'Titans': Easter Eggs and References in the Series Pilot
Today, DC Universe launched Titans, the first of the streaming network's original series and the long-awaited live-action debut of characters like Beast Boy and Starfire as series leads in their own show.
The series features several character that fans will be familiar with from things like Teen Titans Go!, but does so in a much more R-rated way.
Along the way, there are allusions and refrences made to various DC Comics stories, pop culture phenomena, and the like that felt like they were worth taking note of.
You can read our list below, and pop into the comments (or hit me up at @russburlingame on Twitter) if you think I missed any or misread the intention of any of the references.
So the series takes place not in Bludhaven or Gotham or Metropolis, but Detroit.
We will get into something a little bit later about the use of real versus fictional cities in Titans, but why Detroit, in particular?
Well, because that's where Geoff Johns, the former DC executive who was key in bringing Titans to life, comes from. Johns can usually be seen in public sporting a Detroit Tigers hat — just like Adam Strange from Krypton!prevnext
The Flying Graysons
The Flying Graysons appear briefly in Rachel's dream/Dick's flashback.
Like many recent adaptations, their circus costumes are essentially porto-robin costumes. Titans is not quite as on-the-nose with this motif as some of the others (think Batman Forever or All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder), but the detailing around the shoulders certainly looks like a cape.prevnext
Who's That Lady?
There are a few actors in this series where you will probably think "I know her from somewhere...," and one of those is Raven's adoptive mother.
Raven's mom is played by Sherilynn Fenn. Fenn is best known as Audrey Horne from Twin Peaks, but has also appeared in shows like Gilmore Girls and Psych.prevnext
Like Gotham and Riverdale, this show has an analog feel and a kind of "timeless" quality. While those shows use a lot of imagery common to the '80s and earlier, this one seems to be set in the '90s, or at least to evoke that look with its cars and phones.
This gives the whole thing a generally run-down quality. The computers and such are used sparingly, although the ones in the police station look pretty current, so they are not SETTING the show in an earlier decade, just using older objects to set a tone.prevnext
Amanda Conner Cameo(ish)
Trix are for kids — and collectors. At breakfast time, Rachel Roth enjoys a healthy and delicious box of Trix cereal (with apparently little or no milk, as her mother failed to get more).
That box of Trix may have had the Superman logo removed from its superhero rabbit, but it is still recognizably the design Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts drew for a 2017 promotion with General Mills.
Keep an eye peeled later in the series to see whether the Honey Nut Cheerios bee ever ends up in a Batman cape and cowl!prevnext
Signs of the devil
Throughout this first episode, we see a recurring theme of Christianity and religion, seemingly being used in an attempt at keeping Raven's powers at bay.
All of the demonic stuff is a nod to the fact that Raven's father in the comics is Trigon, one of the Titans' most dangerous foes and one of a handful of devil-like baddies that populate the DC Universe.prevnext
New guy in town
The thing of Dick Grayson being from Gotham and transferring to another police precinct — hell, the idea of him being a cop — was a primary driver in the classic Chuck Dixon/Scott McDaniel run on Nightwing, which redefined the character following the events of "Knightfall."
That era of Nightwing introduced Bludhaven, which would become Dick's most regular stomping grounds for years. One big difference between Bludhaven in the comics and Detroit in the TV series is that in Bludhaven, Gotham was nearby and Bludhaven was still a hole. Detroit has its issues, but as evidenced by dialogue in the premiere, those cops still see Gotham as a hellhole.prevnext
The music cue when Robin first appears onscreen feels like it was designed to evoke Danny Elfman's iconic theme from Tim Burton's Batman.
That theme inspired the music for Batman: The Animated Series and Elfman recently sampled it himself when he was scoring the Justice League movie.prevnext
Everybody hates Gotham
After discovering that Dick transferred in from Gotham City, his new partner says "Jesus."
This is indicative of a broader feeling that Gotham is a disaster, which gets touched on a couple of times in the pilot.
At one point, Dick's captain says that they don't want Robin in their city, becuase he will bring the supervillains along with him.
We are not sure who the captain might mean by "psychopaths in drag," but I assume that the "painted freaks" he mentions is an allusion to The Joker.prevnext
When Raven goes to the bus station to get a ticket, the fact that the cities used on the monitor are all real is a break with convention for DC. Typically Marvel is steeped in the real world but DC uses fictional cities (many of which are just fictionalized versions of familiar ones) in order to be able to do whatever they want within the story and not have the problem of "oh, we blew up New York." Here, though, the attempt at a grounded, real-world feel has them electing to steer away from the fantastical a bit and every city mentioned in the pilot is real except for Gotham.
While in Detroit, Raven throws a rock at a police car in order to be detained by the cops so she can escape a likely abduction. Based on a quick Google Image search, it appears that Michigan does indeed have standard license plates for most police vehicles (as opposed to some places where they have either abbreviated numbers or just "police" vanity plates).
The bottom line should say "Municipal" for the Detroit PD, which may be the case here — the license plate holder obscures just what it is that is written there. For that reason, it seems unlikely that license plate holders are standard on Detroit police cars. The Detroit Police Department declined to comment to ComicBook.com about the policy.prevnext
Kory Anders, Starfire's assumed name, is a nod to "Koriand'r," her name from the comics.prevnext
Konstantin Kovar, the crime boss seen cozying up to Kory Anders on her cell phone lock screen, is a familiar name to fans of DC TV, as he was a major player in the fifth season of Arrow, in which he was played by Dolph Lundgren (Rocky IV, Aquaman).
In the comics, Konstantin Kovar was the father of Leonid Kovar, a Russian superhero known as Red Star, a member of Teen Titans, New Titans and an ally of Red Robin. Konstantin eventually turned up as a villain, the man behind "meta men", before his apparent death.
We might get some version of some of that backstory later, but his apparent death comes much earlier in Titans.
In both this show and Arrow, though, he ends up an emaciated, discolored skeleton.prevnext
The disembodied hand on Dick's shoulder in the circus flashback is pretty clearly Bruce Wayne.
Later, we get a brief flash of Dick's life at Wayne Manor, complete with a note from Bruce. It seems likely Bruce will be the same kind of character here that Superman was in the first season of Supergirl -- with a presence felt and implied but not actually seen.prevnext
The idea that Dick left Batman because he was becoming too much like him is not entirely divorced from the Nightwing backstory of the comics, but is more similar to Tim Drake's, whose greatest fear (at least in Johns's characterization of him) is becoming too much like Batman and losing his humanity.prevnext
I Feel Love
Donna Summer's "I Feel Love," which is playing in Kovar's club as Kory arrives, was covered by Josie and the Pussycats in season one of Riverdale.
Believe it or not, this is not the only time the two have soundtrack overlap in the first three episodes of Titans.prevnext
Starfire's little giggle after killing Kovar might seem cruel, sadistic or crazy. A more charitable reading might be that she simply does not quite grasp the gravity of the situation, as one of her key characteristics is being naive and experiencing everything for the first time.
It seems like bringing her into the search for Raven and taking away her memories is a way of retaining that idea while still giving her a tie to the main plot and not just having "alien shows up, befriends our heroes" as a subplot.prevnext
Visions Electronics is a Canadian chain (Titans was filmed in and around Toronto).
As far as we can tell from looking at the website, there are no locations in Michigan, which makes the appearance of this store a minor continuity error.prev