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Why ‘Gritty’ Superhero Movies Are So Compelling


Titans star Alan Ritchson, who plays Hank “Hawk” Hall, knows exactly why audiences are drawn to “gritty” superhero media. At New York Comic Con, Ritchson dove into what “dark and gritty” really means, how Titans is different from all the superhero media that has come before it and more.

Asked what it is that makes fans want to see superheroes so broken, he said, “I think it gives us hope. I think we all need hope. We all feel as broken. We all are. We have a hard time talking about it, so getting a chance to escape to a world where we recognize ourselves on screen and also see the potential to do something great gives us hope.”

“It’s become a little cliche these days to be like, ‘Oh, it’s darker and grittier.’ People started that with Harry Potter 2, like, ‘It’s darker this year, so you’ve got to come see!’ Okay. It’s what you say, I guess, to sell people on something being cool,” he explained.

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“I don’t give a shit. That word means nothing to me. What does that mean? Darker? What does that mean? That’s ridiculous!” he continued. “It doesn’t say anything about the content of a movie. That’s a great question. What is darker? I hate that word. Are we exploring the human condition in a way that scrapes the scab off the stuff that other people are afraid to talk about? Then yes, it does, and it does it in a really brutal way, which I think you start to see in [episodes] one and two. It’s like a no-holds-barred look at these guys’ lives. It’s like a look behind the mask.”

“So walking into the sets the first time and watching Brenton [Thwaites] work as Robin — I mean, he put a lot of time and effort into what he does. In fact, I walked into a stunt rehearsal for the first time and I saw somebody working the bow, working the staff, and it was just — it was like, ‘Holy shit, his stuntman is amazing!’ And then Brenton finishes up and he’s like, ‘Okay, your turn.’ I was like, ‘That was you?!’” he recalled. “I mean, everybody’s gone the distance for this, to explore these characters and I love that it’s also a peek behind the mask.”

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“You don’t often get to explore relationships the way that we do in this, and we spend time in Hank and Dawn’s apartment when they’re not doing anything super, and that’s special,” he added. “That’s special. And so getting to explore that, see that happen, see that among other characters, that’s been a pleasant surprise and where I think they really held true to their promise.”

Now streaming on DC Universe, Titans stars Brenton Thwaites as Robin, Anna Diop as Starfire, Teagan Croft as Raven, Ryan Potter as Beast Boy, Alan Ritchson as Hawk, Minka Kelly as Dove, and Lindsey Gort as Amy Rohrbach. A new episode debuts each Friday.



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