I’m a bit late to the party on this one. DC’s animated film, Justice League vs Teen Titans came out last year, but I’ve only just now gotten around to seeing it. I’ll admit that at least part of what got me to hold off on it was the title, particularly the “vs” part. I’ve mentioned it before, but I’m beyond fatigued with the concept of heroes fighting heroes. In order to make it work, at least one side has to be written out of character; see Batman being an unreasonable jerk in Batman v Superman, or Tony Stark siding with government in Captain America: Civil War. I’ll admit, the Marvel Cinematic Universe did it about as well as can be done, but more often than not, I don’t like the results.
Where Justice League vs Teen Titans works is that the title is a bit of a misnomer. Yes, there’s a scene where the members of the two teams fight, but the Justice League members are possessed at that point, so there’s no sacrifice to their characters. In truth, the movie is much more a Teen Titans story. If you’re someone who misses the old Teen Titans series, and isn’t happy with the radically different direction Teen Titans Go! has taken, I think you’ll more than get your fix here. The movie feels like a step back into that universe, and it works well.
If you’re not a fan of the Titans, there isn’t much for you here, as the Justice League is much more of a plot device than something that’s fleshed out. You’re only going to get a superficial handful of moments with Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and The Flash, and even Nightwing’s part in the story is limited to a brief car ride. Even within the Teen Titans group, it’s not all equal exposure. Blue Beetle gets some good action sequences, but is mostly in the background. Beast Boy is good for a couple gags, but disappears in spots. The real value in this movie is for fans of Damien Wayne and Raven. Their arcs carry the dramatic elements of the story. I should say, just in case you don’t expect it from a title involving the word “Teen,” that’s a big part of the target audience. Be prepared for puppy love and adolescent angst in all things relating to the Titans. You are warned.
I’ve read this movie will serve to set up the forthcoming adaptation of The Judas Contract. I doubt it’ll be a one-for-one portrayal of the comic, but if you’re not familiar with the source material, that’s a huge story arc that brings Deathstroke to the forefront of DC villains. If Justice League vs Teen Titans is any indication, I’m optimistic about how that chapter in the story will be handled. It’s definitely worth a rental for fans of the Titans, or big DC fans in general.