While many young DC fans know the shape-changing Beast Boy (Garfield "Gar" Logan) as the fun-loving prankster in Teen Titans, we got to he his original team, the Doom Patrol, in live action form for the first time during DC Universe’s series Titans.
So far, Titans has been helped to bring into the spotlight some DC’s heroes and villains who don’t always get center stage, including Hawk and Dove and the Nuclear Family, but the Doom Patrol has been one of its most honest and nostalgia-filled treatments, concentrating on its original line up.
Doom Patrol debuted in 1963 in the comic series My Greatest Adventure, created by Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani. It soon became a series of its own, and the team has made several animated appearances on different DC series. Since its inception, the title has undergone the same fate of all super teams from Justice League to Avengers with a changing array of members and writers. One stand-out is Grant Morrison’s darkly fun incarnation of the team for Vertigo Comics.
For those unfamiliar with the team, Doom Patrol’s founding members revealed in the series are:
• The Chief, portrayed by Bruno Bishir. Doctor Niles Caulder is a paraplegic genius who has used the wealth he amassed from his scientific breakthroughs to help save and care for individuals who have been altered greatly due to accidents.
Interestingly enough, Marvel Comics released a series a couple of months after Doom Patrol’s debut, also featuring some people with “special” abilities led an eccentric genius in a wheelchair. Wonder what became of them?
• Elasti-Girl, portrayed by April Bowlby. Not to be confused with Helen Parr, Elastigirl (Pixar permission to use the name in the film), Rita Farr was an Olympic swimmer and actress who was exposed to some weird volcanic gases during a movie shoot in Africa. This causes her to change her size, but she can’t always control it. One of the coolest aspects of her portrayal in Titans was the color scheme and style of her dress as a shout out to the early Doom Patrol costumes.
• Negative Man, portrayed by Dwain Murphy and voiced by Matt Bomer. Larry Trainor was a test pilot exposed to radioactive field, and can now release a negatively charged spirit from his body. Unfortunately, this being also can’t be separated from his body for more than a minute, plus it is radioactive. Hence the H.G. Wells-style Invisible Man bandages.
• Robotman, portrayed by Jake Michaels and voiced Brenden Fraser. Race car driver Cliff Steele was in pretty-much fatal accident in the Indy 500. The Chief was able to recover Steele’s brain, and give him a shiny robotic body. Robotman is a favorite of both fans and writers, and he is the only member Doom Patrol to be part of the team in every version of the story (eve through the original Doom Patrol members killed off in 1968).
Not part of the founding members, but considered part of the original line up is the ultra-rich Steve Dayton, who builds himself a special helmet giving him a bevy of psionic abilities. He then calls himself “Mento,” to impress Rita, and it works. They get married, and adopt the recently orphaned Gar Logan (aka Beast Boy).
Gar’s origin is actually pretty bleak. While his parents were developing a way to bring back extinct creatures in Africa, he was infected with a rare illness known to kill everything except, the West African green monkey (Yes, that’s a real animal. No, it isn’t green). His father saved him by injecting him with a green monkey serum, but of course they resulted in his green, shape-shifting side effects. His parents were later killed in an accident, and Gar placed under the care of some not-so-nice folks. Long story short, The Doom Patrol somehow became involved, which is how he met his new “parents.”
Beast Boy’s origin is slightly different in the show, as it is The Chief who saves him. We also don’t meet the other member, Mento, in the Titans.
Other DC characters making an appearance in the near future include Jason Todd, now known as the antihero Red Hood, but will still be Batman’s current Robin, Donna Troy (Wonder Girl), and the original male version of Dove.
Doom Patrol is being set up to be a series of its own for DC Universe, hopefully in 2019, adding to the mix one of Morrison’s creations, Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), who has several personalities, each with their own super power. Also part of the show will be Cyborg (Jovian Wade), and one of the team’s original villains, Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk). The only big casting difference will be veteran actor Timothy Dalton replacing Bichir as Chief.
Here’s hoping Titans keeps up the momentum of the first four series, as the Doom Patrol is expected to return for several more episodes later this season.