's NTT run, which paradoxically runs side-by-side with his early maturity and his conservative politics. For all his indecision, Wally has the backbone, maturity and courage to ground Raven for some time. At the same time, if the stories draw from the 1980s' period, Wally should also have an uncertain, deer in the headlights look: he's right on the verge of huge decisions, leaving the Titans and taking on Flash's mantle. Ryan McPartlin could convey Wally's straight-laced, rugged good looks and worried frown from this period.

Ryan McPartlin as Wally West.

To play Wally: Chad Michael Murray.

Another suggestion for Wally: Justin Chatwin.

Cyborg/Victor Stone

Like the other Titans, Vic Stone is a many-sided character. The actor who plays him has to project a penetrating intelligence, dignity, suffering, drive and rage. Early on, the character is nearly crippled by self-hatred due to his parents' lab accident and cybernetic transformation. But when Vic laughs, there's a big catharsis, a huge release. This is why Vic befriends Gar Logan, because Logan, with his experiences with Cliff Steele, knows how to look past the robot and befriend the man. With such a deeply pained character, his big smile is a huge reward. The actor cast as Victor has to be able to portray that dangerous agony - then turn around and grin at the good things in life. Vic is a survivor. The actor must capture Cyborg's resilience.

Taye Diggs as Vic Stone.

Victor is raised and home schooled in comfortable but lonely surroundings by parents who are ambitious, brilliant scientists. He rebels against them and runs with a street gang for awhile. He later becomes obsessed with sports. Victor is extremely intelligent, but paradoxically refuses to parade that intelligence around. He's one of the powerhouses on the team, but he's also the team's tech expert. Like Dick, he's a workaholic and becomes highly skilled in the cybernetic systems built by his father.

The actor must reflect all these dimensions, have a huge physical presence, and a large personality that is rigidly contained. Victor almost never loses his temper.  He's focused and methodical.  But in an unspoken way, he waits to follow Dick Grayson's lead.  Several fans have suggested Gaius Charles (below) for this role. To me, there's something that appeals slightly more about Taye Diggs (above). Diggs projects that brooding, penetrating intensity; he looks focussed and brilliant, as Victor should be, but has a huge, attractive grin, suggesting he has the range for the character.

Gaius Charles as Victor Stone.

Another suggestion to play Victor: Derek Luke.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Corbin Bleu as Vic.

Suggested at ComicBook.com: amazing Hunger Games star Dayo Okeniyi as Cyborg. Image Source: OK! Nigeria.

Ricky Whittle has the brooding presence to play Cyborg.


Casting Starfire would be difficult. You need a very pretty, busty actress who can be incredibly sweet, fun-loving, open and sexy one minute, a warrior the next, and filled with bloodlust and rage the next. Kory is a character whose superficial qualities are offset by tragedy, particularly five years of slavery, torture and rape, and later the loss of her planet and parents.

Therefore, the bombshell airhead is only something that should hold at first glance. Everything else is much more complicated. The actress can't just look the part. In the comic, Kory became a supermodel; but she was battle-hardened and tough and had spent years training to fight in hand-to-hand combat on the planet Okaara. She's an alien princess from a warrior culture, so to add to all that, the actress who plays her has to be able to pull off a regal bearing and attitude.

Maiara Walsh as Starfire.

As you can see from these actresses, there are two sides to Kory. The reality of the character is somewhere between Maiara Walsh and Kelly Brook.  Walsh projects Kory's love of life and cultural innocence.  But for pure raw sexuality, Brook wins, hands down.  The way the actress moves should reflect Kory's battle training, as well as the fact that Kory's people evolved from an alien cat species into a humanoid race. 

I don't know how either of these actresses would cope with the extreme physical training, bloodlust and toughness needed for this character. If Brook could handle the acting range, then the part would suit her, driven by her sheer physical presence.

Brooke Nevin as Kory. Image Source: Picturesnew.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Anna Lynne McCord as Kory.

Suggested at ComicBook.com: impressive, Oscar-nominated Hailee Steinfeld could play Koriand'r.

When developing his characterizations for the NTT, Wolfman stated that he formed two triangles, one for the male characters, one for the female.  (There were four male characters, and eventually four female characters, so I'm not sure how that works.)  The female triangle had Donna at the top of the pyramid, with Kory at one extreme in terms of violence and sexuality, and Raven on the other extreme.  Raven is originally a deeply repressed, withdrawn character raised by a fanatical religious sect.  Yet, like most of the other Titans, her original incarnation has two sides.  She's a female Antichrist character, the daughter of the demon, Trigon.  However, her good side is a female Christlike character.  Hers is the worst of lots. 

Raven is an empath. This involves her being able to sense everyone else's emotions, but all her emotions have to be denied, lest her evil side break free through them.  This makes her a simmering pressure cooker of a character, while being superficially cold almost all the time.  The actress who plays Raven has to go from being a self-sacrificing, highly intelligent, articulate and vulnerable (sometimes suicidal) character - to being the star of her own horror movie when she broken-heartedly - then rapturously - gives in to her father's influence.

It's this radical shift in Raven's characterization that would be difficult for an actress. Raven must be shy, personally emotionally inexperienced, sad, and with all her emotions under total control. In a way, the actress has to play an adult who has a thousand years' worth of pained wisdom, trapped in the mind and body of an increasingly desperate young woman who can never use any of that knowledge. Then in an instant, she must become a monstrous hellion, willing to destroy worlds, with a libido to match her murderousness - and willingness and ability to twist emotions and reality to her whims.
Kat Dennings as Raven.

Another suggestion for Raven:

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Summer Glau as Raven. Image Source: Summer Glau Wiki.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Taissa Farmiga as Raven.

Suggested at ComicBook.comKsenia Solo, a stunning choice to play Raven.

Suggested by readers at ComicBook.comAubrey Plaza as Raven.

Changeling/Beast Boy/Garfield Logan

Gar Logan is a metamorph, so artists take liberties with his human appearance.  The core of his personality in the early NTT is a blend of self-styled teen idol and a character nearly crippled by a secret inferiority complex and many private tragedies.

Zac Efron as Gar Logan.

Gar's characterization in the NTT is that of rich boy former teen sci-fi TV heartthrob. But some of this is Logan's own hype. You need an actor who can look goregous one minute, not so hot the next, and wild the next; you need someone with an uncertain face.  The character can transform into animals; thus, the actor must be very elastic in reflecting the beginning parts of Gar's metamorphoses before the CGI takes over.  The character is charming, a loyal and devoted friend, a rock on the team, yet deeply uncertain and haunted by his connections to the Doom Patrol.  The Patrol brings a flavour of death and madness to everything it touches.  To me, the actor of choice is Zac Efron.  He also has the acting range necessary for Logan's character.

Other fans have suggested (or hoped against) Edward Speleers for this role (below).  Over the years, some fans have seen Changeling's character as a Peter Pan with a dark side, and perceived in that a gay dimension, given his close friendship with Victor Stone.  Logan's always been presented as a heterosexual character (as has Vic).  But because Gar is a metamorph and has a messy past, a deep and hidden ambiguity in his thoughts, emotions, motives and endgame is always on the table. Speleers can capture Gar's look from the Perez days - and has the same boyish attractiveness and malleable looks.

Edward Speleers.

Other fans see Gar mainly as a joker and point to several other young actors who closely resemble later styles of the character that were strongly influenced by the Cartoon Network imp-like version of Beast Boy. I don't agree with the notion that because Logan can transform into animals, his human form should be bestialized.   Recently, there's also been a push because of the Teen Titans cartoon to make Gar look more like an elf or a hobbit.

A later look that imitated Marvel heroes' appearances.

A dramatization of the Judas Contract period should not feature the fanged Cartoon Network elf-hobbit, nor the Mike McKone adaptation of that image. Logan's not Marvel's Wolverine, Beast or Nightcrawler, which is how he's recently been depicted by artist Nicola Scott.  I would pick an actor who looks somewhere between George Perez's, José Luis García-López's, Justiniano's, and Ivan Reis's take on the character.  Gar reached his point of highest popularity with fans in the 1980s, hence the actor who looks at this character should think of the double-edged, sad successes of Tiger Beat pin-ups of that era, River Phoenix and Corey Haim.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Emile Hirsch as Gar Logan. Image Source: The Berry.

Out of all the male Titans, through the 1980s, Gar evolved from self-conscious joking kid to the team's romantic hero, and his human form should reflect that. In the NTT, Gar was a troubled teen dream type. Sometimes he really had hoards of adoring female fans demanding autographs, and sometimes his fandom was just him, hyping himself. In the 1980s' comics, Changeling was a C-list celebrity and had closets full of professional head shots which he autographed and sent out to fans.

If the live action version focuses on this version of Gar, the actor cast as Logan has to wear enormous wealth, celebrity and vanity lightly, and project a likeability offset by a secret inferiority complex compared to his fellow Titans, dumb jokes, and buried, bloody ferocity which might explode if he is pushed to his limits. On top of all of that, the actor has to make it clear that Gar is internally conflicted, but always a hero. He has guts and courage to soldier on no matter what.

More recent, de-aged versions of Beast Boy see him very differently from his 1980s' presentation. He is now more feral, gangly and awkward, less serious, less prominent, and no longer a romantic teen dream character. There is no sign in the current Beast Boy of his old connections to Hollywood, the strange alienation and tragic past of the Doom Patrol, the Judas Contract, or the fact that he is heir to Steve Dayton's wealth and power. This last point was something Marv Wolfman explored in the 1980s and 1990s, when he increasingly put Gar on parallel with Dick Grayson, adopted son of wealthy Bruce Wayne.

Gar's is a heroism tainted by a dark side. Before the Judas Contract takes place, he's already shown that he can go totally off the rails and kill a villain in a vengeful rage.  This is one scary aspect of his character that makes him a match for Tara Markov, both when he is deceived by her and when she reveals the truth about herself.  The actor also has to have a versatility to be a guy who can transform into any living creature, and hence almost no boundaries between humanity and the Animal Kingdom.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Dylan O'Brien as Beast Boy.

Terra/Tara Markov

For some fans, casting Terra is easy. You just need cute-n-crazy, with a touch of slutty. Actually, it's a tall order to get an actress who straddles two worlds so completely as this character does: Old and New Worlds; sane and insane; truth and lies.  You need an actress who can go from royalty to the gutter and back again in seconds, and who has enormous and growing power.  She's a completely messed-up earth elemental, who can tap the forces of the entire planet and is in deep trouble.

Natalia Vodianova as Tara Markov (another pic here, here and here).

Natalia Vodianova.

Natalia Vodianova has something that several blonde North American actresses (such as Elisha Cuthbert) who've been suggested for this part do not have.  She has a Slavic beauty which is very malleable.  Her appearance is changeable, hard to pin down; this is essential for portraying Tara's coy, unhinged treachery.  The actress is playing an actress - Tara must look like her heart will break and like she desperately needs saving.  But this vulnerability has to have a smirk around the edges, so that you think you're being played - something's not right.  The actress also has to project a sociopathic conniving personality, raw lusting sexuality, a dead, cold heartless psychopathology and coy, unhinged treachery.  Tara is a liar.  Trouble, with a capital T.

No matter what her flaws, like most of the other female Titans, Tara has royal blood.  As the illegitimate daughter of a king, Tara has to be common - but at any given moment project a refined bearing that will match Gar Logan's rich boy image.  The two actors playing Tara and Gar should look like they reflect each other physically and romantically in order to make the betrayal more convincing. She also has to be impossibly slim, almost a waif of a girl, tough and tomboyish.  The character has some delicacy, mixed with something unrepetant.  There are no apologies here.  But she can't be totally degenerate.  She should manifest inner strength, put to the wrong ends.  Another European actress who might be able to handle this character is Mélanie Thierry.

To be true to the character, the actress would also have to hit on Tara's central ambiguity, that she can always be seen two ways - as either a villain through and through - or a girl who's somehow been cast out of her father's house, brutalized, perhaps manipulated, maybe abused and victimized.  Her seduction of, or by, Deathstroke has to be played both ways simultaneously.  And her attachment to Gar Logan also has to be two-sided, so that you can't tell whether she is having doubts behind her mask of hesitant affection for him.  A viewer watching the performance should be absolutely sure she's evil, but there must always be an underlying uncertainty about her. Some members of the audience should walk away certain that she's a monster.  Others in the audience should be sure that there was some missing puzzle piece.  For example, the character has a sense of humour that matches Gar Logan's; it's equally ironic, but more twisted.  It's a notable characteristic, since most comic book superhumans are pretty humourless.

Michelle Trachtenberg would probably create a more American, less European, Tara. Several fans have suggested Trachtenberg for this role. Trachtenberg looks quite similar to Vodianova, without the latter's hard edges and unsettling chameleon qualities. Tara Markov should project secretive menace.  I feel that Trachtenberg too obviously looks the part of the rough 'n' ready traitor, as depicted in the late part of the Judas Contract, when Wolfman's and Perez's character assassination began. There's more to Tara Markov than the bad girl in the high school. There should be something about Tara that shows why and how Gar Logan could believe her and fall in love with her, even after he knew the truth about her, some exotic and mysterious aspect of her that only he saw. I'm not sure Trachtenberg could project Tara's ties to the Markov royal family. The actress must look like she is related to the actor cast as Geo-Force, who is a strong European character.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Aimee Teegarden as Tara Markov. Image Source: Scream Wikia.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Chloë Grace Moretz as Tara.

Geo-Force/Brion Markov

Tara's half-brother Geo-Force, is prince and later king of the petty Continental principality of Markovia.  He has to look European and aristocratic, with the square-jawed good looks of a major superhero in-training.  Think silver spoons and military colleges.  This brings to mind actor Christopher Egan.  Brion is very refined, proud, traditional, has a temper, likes the ladies.  He also has an edge that can make him as unhinged as his half-sister, and he is devoted to his country.  He will undertake the most extreme radical measures to protect it.  Thus, his royal charm, dedication and loyalty can dissolve rapidly into arrogance and ruthlessness.

Christopher Egan as Brion Markov.

Classic Titans

Speedy/Arsenal/Roy Harper

Roy Harper has only small roles in the NTT era of Titans' stories. The rehabbed drug addict with the unfortunate codename of Speedy was originally Green Arrow's protégé. He appears mainly in the Titans' anti-drug issues from this period He is also a notorious womanizer, which constantly gets him into trouble. Roy's basic characterization at this time, even when he's playing a straight-laced hero with limited panel time, is as the Titans' bad boy. In the panel below, Starfire rebuffs him.

Garrett Hedlund looks like he would capture Roy's bad boy image yet also be able to play on his down-to-earth background.  The orphaned Harper was raised by the Navajo before millionnaire Oliver Queen took him in.

Garrett Hedlund as Roy Harper.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Chris Carmack as Roy Harper. Image Source: Bellazon.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Taylor Kitsch as Roy Harper. Image Source: Spanegrish.

Lilith Clay was another original Titan who was used only as a supporting character during this period, mainly when Raven went off the deep end. Lilith retains a mystery girl quality from her 1960s-era introduction. Like Donna, she is a character with unknown, possibly divine roots.

Nick Cardy's depiction of Lilith.

Before Raven was introduced, Lilith played the mystical-magical woman on the team.  In fact, she is a precog, not a magical character like Raven. With strawberry-blonde hair, Kristen Stewart would make a convincing Lilith. She also has, through her work on the Twilight series, plenty of acting experience in this genre. Only a heavy-hitting actress could manage to play Lilith successfully.

The character has hippie roots with a touch of late 80s' goddess, when Wolfman and Perez wrote a story that tied Lilith to Olympus (along with Donna Troy) as the deity Thia's daughter. The actress would have to be mysterious, seductive, vulnerable and yet hard-as-nails when it comes to tackling the unknown. Lilith is a serious character, and has at times acted as one of the team's leaders. And while we're at it, we can't forget Lilith's father and Titans' sometime sponsor, Mr. Jupiter.

Kristen Stewart as Lilith.

Dakota Johnson as Lilith.

Aqualad/Tempest/Garth and Aquagirl/Tula

Aqualad and Aquagirl were original Titans who got less attention in the 1980s. During Crisis on Infinite Earths, Tula was killed, which left Garth in love with her ghost for over a decade. It became a tragic storyline, a loss from which Garth could not recover even after he married and had a child. Before DC's 2011 reboot, the company's editors dumped the old Aqualad character in 2009-2010 and revamped him as an African American teenager. Aquagirl received similar treatment.

Both Tula and Garth are wonderful characters. Garth, in particular, has often been short-changed in the Titans' line-up but he always shines when the writers bring him forward. He has magical abilites, intelligence, the empathy of an outsider that placed him in an emotional space somewhere near Gar Logan (in his more depressed moments) and Raven (in her regular moments). Key reading is Titans #15 (2009), when Garth finally ascended to the throne of Atlantis, followed by a typical, Didio-era let down; see Teen Titans Spotlight On #10 (1987), when Mento (maddened by an encounter with John Constantine) holds Garth captive and tortures him with illusions of Tula's death; and Tempest #4 (1997), when Garth tried to come to terms with Tula's death in one of the most touching scenes in the Titans' series.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: James Lafferty as Garth. Image Source: Listal.

Steven Strait as Aqualad. Image Source: fanpop.

Thomas McDonnell has the acting talent, looks, sensitivity and intelligence to play Garth.

Talulah Riley as Tula.

Hawk and Dove

Don Hall as Dove.

Channing Tatum wins as Hank Hall. Image Source: Get Mascular.

Hawk and Dove are original Titans who did not feature much in the New Teen Titans, but are still important members of the roster. Originally brothers Hank and Don Hall who embodied the 1960s' peace versus war debate, the pair was revived after Don's death in COIE. The late 1980s' series by Barbara and Karl Kesel successfully revived the Dove character as a woman, yet kept the characters' connection strictly non-romantic. They became avatars of magical powers, channeling aggression and rationality. Their continuity from the 1990s to 2010s became ugly and muddled, and the characters were revived as Dove, with her new half sister, before they were restored to the 1980s' characters Hank Hall and Dawn Granger.

Aaron Paul - a choice for Hawk. Image Source: Cinemablend.

Aaron Paul and his wife Lauren Parsekian channeling Hank and Dawn. Image Source: ABC News.

Amanda Seyfried as Dawn Granger. Image Source: Posh24.

Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfriend channeling Hank and Dawn. Image Source: collider.

Red Star

NTT #18.

Leonid Kovar was Russia's very own teen hero who occasionally, in the midst of the Cold War, bridged the political divide to work for or against the Titans. His conflict with Kid Flash in NTT #18 was a great Cold War political morality tale and a defining moment for Wally. In the 1990s, he became a Titan and anchored the disjointed team at that time. He is alternately morose, bad-tempered and sometimes, the piercing voice of reason.

Ivan Nikolaev could play Leonid.

Another choice for Red Star: Riley Smith.

Bette Kane / the original Batgirl / Flamebird / Hawkfire

TT vol. 1 #52 (1977).

Bette as Flamebird in Beast Boy #4 (2000).

Here's a character with a complicated past. Although she's the original Batgirl, a founding member of Titans West, and has a long history with the team, she gets no respect. The writers almost never do her justice. She was often depicted as a shallow blonde crushing on male Titans - Dick Grayson, Hank Hall and Gar Logan.

 Bette at the start of the Beast Boy mini.

Bette in the Titans Annual # 1 (2000).

She has no special powers, but she's a tennis star with drive and grit, who wanted to be a superhero and Grayson's partner. She's a bouncy, motivated character who finally got decent treatment from Geoff Johns in the Beast Boy miniseries in 2000. When Dawn Granger met her, she overcame jealousy of Bette's past with Hank Hall to observe Bette behind the scenes, where Flamebird cut a lonely, intriguing figure. She's a member of the Bat family, but never taken seriously; other stories tie Nightwing and Flamebird to the Superman mythos. More recently, DC showed her as a fallible girl, struggling as always to become part of the superhuman crowd, working as Batwoman's protégé, and nearly dying for it. In the DCnU 52, she was renamed Hawkfire.

Laura Ramsey: a choice to play Bette.

Bette as depicted on Young Justice.

The Wilsons

Jericho/Joseph Wilson

The son of Deathstroke and Adeline Wilson, two tough-as-nails characters, Jericho is supposed to be a creative, open-hearted artist, who only knows how to fight because his crazy parents drilled it into him.  Although he's the son and brother of villains, he's sensitive; he's good; he's a true blue hero, set up deliberately by the NTT writer to contrast with Terra's nastiness.  He is her replacement.  He's also mute, due to a disastrous kidnapping incident when he was a child, in which his father failed to protect him.  And he's a mutant who has the ability to inhabit other people's bodies by making eye contact.  His connection with Raven and his powers later drive him over the edge and turn him into a villain.  But in this period, he is heroic.

Justin Timberlake as Joseph Wilson.

Jericho's appearance is distinctive: you need a handsome, tall actor who has to look related to the actors playing Deathstroke, Ravager and Adeline Kane Wilson. He has to have penetrating blue eyes, and a mop of curly blond hair and sideburns.  On top of that, he has to wear a disco-suit costume without looking silly.  I think it's mainly due to his appearance and his musical background that other fans have suggested Justin Timberlake for this role.  In the comics, it would take Jericho a long, long, long time - twenty odd years - to look tough and handsome. In the early days, he had a 1980 Chris Atkins Blue Lagoon thing going on (see here).

The good son: Jericho is a sensitive, romantic artist and musician.

Some think Alex Pettyfer should play Joseph.

Another suggestion for Joey:

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Jamie Bell as Joey Wilson. Image Source: Soft Pillow.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Daniel Sharman as Joey.

Hayden Christensen has the burning eyes, good looks and acting range to play all sides of Jericho as the character evolves. Just look at this moment in Star Wars III. This is a great scene of a young protégé turning against his father figure. Titans Hunt, here we come, because Titans stories are all about legacies, and Jericho repays his father Deathstroke for the latter's sins.

Ravager I/Grant Wilson

For the sullen misfit who is Deathstroke's older son, you need an actor who can play this small but critical role with panache. There has to be a 'could have been' quality about Grant Wilson to make the entire origins of the Judas Contract work.  The first Ravager is crippled by trying to live up to the legacy of his father, the most dangerous soldier and assassin on the planet. Strangely, Grant doesn't know that his father is Deathstroke; he's merely heard his father go on and on about how great the master mercenary is.  And Ravager's mother, Adeline, is not far behind his father in terms of her abilities as a world-renowned soldier and strategist. Grant is the scapegoat and karmic figure for both his parents. He takes his desire to impress his father to the point of homicide - and suicide. To win his approval, he ingests an experimental serum that is meant to induce Deathstroke's abilities so that he can mimic the man his father admires, not realizing that man is his father.  The serum gives him superhuman abilities, but also quickly kills him.

For this role, the actor has to show an awareness of coming incredibly close to an unbelievably high level of training and ability, and failing. Think of Marlon Brando saying, "I coulda been a contender!" (here).  Chris Evans has taken his turn at superhero movies before.  He has the experience and know-how to turn a small vignette into something powerful within this film genre.  He also has the blond good looks to appear related to the Wilsons, and could project a deep unease. It's an aspect that has to start off as percolating frustration and end bordering on insanity.

Chris Evans as Grant Wilson.

Travis van Winkle as Grant Wilson. Image Source: aceshowbiz.

Daddy's Little Girl: Rose Wilson.

Rose Wilson is the most interesting character in the whole Wilson clan, including her father. How she stays a heroine is a weird miracle of successful story-telling. To start, there's the reverse psychology that pits her bad girl antics and rough honesty against Cassie Sandsmark's blonde leadership. She resembles Terra as a conflicted daughter figure of Deathstroke.

In one of the Titans' most frightening legacy stories, Rose cuts out her own eye to be more like her father and win his approval, joining him in the Wilsons' symbolic struggle with vision and blindness. Rose always walks the line. She's a killer, but somehow, she ends a heroine, not a villainess. She makes Marv Wolfman's tiresome anti-hero worship of Deathstroke interesting.

Kenzie Dalton as Rose.

Suggested at Titans Tower: Kiernan Shipka as Slade's lovechild, Rose.

Deathstroke is the Titans' main villain. He starts off as a Special Forces soldier in the US Army.  Training to the limits of his abilities, he volunteers to take a Super Soldier drug to become even better.  His subsequent superhuman abilities inspire him to leave the military and become a mercenary for hire, who can kill anyone for the right price.  As he becomes a supervillain, however, his original training makes him retain a weird code of honour.  But it's a pretty flexible code. 

Suave and debonair, Slade was designed by his creators, Wolfman and Perez, to be a sexy, villainous anti-hero who mirrors Batman. His first protégé (mirroring Batman's taking on Robin) is Terra, with whom he has a creepy sexual relationship.  It's his entanglement with Terra that shows the anti-hero not only as a villain, but as a masterful, seductive player who constantly engages the largely parentless Titans in the worst kinds of psychological warfare. Slade's one eye has several metaphorical connotations.  Over time, he becomes their twisted father figure, and his fights with them become almost those of a dysfunctional family.  The actor who plays Deathstroke has to be a bit younger than Slade actually is, and aged up, due to the physical demands of the role.  The character is probably in his fifties, but has the body of a twenty-something in peak condition.  The actor has to demonstrate tremendous physical fitness and presence and be able to project a very seductive, disarming and manipulative character who is as convinced of his own capabilities as he is of his motivations.  The actor would have to portray a consummate professional soldier, who has taken a very wrong path indeed.  For this role, several fans have suggested Thomas Jane, who trained with Navy SEALs for a role as Punisher.

Thomas Jane as Slade Wilson.

Michael Wincott as Slade. Image Source: imgarcade.

Suggested at Titans Tower: J. R. Bourne as Slade.

For Wolfman and Perez, there must have been nothing better than coming up with one of the top supervillains of all time, the anti-Batman, and then inventing his vengeful ex-wife.  Addie Kane Wilson comes from an old, moneyed family; she somehow ends up in the US Military as one of its most competitive officers, where she meets her future husband.  By the time we first encounter her, she's a chain-smoking, middle-aged woman who runs her own global mercenary and private intel operation.  Several fans have suggested that Stephanie Romanov would be ideal for this role of a sharp, sophisticated, intelligent and highly trained woman who has lost none of her glamour, has a worldwide network of contacts, and has one final goal: destroying her murderous ex.  The actress who plays Addie Kane has to make us believe that she's possibly the only person on earth who can bring Deathstroke down.

Stephanie Romanov as Adeline Wilson.

Loren Jupiter

Top two panels: Teen Titans #25 (1970); and panel above: Teen Titans (second series) #15 (1997). Images Source: Titans Tower.

Before we get to Raven's infamous parents, aka the worst divorced couple in the entire universe, we need to address the murky parentage of the Titans' other mystic, Lilith. In the first series from the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Jupiter was a random billionaire who bankrolled the Titans and gave them a headquarters. Eventually, DC's writers got off their asses and gave him a bigger motive to support fledgling superheroes other than abstract philanthropy. Surprise! He was secretly Lilith's father.

Billy Bob Thornton has the methodical intensity to play Mr. Jupiter.


Raven's parents. Arella was a troubled, beautiful girl who joined a cult, which served her up on a sacrificial platter to the demon they worshiped. Enter Trigon, a demon on par with the devil himself.  Back in 1982 when sensitive ideas in comics were still treated gingerly under the code, Raven claimed she was the product of a union in which her mother Arella was enthralled by Trigon in a gorgeous princely disguise. In later versions, writers presented Raven as the product of a rape; and by 2013, they could openly depict Trigon raping his way across the galaxy.

For her sins, Arella retreated to the other-dimensional realm of Azarath to give birth to, and raise, her half-demon-spawn daughter.  There, she joined the cult of Azar, run by a benefic, ultra-patient living goddess mystic of the same name. In Azarath, Azar presided over a collective of extreme pacifists, who were intent on containing Trigon's evil through mysticism and meditation.  Never mind that they had actually created Trigon (or vastly strengthened him) by expunging their own evil from their souls. Over the years, writer Marv Wolfman keeps revisiting the idea that Trigon is a kind of dark solar battery for cosmic negativity and Azarath was one of his many pit stops for charging up.

The role of Raven's haunted, troubled mother should go to a veteran actress who has steel in her performance. I can think of no better candidate who matches the look and tone of the character than Lena Olin. After seeing Olin in movies like The Ninth Gate, I've no doubt she could handle the material in the Terror of Trigon.  Arella and Adeline Wilson should be roughly the same age.  But Arella should be a bit more aged in appearance, having grown haggard guarding the dimensional portal which her former demon lover is constantly trying to breach.

Lena Olin as Arella.

Tim Curry in Legend (1985) - a convincing audition for Trigon.

Actor Tim Curry of Rocky Horror fame has the chops to play Trigon.

Perhaps Tim Curry is too old now to play Trigon, but he sure cut the right figure back in the day. You need a really fearless actor to play Raven's father, because the character embodies some of the most terrifying themes in comics. It is strongly hinted that when Raven succumbs to Trigon, there is an incestuous rape, although this has never been openly depicted in the comic books. In the first fall of Raven, Trigon effectively rapes the entire planet. The actor who plays Trigon has to project a blood-chilling menace combined with a startling masculine sexuality in the worst imaginable combination. He is everyone's darkest childhood nightmare, brought to life.

Jonathan Breck Jeepers Creepers audition. Video Source: Youtube.

Want a younger Trigon? Have a look at Jonathan Breck's famous and successful audition for The Creeper in Jeepers Creepers (2001), and you can see him storming the gates of Azarath.

Jonathan Breck as Trigon.

Mento/Steve Dayton

Gar Logan's adoptive father is a mess of contradictions.  The fifth richest man in the world, he used his billions to develop all manner of shady technology, especially cybernetics, psionic technology and genetics. He is also a brilliant designer himself, and created the Mento helmet to amplify his brain waves, become the part time superhero known as Mento, and convince the beautiful Rita Farr (DC's superheroic version of Audrey Hepburn) to marry him. 

It seems, however, that the helmet only works with people who have psionic powers already; for example, Gar Logan is able to use it, but others cannot. It was hinted in Giffen's run of the Doom Patrol that Dayton may owe some of his vast fortune to the covert use of his powers in business deals. So Dayton is in fact a real telepath, given to dangerous bouts of melancholia, depression and deranged grandiose plans. One minute, he is overbearing, yet grows into the role of Gar's father hesitantly but successfully. The next minute he's completely unhinged and trying to kill his adopted son. I think George Clooney is handsome and charismatic enough to project Dayton's successful alpha male, man of the world persona. But he also has enough depth to portray Dayton's hidden powers, unknown secrets, and frightening flights from reality.

George Clooney as Steve Dayton.

Other Titans and Young Justice Characters

Shia LeBeouf as Tim Drake. Image Source: Yes Hairstyles.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Logan Lerman as Tim Drake. Image Source: Logan Lerman France.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Taylor Momsen as Cassie Sandsmark. Image Source: WallPaperMine.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Emma Roberts as Cassie Sandsmark. Image Source: NewsGab.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Emma Degerstedt as Cassie Sandsmark. Image Source: Fan Pix.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Sean Faris as Superboy/Kon-El. Image Source: Pretty Little Liars Wiki.

Suggested at SuperHeroHype: Adam Gregory as Superboy/Kon-El. Image Source: Contact Music.

Suggested at ComicBook.comJohnny Simmons as Kid Flash II/Impulse/Bart Allen.

Damian Wayne: Batman's problem child. Image Source: deviantART.

Penn Badgley as Damian Wayne.


Jared Padalecki as the Disruptor.

Peter Dinklage as Gizmo.

Psimon, Fearsome Five member who was created by Raven's father, Trigon. 

Kris Lemche could play Psimon.

Wow - Madame Rouge is a juicy role! You need a beautiful dark-haired actress who can tackle Madame Rouge's role as French actress, pawn of the villain the Brain, lover of the Doom Patrol's heroic leader, the Chief, and a shapeshifter between good and evil in her own right. This is a conflicted, deeply troubled character who has her final fatal run-in with Gar Logan in a classic NTT story (see my post on Madame Rouge's fall and her death at Gar's hands here).

Paige Turco as Madame Rouge.

UPDATE: A Titans live action TV pilot is in the works at TNT, as of September 2014. To support this development, this post will be updated with new casting suggestions periodically and expand to include more Titans characters.

UPDATE (December 2014): From Titans Tower:
Looks like the Teen Titans TV series on TNT is moving forward with a pilot order!
Geoff Johns himself confirmed “We shoot the pilot next year!” Here’s how the Hollywood Reporter reported the upcoming series: “Based on characters from DC Comics, Titans revolves around a group of young superheroes-to-be who are recruited from every corner of the DC universe. The action-themed drama centers on Dick Grayson, who emerges from the shadow of Batman to become Nightwing, the leader of a fearless band of new superheroes including Starfire, Raven and more. The show is described as a dramatic adventure series that will explore and celebrate one of the most popular comic book titles ever.” So who will play these young (maybe not so teenaged) Titans?
UPDATE (2 February 2015): From Nerdist:

Confirmed characters in the pilot are: Dick Grayson/Robin/Nightwing; Barbara Gordon/Batgirl/Oracle; Rachel Roth/Raven; Koriand'r/Starfire; Hank Hall/Hawk; Dawn Granger/Dove, with speculated additions Gar Logan/Beast Boy; Vic Stone/Cyborg; Roy Harper/Arsenal; Wally West/Kid Flash.

UPDATE (7 January 2016): From Variety: No pilot to be produced, series dead.

Ritchson and Kelly as Hawk and Dove. Image Source: Deadline.

UPDATE (9 February 2018): From Deadline: A direct-to-digital series is slated for 2018 on DIRECTV. With Raven played by Teegan Croft; Anna Diop as StarfireDick played by Brenton Thwaites; Alan Ritchson and Minka Kelly as Hawk and Dove; and last but not least, Ryan Potter as Gar.
Thwaites as Robin. Image Source: Deadline.

All DC Comics stories, characters and the distinctive likenesses thereof are Trademarks & Copyright © DC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


  1. I had some comments on this post previously that blogger seems to have erased. Anyhow, someone disagreed with my choice for Jericho. I have seen an alternate suggestion for him as Alex Pettyfer


  2. On Comic Vine, this post received some questions about the age of the actors. I chose actors already in their 20s or even in their early 30s because although Wolfman and Perez nominally set these characters as teenagers, they really wrote the characters as young college students.

  3. Kat Dennings' figure doesn't look like Raven's (She has a lot more of what in Spanish we call "pechonalidad") but she's a good actress who could pull it off.

  4. I take your point:

    However, I know of no other young actress who resembles Perez's take on Raven so perfectly in terms of her face. She even has one subtle stipulation he made for her character design, that her upper lip would be slightly larger than her lower lip. (!)

    As for her figure, Raven spends most of the time wrapped up in robes. She also has to let her hair down when she goes evil, and in that case Dennings revealing her figure would actually help the scene.

  5. Taye Diggs is entirely too old to play Victor. At 42, he is nearly two decades Cyborg's senior.

    I have to say, I am not a fan of any of Joey Wilson's casting suggestions and prefer Kellan Lutz myself.

    I also honestly do not think Kat Dennings has the depth to pull off Raven. I have never seen her play anything that was not "quirky". I am not sure why someone would complain about her figure, as in later iterations, Raven is shown to have some enviable curves. My personal choice for Raven, who is above and beyond my favorite, is Alexandra Daddario.

    On positive notes, I actually LOVE Garrett Hedlund for Roy (another favorite), and your choices for Dick Grayson are pretty spot-on, though I would throw Mattew Boehmer into that mix, as well.

    Then again, these are only opinions and no more valid than anyone else's...

    1. Thanks for your suggestions, Julia. I have added them. Really, for a young cast like this, they would have to be up-and-coming actors who have just hit the spotlight. Many of these actors would be way too old (or are too old already) by the time way in the future when DC finally gets its act together and produces a Titans movie. I don't expect one as long as Didio helms DC. Also, there is a difference between how the classic Titans are perceived now and how they were perceived in the 80s. Because they grew up so much in the 90s and early 00s (before Didio obliterated them) they were increasingly perceived as adults in their 20s and 30s, and written as such. Obviously for a story like the Judas Contract they would be around 17-24, though I can see that story re-written for them when they were older. DC generally has problems with these characters precisely because they grew up.

  6. This is a fantastic post, not just for your casting choices, but also the level of depth you put into analyzing each of the characters. You have such a grasp on each character, which is probably why your picks are so great. I absolutely love your bit about Terra, and your choice of Kristen Stewart for Omen is really interesting Even now, this is one of the best NTT casting picks I've seen.

  7. my name name is alexander shenjobi i am an african and i have been times without number that i fit the beast boy role i always loved the character and it would be my dream to act as the character i know this is just a blog but blogs really catch peopls attention these days check my instagram page@alexandershenjobi to know me more i also play football

    1. Hey Alexander, I mentioned you in my latest post. Hope the big guys in California are reading. You look like you'd be a great Garfield Logan. :)

    2. Thank you Tam b i hope so too

  8. thanks ill be following your blog

  9. thank you i hope so too because i would add all my effort to play the characters role

    1. Hi Alexander, hope it helps. Try reaching out to Geoff Johns on Twitter, tell him your dream. https://twitter.com/geoffjohns

  10. Honestly, as Raven, I think the actress should really pull off a dark, gothic type style. My perfect choice for that would be either Fairuza Balk or Christina Ricci. When it comes to dark, creepy, and gothic, one of these two have it nailed. As for Ricci, she did both Lizzie Borden and Wednesday Adams (Creepy enough for you?) Fairuza, she's a total goth and gorgeous, so definitely could do a great gothic look for Raven.

  11. Honestly, for Raven, you need either a dark, gothic style or dark and creepy, yet beautiful and intriguing. If you want dark, creepy, gothic, yet intriguing, Christina Ricci has done both Lizzie Borden and Wednesday Adams (Dark & Creepy enough for you?). Fairuza Balk is not only beautiful, she is totally dark and gothic in style.

    1. Thanks for your comment GR, unfortunately I think both actresses are now too old to play Raven. They could play Raven as an adult. I'm not completely happy with the television version of Raven, played by Teagan Croft; she does an OK job, but it's not a knock-your-socks off live Raven. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0FOgmkhexU