Last Thursday, DC Universe unveiled the first trailer for its original live action series Titans and the response was certainly mixed. Going for a darker, edgier vibe than both Teen Titans cartoon series, the Internet seemed to rally around the trailer’s key line. Robin, played by Blue Lagoon: The Awakening‘s Brenton Thwaites, unleashes a brutal form of justice on some goons. When they ask about Batman, he responds with a seeming mission statement for the series: “F*ck Batman.”
It is a meme-ready moment, but perhaps not in the way DC Universe intended.
Nonetheless, it became a big topic of discussion during the opening morning of Comic-Con International: San Diego and Syfy Wire went directly to the small screen’s Batman for comment. Gotham star David Mazouz, when asked about Robin’s impertinence, responded succinctly:
— SYFY (@SYFY) July 23, 2018
Unfortunately, not all of the reaction could be as good-natured. In response to the very brief glimpses of Starfire in the trailer, angry racist “fans” descended on the Instagram account of Anna Diop, who plays Kori in the series. After enduring a morning of racist screeds, she deleted most of the posts on her Instagram feed and disabled comments on all but the most recent post.
Sadly, she has been facing this sort of “criticism” ever since paparazzi shots of her as Starfire emerged in April. At the time, she wrote (in a since deleted post), “Too often social media is abused by some who find refuge in the anonymity and detachment it provides: misused as a tool to harass, abuse, and spew hatred at others. This is weak, sad, and a direct reflection of the abuser. Racist, derogatory, and/or cruel comments have nothing to do with the person on the receiving end of that abuse.”
And while there are fair comments to make about the show’s tone, re-imagining of the characters and its reluctance to showcase Diop as Starfire, those issues take second fiddled to the ugly way “fans” attacked an actor who does not fit their “vision” of a character. As seems to be the case in all of fandom these days, racists crow the loudest. In the case of Starfire — an orange-skinned alien modeled after a black woman by original artist George Perez — the racist vitriol only comes into starker clarity as these supposed fans continue to complain that “one of those people” took “one of our characters” away.
The real message of superheroes has been lost on them.