While Batman and Superman are busy duking it out on the big screen, Justice League vs. Teen Titans is bringing another epic rumble to your home theater. The film is the latest installment in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies continuity that sees Damian Wayne’s continued origin story finally cross over with the main Justice League characters and their arcs.
Following a reckless act by Damian/Robin (Stuart Allan) that leaves the League searching for answers, Batman (Jason O’Mara) decides Damian is sorely in need of a lesson in teamwork and sends him to join the Teen Titans. Although furious to be saddled with others he deems inferior, Damian finds the Titans caught in the crossfire when the evil Trigon sets his sites on our dimension and must put his faith in his new team to defeat the powerful demon and protect his new friends.
Justice League vs. Teen Titans is one of the more light films in the DC Universe Animated Original Movies line, which was a breath of fresh air after all the darkness in the previous animated films and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in cinemas.This is by no means a kiddie flick, but it’s an undeniably a step towards something more like the Justice League: Unlimited series.
Damian Wayne’s origin story continues to take center stage in the Batman side of this continuity, and once again is handled with great care. The progression to joining the Titans comes at a perfect time after the events of Batman: Bad Blood and was the perfect jumping off point to bring the Batman films into the main Justice League story lines. Stuart Allan has really made the role his own, and I can’t help but hear his voice whenever I read Damian in the comics now.
Raven (American Horror Story‘s Taissa Farmiga) also gets a main spotlight due to a budding friendship (romance?) with Robin and the fact that her dad is, you know, Trigon himself. Farmiga believably brings the introverted loner to life built on good chemistry with Allan, but at times the character can be a bit too dour for her own good. Nobody likes a wet blanket, especially with a team like the Titans.
Raven’s father Trigon, played by The Punisher himself Jon Bernthal, is a more out there, magical villain for the Justice League to fight, but a good choice of villain given Trigon’s ties to Raven. Bernthal’s voice has heavy effects added on to it, but occasionally the actor’s patented anger comes through for the character, giving him both a scary sound and a realistic rage.
The story builds solid tension leading up to the confrontation between the Justice League and the Titans, and both sides have a legitimate reason to stand their ground. The biggest shame is that even though the title is Justice League vs. Teen Titans, the actual battle doesn’t last that long and isn’t even in the film’s climax. Things get handled rather fast and the two teams are off together to face down their foe. There’s also a few cringe-inducing music montages featuring some bad emo/alt rock bands, but I forgave them because they were used during scenes focusing on the teenage aspect of the characters.
Another minor gripe I have was the over-sexualization of Starfire (Kari Wahlgren) in more than one instance throughout the film. In the current comics, she’s a very sexual being, so that would be understandable, but this version is a much sweeter incarnation more akin to the Teen Titans and Teen Titans Go! animated versions, only a bit older and more badass as leader of the team. But more than once in this film, she’s seen nearly naked in an objectified way that felt too pervy and over the line.
Aside from that, there’s a ton to love in Justice League vs. Teen Titans, including the great cast with all your returning favorite actors including Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Christopher Gorham as The Flash, Shemar Moore as Cyborg, Jerry O’Connell as Superman, Jason O’Mara as Batman, and Sean Maher as Nightwing.
The Titans themselves have a more fun and unique lineup in this incarnation on top of returning favorites Beast Boy (Brandon Soo Hoo), Starfire, Raven, with the first ever appearance of Robin in the group alongside new addition Blue Beetle (Jake T. Austin).
Warner Bros. once again provides a fairly solid array of special features to supplement the beautiful Blu-Ray version of the film. Growing Up Titan is the longest feature and is a good history lesson on the Titans for those unfamiliar. There’s also two Heroes and Villians segments – one featuring Raven and one featuring Trigon – that are about a ten minute character profile on these two integral characters from this film.
One of the biggest selling points of this Blu-Ray will be the ten minute preview of probably one of the most anticipated DC Animated Original Movies yet: Batman: The Killing Joke. Don’t get too excited, it’s more storyboards and a few actual bits of footage, but it’s still great to see nonetheless. Lastly, we have the usual From the Vault additions, this time featuring the episodes Batman: The Brave and the Bold‘s Sidekicks Assemble! and the original Teen Titans episode The Prophecy.
Refreshingly lighter, but still a mature film, Justice League vs. Teen Titans provides solid superhero spectacle with a wealth of characters, all the while continuing to expand the impressively growing universe of their animated movie continuity and providing yet another solid showcase for Damian Wayne.