The title of this week’s episode of DC Universe’s Titans is a dead giveaway of what it’s all about, but there’s much more to “Donna Troy” than the mere introduction of a classic comics heroine.
I sat down recently with actor Conor Leslie, who portrays Donna Troy on the streaming show, about what her character’s arrival will introduce to the world of Titans—and how her relationship with Wonder Woman is a fascinating inversion of the emotional dynamics between Batman and Robin.
io9: With Wonder Woman and the Amazons in the spotlight right now, what is it that you really wanted to bring to your portrayal of Donna Troy?
Conor Leslie: Wonder Woman and Gal Gadot’s popularity was definitely a huge factor in why I was excited to play Donna, and I think, if anything, I wanted to bring the idea that Donna’s different than Diana. There’s obviously a relation there and similarities, but the differences between them [are what] I wanted to honor. At the same time, though, she’s still very much an Amazon and there’s a graceful strength there.
io9: In your mind, who is Donna Troy within the world of Titans?
Leslie: To herself, she’s found a way to maintain her identity as Wonder Girl—as someone who was guided by Diana. She’s been able to do that for herself and forge a path to this life of hers that revolves around doing good in the world whether or not she’s wearing her [superhero] suit. That’s who she is for herself.
io9: And others?
Leslie: For others around her, she’s this grounding rock. I think that’s very much portrayed the first time we see her and we’ll continue to be seeing her getting involved with other characters, but first with Dick.
io9: What is it that made her leave the superhero life behind?
Leslie: We see so much of why Dick did, you know? The violence overwhelmed him and I think ultimately, he wants to feel control, but he’s out of control. But for Donna, how much of it she’s left behind is a little up in the air. She talks about how she’s still got her suit in the closet, she still talks to Diana, and I don’t think she feels like she has to make a decision right now.
io9: There’s this really interesting moment in the episode when Donna explains to Dick that neither of them are the same kinds of people their mentors are. What is it that sets Donna apart from Titans’ take on Wonder Woman?
Leslie: We’re still exploring that, but I think why Donna stopped wasn’t because she had to, but because it was a choice she was making. I think that what’s really incredible about the kind of relationship she has with Diana is that Diana’s giving her the permission to be her own person with her own identity. She doesn’t have to be Wonder Girl, but she can if she wants to be. Dick told himself he had to burn the suit, “I have to cut Bruce out of my life, I have to take the chip out of my arm”—everything has to be extreme. Donna’s just got a better reign on her life and her emotions.
The Wonder Woman we know obviously would never hesitate to empower another woman to choose how she wants to live her life. You see that in Donna having this world with her job in photography and living where she lives—it’s all so separate from the Titans because she’s said to herself “yeah, let’s try this out for a while.”
io9: What can you tell us about Donna’s familiarity with the symbols in Kory’s room and how, if at all that connection between them is going to pop up later on in the season?
Leslie: You will see Donna and Kory interact. Inevitably, that’s where things are going, but I can’t give anything away. Her dynamic with Kory is interesting. What’s interesting, though, is that I know in the comics Kory and Donna have such a cool friendship and people want to see that explored, but we’re trying to get our characters to that place a bit more organically.
io9: Any chances we’ll see Donna joining the Titans full stop?
Leslie: She’s been outside of this “team,” so to speak, for the whole season, and so she’s coming to them with fresh eyes.
Donna’s really the last puzzle piece of solving a lot of the mysteries the show’s set up, like Kory’s identity. Even though we see Donna the photographer with her cool, little apartment, she also has a lot of training and knowledge from her time with Diana. She’s not 12 anymore, she’s a grown woman and she has all this experience and wisdom that makes her able to piece things together, and it’ll be interesting to see that knowledge come into play.
For more, make sure you’re following us on our new Instagram @io9dotcom.