Titans on HBO Max has been doing well in the superhero world regarding representation. They have a diverse group of main actors. Chella Man, who is deaf and trans, plays Jericho in Season 2, and Savannah Welch, who has a disability, plays Barbara Gordon/Oracle in Season 3. Titans have stepped up its game by giving Tim Drake (Jay Lycurgo) and Bernard Fitzmartin (James Scully) an adorable gay relationship in Season 4.
Titans Season 4 has had a few relationships over the years, especially for Brenton Thwaites’s character, Dick Grayson/Nightwing, who seems to have been with almost every woman on the show. Dick and Kory Anders/Starfire (Anna Diop) have been on and off for a while, but it’s clear that this is the endgame. Their relationship felt rushed in the first season of Titans, but it became much more friendly in the fourth season. Another couple was Hank Hall/Hawk (Alan Ritchson) and Dawn Granger/Dove (Minka Kelly). Their relationship grew over one great episode, but they were a toxic and dysfunctional pair by the time Hank was killed. Almost all main characters have dated at some point, but Titans needed a slow, cute romance, and Tim and Bernard give us that.
‘Titans’ Romance Takes Inspiration from the Comics
Tim Drake, also known as the third Robin, and Bernard Dowd are a couple in the comics, but they have only been together for a short time. Before that, Tim was with Stephanie Brown, a superhero. But in Batman: Urban Legends #6, written by Meghan Fitzmartin and Belén Ortega, Tim met up with an old school friend named Bernard and discovered something new about himself. The Titans showrunners skipped the straight romance to give Tim his first love interest, and we’re already rooting for these two kids.
Bernard on Titans is very different from how he was in the comics. For one thing, his last name isn’t the same. It’s Fitzmartin, which seems to be a tribute to Meghan Fitzmartin, who wrote Batman: Urban Legends #6. The writers of Titans thought they could trick us into thinking he was a different character, but from the moment they met, it was clear that Bernard and Tim knew each other. In the comics, Bernard is a student and a teenager who loves superheroes, especially the third Robin, who saves him from a cult. Like Tim, Bernard is obsessed with superheroes. In the first episode of the fourth season of Titans, Bernard is asked to meet the team because he is the Director of Special Projects at S.T.A.R. Laboratories. Tim can’t take his eyes off him when he says his name. Even though Tim and Bernard seem about the same age, Dick was young when he became a superhero, so Bernard likely is a contemporary of Dick’s or some young super-genius administrator.
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Tim And Bernard Have Natural Chemistry In ‘Titans’
Tim and Bernard don’t have much screen time on Titans because the cast is growing, but what they have had so far has shown that they work well together. Tim is a nerd who loves superheroes, and Bernard is a nerd who works with superheroes for a living. If it wasn’t already clear, how they look at each other, tease each other, and talk about video games proves they are a perfect match.
Tim thinks it’s the Robin suit when Dick Grayson tells him that Bernard and his team have made something special for him, but it’s a bo-staff. It’s embarrassing and funny, but Bernard doesn’t seem to care about Tim’s situation. Instead, he gives Tim his phone number, just in case Tim needs help. Soon, Tim will ask Conner Kent (Joshua Orpin) to take pictures of him posing with that bo-staff as a “thank you” to Bernard. Yeah, Tim’s reason doesn’t work with anyone.
Tim and Bernard’s talk in Titans are short but easygoing as if it were nothing. The fact that Lycurgo and Scully get along well helps. Tim’s training with the bo-staff, which almost never leaves his side, is supervised by Bernard. Tim is self-conscious about looking “like an idiot” while training with a V.R. set, but Bernard quickly puts him at ease by telling him how silly he looks, making lateral lunges. Tim is a new superhero, so he always doubts himself and his team’s faith in him. Tim thinks he’s being iced out because he has to watch the video feeds when the Titans are holed up in S.T.A.R. Labs to protect Sebastian Sanger/Brother Blood (Joseph Morgan). Tim says, “Everyone with no skills should hide behind the monitors.” Since Bernard has the same job, he doesn’t take that too much to heart. But he also tries to give Tim a different point of view. Being a superhero is hard work that requires making sacrifices. Bernard has known Dick and other superheroes for a long time, so he has seen this firsthand. He has more experience in this area, if not in the field than Tim does, and he knows how to make a big decision like this one carefully. Bernard gives Tim a confidence boost by telling him that he believes in him and that he will find his “moment” in life.
Then, a huge magical snake almost eats them. Twice. And just in the nick of time, Tim saves Bernard from that snake. Twice. Why should we be surprised that Bernard is totally in love with Tim’s bravery? One minute, Tim isn’t sure about his superhero skills; the next, he can use his bo-staff to catch a magical snake. Tim and Bernard don’t know each other very well, but they look out for each other. Tim does this with his physical skills, and Bernard does it with his pep talks.
‘Titans’ Masters The Slow Burn
The Titans writers also don’t know ahead of time whether or not the two will kiss. After the first snake attack, Tim and Bernard are only a few inches apart at one point and could have kissed. But that would have been a quick kiss that didn’t feel like it was earned. Tim’s moment of heroism comes later, when he realizes how much Bernard appreciates the fact that Tim saved his life. Just when the audience is thinking, “Just kiss already!” Tim comes along and does just that. That’s what we call a romantic gesture.
Even if they don’t do anything that could kill them, there are brief moments in Season 4 of Titans where the dialogue makes it seem like there’s more going on between them than we see. In Episode 4, Bernard asks Tim if he got his message, and Tim says he’s been busy and didn’t have time to answer. But Bernard isn’t upset that Tim can’t talk because of his “superhero stuff.” Already, he’s a good boyfriend.
Even though they haven’t had much time together on Titans, Tim and Bernard have had time to get to know each other. There have been a lot of sneaky looks and awkwardness around each other, but Episode 5 brings it all together with a well-deserved kiss. It’s important that Titans let the relationship between the characters grow over time so that the audience is already rooting for them to be together before Tim has his “moment.” The slow-burning relationship between Tim and Bernard in Titans is a nice change from how superhero stories usually handle their romantic subplots. Let’s hope that this version of Bernard doesn’t get taken by a cult and that these two Titans fans can enjoy their relationship.
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Jessa Martin is the author of Nogmagazine, A professional in writing by day, and novelist by night, she received her bachelor of arts in film from Howard University and her master of arts in media studies from the New School. A Brooklyn native, she is a lover of naps, cookie dough, and beaches, currently residing in the borough she loves, most likely multitasking.