How Titans Season 4 Will Change Tones From Previous Seasons

In its upcoming fourth season, the DC Comics series "Titans" looks to change the scenery from the dark and gritty nature of Gotham City. Instead of lurking in the shadows of Gotham, the Titans move their efforts to a much brighter, lively location within the DC Universe: Metropolis. There are a few story reasons for this (Lex Luthor, Cult of Blood, etc.), but it also serves as a rebirth of sorts for the series itself. After basking in the gritty nature of its superhero world, "Titans" promises to move forward with a new, more colorful tone that still dips its toes into darkness from time to time.

Ever since Dick Grayson (Brenton Thwaites) uttered the words "f**k Batman" in the first trailer of "Titans," it seemed the show was destined to fall to the wayside as a failed attempt at grounding the Teen Titans. Yet the series lived on. In the subsequent seasons, attempts were made to rectify past mistakes and pursue grounded superheroism while sprinkling in a lighter tone. The last season was especially bleak thanks to its setting and deranged villain, but it tried to tap into the light-hearted sensibilities of its heroes from time to time. However, the upcoming season will move further into the light, both literally and metaphorically.

New scenery and fresh blood

During a roundtable interview at New York Comic-Con, "Titans" showrunner Greg Walker talked about the tonal implications of moving to Metropolis (and why the darker themes are more isolated):

"This year, we had to bring in different colors and tones, going to Metropolis. It's different than Gotham. You know, you don't play darkness in the same way. But we do still find darkness there. It's a good question because it really allows me to talk about one of the things I'm most excited about, is we make a real turn into horror this year, a real choice to go into darkness, and horror, supernatural. And when you bring in characters like Mother Mayhem and Brother Blood into the show, it opens the door to exploring the horrors, you know, so there's a lot of blood, there's a lot of effects, and the cinematography accounts for that."

In terms of the visual aesthetic of "Titans," it is a remarkably well-composed and lit series, even in its most dreary moments. The cinematography consistently separates itself from other superhero shows, often leaning into the dramatic tones of the storyline. However, in the fourth season, the horror-tinged elements of the Cult of Blood will feel distinct from the rest of the show. Instead of going a step too far and bathing the entire show in light, "Titans" looks to contrast it with an appropriate amount of darkness.

Unfortunately, the gritty tone of "Titans" is often not the real issue at hand.

Fourth time's the charm?

As "Titans" continues to make promises, one cannot help but think of the expectations set by the last three seasons. Despite intriguing storylines and commitment to letting the titular superhero team have fun, it never truly sticks the landing. The series as a whole has gotten better since its freshman debut, but there is not a single season finale worth a damn. As a longtime "Titans" watcher, I can appreciate the intention to switch up tones and scenery. After all, the trailer itself references "new beginnings" as a major theme this time around. But if real progress is to be made, let's cut the act and focus on the shortcomings at hand. I'm excited about the switch to Metropolis and the introduction of Brother Blood — however, we've seen what promises are worth. 

Until we can get to see the series for ourselves, the latest trailer will have to do. The fourth season of "Titans" premieres on HBO Max on November 3, 2022.