Titans season 3 properly addresses a Beast Boy problem that has lingered since the very first season. Ryan Potter’s portrayal of Beast Boy has been an undoubted highlight of Titans since the live-action DC show premiered in 2018, but there’s an elephant in the room (or not in the room) when it comes to Gar’s powers. In the DC comic books, Beast Boy’s traditional abilities allow him to transform into any animal he’s seen, adopting the corresponding attributes of each. In Titans, however, Gar displays a very limited range. He’s really good at tigers, had a brief dalliance as a snake, and sometimes just turns green and toothy, but that’s more or less the extent of his shape-shifting repertoire.


In real life, cost of CGI is obviously the big stumbling block – the same reason Game of Thrones‘ dragons would be written out for half a season. Undoubtedly, Titans would love to turn Ryan Potter into a different animal every week, but there’s simply not the budget for such extensive CGI. That’s understandable enough, but Titans never properly explained Beast Boy’s overly specific set of skills in canon, with season 1’s “Doom Patrol” merely speculating the issue was “psychological,” without addressing why he very occasionally whips out new animals, like snakes and bats.

Thankfully, Titans season 3 has taken steps to remedy that. In the season premiere, a lonely Gar complains to himself over popcorn and animal YouTube videos, muttering, ““you can be any animal you want, just believe in yourself…” not sure if it really works thatway.” This scene acknowledged the Titans Beast Boy issue, but season 3, episode 12 (“Prodigal”) actually explains Gar’s limits in tangible terms.

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After Nightwing’s fleeting brush with death, Gar found himself surrounded by bats, not for the first time this season. Suddenly, he was able to assume a flappy little blood-sucking form, and compel the creatures to carry Dick Grayson to the safety of a nearby Lazarus pit. Explaining the feat to Raven, Beast Boy says, “These new changes, they always happen when I’m afraid… my ability to change is locked behind a door. Fear cracks it open for a brief moment, and then it just slams shut again. I know I can do more.”

This offers way more information than Titans season 1. Gar’s speech beside the Lazarus pit finally gives solid in-universe reasoning behind his lack of transformations, beyond just “CGI is expensive.” Fear as a trigger for Beast Boy’s power also makes sense – he became a snake during an intense battle with Trigon in Titans season 2, and hulked-out when the other Titans were verbally sparring in the Bat-cave. Each new transformation came about when Gar was afraid of losing his Titans family, either to an inter-dimensional demon, a rogue crimson menace, or just a super-intense bickering session. The idea of fear opening a “locked door” goes even further, bringing Titans‘ Beast Boy closer to his comic-authentic powers. The conversation with Raven hints that Gar does have a full range of animal transformations lurking beneath the surface, but there’s a mental barrier that only swings open during extreme situations. It’s way more logical than just making Beast Boy Titans‘ very own Joe Exotic.

The potential pitfall Titans now faces is keeping Gar’s powers consistent. The HBO Max series has taken the first major step by laying out the mechanics behind Beast Boy’s shape-shifting abilities, but now viewers know fear is the all-important ingredient. This means any time Gar finds himself in a frightening position in future, the possibility for new transformations will be hanging in the air like stale cat pee. And if Beast Boy goes through one scary situation after another without unlocking fresh creature caricatures, the same old questions might arise once again. For now, however, Titans season 3 had made a much-needed improvement to Beast Boy.

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