It might be a sign of the crazy world we live in, but here’s a sentence nobody ever expected to see in 2018:
Donna Troy is the most well adjusted, fully realized character on Titans.
It’s true. Widowed, magical duplicate, savior of the Titans of Myth, mother to Lord Chaos, Donna Troy/Wonder Girl/Troia has it together better than anyone on the television incarnation of Titans. So much of that comes from Conor Leslie (The Man in the High Castle), who stepped into the role in episode 8.
“She is an incredibly strong, independent force to be reckoned with, somebody who doesn’t operate from a place of fear,” Leslie told us. “And inevitably, I think, a rock to everyone around her, including Dick. And I love her.”
The love shows the moment she hits the screen. Eight episodes in, Titans is turning into a meditation on the various ways superheroics can screw up a teenage mind, starting with Batman’s ultraviolence and the darkness it’s imbued Dick Grayson with. But teenage Wonder Girl, shown in flashback interacting with young Robin at Wayne Manor, is a breath of fresh air, and Leslie is positively gleeful when she arrives later on. This contrast is deliberate, she told us. “The reason she didn’t want to do this is clearly, Wonder Woman taught her a way of helping people, and a way of being her own identity without violence. And that’s all Dick knows.”
Adult Donna has, like Dick, stepped away from her costumed alter ego. But unlike Dick, still prone to sweeping dramatics when condemning the life he is trying to leave, Donna is maintaining a connection to her youth. She keeps the costume in her closet, texts with Diana, and lets Dick in her life without a second thought. But she’s adapted her approach: she’s no longer trying to punch evil to death, one bad guy at a time. “She still, underneath, wants to help people and save people. She just doesn’t want to be the person in front of the camera doing it,” said Leslie. Instead, she’s pursuing systemic change through photojournalism. She’s got a gallery opening showing off her photos from apparently conflict-riven locales, and her reputation and connections bring her in contact with an apparent poaching ring.
“So when Dick kind of comes in and messes it up,” Leslie said, “she’s pretty pissed. She’s figured it out, who’s messing with that.” But there’s a conscious choice not to use her physical abilities against these people, to use her photography skills to make broader change rather than fighting who’s directly in front of them.
That’s not to say she didn’t get to flex her stunt muscles a little bit. This episode had her showing off some of her Wonder Girl abilities, and Leslie promises more to come in subsequent episodes. “You will get to see Wonder Girl elements seep through. And you’ll see the stuff that, you’ll see some of what we’ve come to love as her super power, Wonder Girlness.” Stunt coordinating around Donna’s super strength was particularly entertaining, working through how someone who can punch a car through a wall might fight non-powered individuals and move in a confined space. But the best part, she teased, was getting to see how Donna utilized her Wonder Girl accessories.
As for when we get to see more of Conor Leslie as Donna Troy, she will obviously play a bigger role in the rest of the season. But on the question of whether she’ll be back for Titans season 2 or not, Conor was evasive. “Maybe,” she told us.