In the 1980’s, DC was fairly consistently behind Marvel in sales. Then, George Perez and Marv Wolfman came out with a book that actually rivaled Marvel’s top seller, the X-Men. With a few sidekicks, one obscure character, and three new ones, the New Teen Titans became a runaway hit, even crossing over with the X-Men when Marvel and DC were still doing those.
Unlike a lot of other heroes, the Titans didn’t get much success outside the comics. There were several reasons for this, including the dread nemesis of many fandoms: licensing rights. The original lineup had characters associated with Batman, Wonder Woman, and Flash, with other members of the expanded team tied to Aquaman and Green Arrow.
While better known (and less complicated) heroes got movies, the Titans stayed obscure. Then, in 2003, they got a decent cartoon. Based loosely on the New Teen Titans (minus Kid Flash and Wonder Girl), the show ran for three seasons, and eventually even included Kid Flash. Wonder Girl had to settle for a picture in the background of one scene. For whatever reason, the show was cancelled and relaunched as Teen Titans Go! It went from a decent hero show to a series of jokes aimed at a grade school audience. The “Teen” part of the name was never less accurate.
Teen Titans Go! started running in 2013. Heroism was replaced by hanging around, and the general intelligence of the show and plots dropped along with the ages of the characters. Eventually, the show got an animated movie, in the same spirit of the show: Teen Titans Go! To The Movies. The entire movie revolves around in-jokes about superhero movies, and the team’s (mostly Robin’s) desire to be in one. The villain (aside from the writers) is Deathstroke the Terminator, a major foe of the team in the comics. Here, he’s “Slade,” I suppose because Deathstroke is too scary for the Toddler Titans audience. After being mocked by other heroes, the team gets their egos (again, mostly Robin’s) played on for an elaborate plot involving movies with hidden mind control. The kids eventually manage to win and impress the other heroes. Interestingly, there’s a mid-credit scene with the Teen Titans characters, not the Go ones, that says they might have found a way back.
What I liked: I’ll give credit for some clever in-jokes, like Stan Lee doing a cameo even though it’s a DC movie, and Nicolas Cage voicing Superman (Cage was talked about for a Superman movie that never happened). The scene with the Teen Titans gave me some minor hope, although I suspect it was a joke. Points to Kirsten Bell for voicing one of the characters.
What I didn’t: As you can likely tell from the review, I never liked this version of the team. I’ll grant I’m amused by the fact that that they spend so much time bemoaning being seen as jokes when this cartoon is likely the biggest reason why. There’s some great irony in Robin being anguished in the movie about Alfred getting a movie before him, since an Alfred tv show was recently announced.
If you’re a fan of the series, I suspect you’ll like the movie. I’m not. I didn’t. I’ll give this a very low 2 out of 5, saved by some of the movie comments and some of the cast.