The latest edition to the shared DC animated film universe, following off the heels of Jay Olivia’s Justice League Dark is the animated film Teen Titans Judas Contract.
The film is an adaptation of the classic 80s Marv Wolfman/ George Perez storyline of the same name. This movie has been in the making since 2007 when Warner Brothers Animation launched Superman: Doomsday as the first direct to DVD DC animated films that inspired a slew of many other adaptations. Prior to that, the Judas Contract storyline has been adapted within the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon and was executed in a kid-friendly fashion that shined sympathy on the character of Terra, excluding some dark content, while retaining the mature narrative. But After a decade and a few years, director Sam Liu has helped the movie finally come into fruition. Does this film live up to the same level of regard as the classic comic storyline? Does it hold well as a movie on its own?
The film focuses on Nightwing and Starfire leading Robin (Damian), Raven, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle and their latest member Terra as the current iteration of the Teen Titans. The Titans have been following the trail of Brother Blood and his suspicious cult activity. Somehow the criminal organization known as H.I.V.E. are associated with Blood and his movement. The Titans are pushed more than ever before, and what they face may tear them apart externally and internally.
It’s nice to have a good break from the staple Justice League team. After Justice League VS Teen Titans film, audiences were introduced to the Justice League Dark, which had their own successful film. With the current DC I animated universe it was only a matter of time that there would be a stand alone Teen Titans film. While this film is an adaption of the original comic storyline, this film definitely manages to have the spirit of the original comic storyline in regards to the more serious tone to the original comic. The film also manages to retain most of the characterizations of the characters from the original comic (ie: Nightwing, Starfire, Raven, and Terra), while Beast Boy is more in line with the 2003 animated series version in terms of personality. Robin (Damian) and Blue Beetle replace Wonder Girl (Donna Troy) and Cyborg from the original comic, but it doesn’t change too much from the comic. Despite the noticeable differences, and considering that this is a film set within the continuity of the DC animated universe, it retains enough aspects of the comic while also being its own thing as an adaption.
As a film, it’s definitely an entertaining film to watch and it manages to hold up as a modern update to the original comic storyline, complementing the original material while dressing it up with modern aesthetics. One of the best aspects of the film is the character relationships such as Nightwing and Starfire (which they nail to the T…..yes, the pun was intended). The conflicting nature of Terra and her relations with Deathstroke (Slade) are all touched upon appropriately. Brother Blood is more sinister in this movie than he is in the comics. The way he is utilized in this movie is actually something that should have been done in the comics, which is cool that the movie took some liberty to add their own flair. Aside from Blood, Deathstroke is as Savage as he always is. There are some little references here and there that are wonderful that’ll make long time fans will enjoy.
Complaints: What is very odd about this film is Beast Boy being in the flashback scene where he’s been with the Titans since the beginning. It’s just weird that it seems like he never aged compared to Grayson who went from Robin and in 5 years transitioned to Nightwing. One would think that in those 5 years Beastboy would have aged significantly but hasn’t actually had any kind of change. Sometimes some people look the same since their teens, maybe that is the case with Beast Boy.
Slade’s motivations in this movie is much more different from the source material. His motivations are more geared towards his feud with Robin based off of the events that happened in the Son of Batman film. That aspect may divide people who’ve grown up with the original material, may or may not like the film, depending on their preference.
There is a cool sneak peak for the upcoming Bruce Timm led animated Batman/Harley Quinn movie which delves into behind the scenes of the making of the movie and the synopsis of the movie. Kevin Conroy returns for the iconic role that he’s known for voicing as Batman, along with new Harley Quinn voice actor Melissa Rauch of Big Bang Theory, and Loren Lester makes a big return voicing as Nightwing ever since the original 90s Batman animated series.
Those who like Young Justice and the 2003 Teen Titans series will more likely like this film, and the general consensus who like the Teen Titans overall will enjoy this movie as well. It’s an entertaining film that gives the Teen Titans some good shine that is much needed. While Batman has more film property than anyone in the DC universe, it’s nice to see the Justice League Dark, and most especially the Teen Titans get a more mature take that matches the elements of the original comic storyline in a way that isn’t restricted by the usual TV regulations. It’s what made Young Justice a great series. While this film isn’t as emotional on the level of the 2003 animated series, it’s still a good adaption, and a good addition to the DC animated film universe.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is available Digital HD now, and on Blu-ray Deluxe Edition, Blu-ray Combo Pack and DVD beginning April 18