2016 was the year that tore fandoms apart! Batman v Superman, Captain America vs Iron Man, and Justice League vs Teen Titans. In the wake of Teen Titan Go! To The Movies hitting theaters later this month, marking this as the Titans’ first big screen debut, let’s throw it back to when they made their debut in the DC Animated Film Universe, doing so in a big way by squaring off with the Justice League! Justice League vs Teen Titans is a great time for DC fans, whether hardcore or casual, as it gives everyone’s favourite heroes and equal amount of screen time, as well as deliver some fan service for fans of the Teen Titans tv show circa 2003-2006.

We start off our 79 minute movie ride with the Justice League giving the Legion of Doom an ass whooping. We’re talking Batman (Jason O’Mara), Wonder Woman (Rosario Dawson), Superman (Jerry O’Connell), Flash (Christopher Gorham) and Cyborg (Shear Moore) facing off against Lex Luthor, Toymaster, Cheetah, Solomon Grundy, and Weather Wizard. After tossing most LOD member aside like tissue paper, the Justice League still have to get a hold of Weather Wizard. Flash is able to dodge Weather Wizard’s hail balls, and grab his scepter, which disarms him of his powers. Wonder Woman grabs a hold of him with the lasso of truth. It is then a dark, red-lined shadow consumes Weather Wizard into an OP, demon-like figure. All 5 members of the Justice League really struggle with whatever has taken over Weather Wizard’s body, which is why Damian Wayne aka Batman’s son aka Robin (Stuart Allan) decides to take matters into his own hands and drives a private jet with bombs right into the Weather Wizard. The demon flees Weather Wizard’s body, leaving (in Batman’s words), “An empty shell.” Batman decides to shoot down Robin’s ego and thinks it’s time to teach him the values of teamwork and working well with others.

The next day, Dick Grayson aka Nightwing (Sean Maher) drives Damian to the Titans Tower, where he will meet the in-universe version of the Teen Titans; Starfire (Kari Wahlgren), Beastboy (Brandon Soo Hoo), Blue Beetle (Jake T. Austin), and Raven (Taissa Farmiga). Since Damian was raised in the himalayas by Rah’s Al Ghoul, training and being sculpted into a weapon, and he is the blood son of Batman, he really does not play well with others. This results in him being blasted but Blue Beetle’s alien armour , and severely injured. At least until Raven heals him. Starfire, who is the leader of the Titans, decides that the team needs a fun night out, for bonding purposes. so they go to the fair. Meanwhile, Superman goes on a movie date with Wonder Woman and gets consumed by the demon, so he pushes Wonder Woman away and flies off to tend to his demon tasks. Back to the Titans’ adventures, they have fun playing carnival games and going on the rides. This experience is really something that they all needed as a team as they see the humanity in Robin, as well as destress from their inner pains and worries. During a dance battle between Beastly and Robin, a voice calls out to Raven, for her to go to a nearby hill. When she is there she meets with many demons and a hologram of her evil, satanic father, Trigon (Jon Bernthal). He tells her he will soon break free of his chains and return to take over Earth and the rest of the universe. The demons surrounding Raven then attack. The Titans assemble, when Raven says, “Titans GO!” the first piece of fan service. After an epic fight, not too grand because we are halfway through the movie, but really entertaining.

The entire Titans team have no idea what they just fought or why the demons were attacking, except for Raven, so she takes them to the ruins of her once home planet Azarath to explain her evil father, her poor judgement mother, and basically her whole life. I think Infinity War pulled this scene out for inspiration when Thanos was on the ruins of Titan explaining why it became so wrecked. Raven uses magic (not the reality gem from her infinity gantlet) to give the Titans a simulation of her life thus far and why her father is out to get her. Basically it’s because she is half demon, half human (thanks to her mother) so Trigon needs her to access Earth so he can takeover and rule. This is one of the movie’s most outstanding scenes because we get to see the origin story of Raven, who is a very prominent member of the Teen Titans and is very interesting to delve into and explore because she is very powerful yet so young. Raven has also been very mysterious and to her self, so it was very refreshing to see her open up on command when the Titans demand an explanation.

They travel back to Titans Tower via Raven’s portal, where they are greeted by Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg and Flash. They demand that Raven needs to go with them, but the Titans demand that Raven stays with them. The two teams are battle ready, about to give us the movie that was promised. Then the demon shadow takes over Wonder Woman, Flash and Cyborg (Batman gases himself out). So it’s not exactly the Justice League because they are not in command of their mind, and it’s only 3/5 members, but it’s still a spectacle. The Titans, being that they’re teenagers, get their asses handed to them although they put up a good fight. Raven sacrificed herself to save her friends from death. The Justice League demon squad open a portal to go to the demon world, but Blue Beetle plugs a virus stick into cyborg last minute, ridding him of the demon. Cyborg knocks out.

When Batman and Cyborg recovers they make a plan to go into the demon world to save the Justice League and stop Trigon. We get another helping of fan service here because Cyborg will actually work closely with the Teen Titans, as he was a prominent member of the team in both Teen Titans tv series. There’s a lot of action and fighting from here on out, with the Teen Titans saving Superman, Flash, and Wonder Woman (respectively) and stopping Trigon from taking over Earth. I mean, he does get on Earth after Raven opens the portal for him, but he is stopped, and the heroes end the day with a pizza dinner.

Story wise, this movie was alright. I’ll admit, watching the Teen Titans and Justice League prepare to fight each other was riveting, then as soon as the demons took over their bodies it was a letdown. Like mentioned before, this movie is called Justice League vs Teen Titans, not ‘Teen Titans and Justice League in Demon Dilemma’. It really felt like cheating and the payoff wasn’t there. This movie was like fast food, it satisfies short term, but not long term, which is understandable because it is a cartoon, 79 minute movie at the end of the day. Also the plot was really weak. I understand the focus was supposed to be about Raven, and Raven’s dad and his intentions. However, it felt like watching another Ghostbusters movie.

Animation wise this movie was 10/10. Although they flop in the box office, DC knows how to make great animated movies and the animation style adds to the spectacle of the continuity that they have/are currently developing in their shared universe of films. The graphics are well animated, and the attention to detail is impeccable. Some examples are the movement of capes, facial expressions under the mask, the “Sailor Moon” style of the Teen Titans’ suit ups, and Beast Boys morphings. And of course the explosions and smoke bombs were well done, but that should be a given for any superhero movie of any scale.

TL;DR Justice League vs Teen Titans is a great watch, although the title promises more than what is given. With that aside, it’s a great addition to the DC Animated Movie Universe and the start of something new as Teen Titans were a property that DC and WB had yet to include in their animated movie universe.

Grade: B

Vishal Lilman
vmlilman@yahoo.ca

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