Starring: Miguel Ferrer, Sean Maher, Christina Ricci, Meg Foster, Kevin Smith
Written by: Ernie Altbacker, Marv Wolfman, George Perez
Directed by: Sam Liu
Run Time: 84 minutes
It may come as a surprise to modern comic book fans but at one time The Teen Titans rivaled the X-Men for popularity and sales. Like the X-Men, the Teen Titans got their start in the 1960s but had faded into relative obscurity until being revived by a popular, new creative team (writer Marv Wolfman and Artist George Perez) and revamping the team with new, fresher characters. The pinnacle of the Titan’s 1980s popularity came with the publication of “The Judas Contract” story arc in Titans issues #42–44 and Teen Titans Annual #3. It earned the Comics Buyer’s Guide Fan Award for “Favorite Comic Book Story” of 1984.
This is the second Teen Titans animated movie from DC and the follow-up to the lackluster “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” (2016). The film opens with a prologue showing how the Titans, then consisting of Dick Grayson as Robin, Speedy, Kid Flash, Beast Boy and Bumblebee, first encounter Starfire and rescue her from alien attackers seeking to take her back to her planet. Jump ahead 5 years…Dick Grayson is now Nightwing with Damian Wayne as Robin. The rest of the team consists of Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, and the newest member Terra (Ricci), who has the power to manipulate the very Earth.
The team is on the trail of a terrorist organization led by Brother Blood (Greg Henry) and his assistant, Mother Mayhem (Meg Foster). Blood has hired the mercenary Deathstroke (Miguel Ferrer) to capture the Titans so he can siphon off their powers for his own use. That’s about as much of the plot that can be revealed without giving away the film’s primary twist.
In terms of its base plot, the film is fairly close to the comic books. The film makes some changes to the lineup, removing Cyborg and Donna Troy and adding in Damian Wayne and the new Jamie Reyes version of Blue Beetle. There are a few other minor plot changes for expediency.
There’s a good deal more action in this film than “Justice League vs. Teen Titans” and there are some excellent fight sequences, particularly between Deathstroke and Damian Wayne and Nightwing. In fact, Deathstroke, voice by Miguel Ferrer who passed away in January, is the film’s strongest character and a good villain goes a long way to making a good superhero film. Ferrer hits the right notes of bold, brassiness, and toughness in his portrayal of the badass mercenary who has gone on to become one of the top villains in the DCU since being introduced in the Teen Titans in 1980.
Also strong was Sean Maher (Firefly) as Nightwing who brought some much needed leadership to the team of younger heroes. On the other hand Damian Wayne and Blue Beetle are just as aggravating as they were in the last film, to the point that you find yourself rooting for Deathstroke. Their constant bickering is overdone and a distraction. Look for Kevin Smith in a cameo role as himself.
The Teen Titans in the mid-1980s had a remarkable run of popularity although it was ultimately short-lived. As Wolfman and Perez moved on so did the fan’s interest in the title. While not a great film it’s certainly an improvement of the Titan’s first outing and a faithful adaptation of their most popular storyline.
Sneak Peek at at the next DC Universe Original Movie, Batman and Harley Quinn, featuring the talented creators and voice cast. (9:08)
Titanic Minds: Wolfman and Perez: This revealing documentary explores a creative partnership that has lasted decades as Marv Wolfman and George Pérez come together to discuss their careers and one of the most famous runs in Teen Titan history, The Judas Contract. (27:00)
Villains Rising—Deathstroke: When the super-soldier Deathstroke appears, the forces of good will be in the fight of their lives. This short featurette reveals the origin and unique abilities of this villain. (9:00)
From the DC Comics Vault – Two Bonus Cartoons from the Teen Titans animated series