By Will Barber Taylor
After his volatility botches a Justice League mission. Robin/Damain Wayne is sent to work with The Teen Titans, a band of young heroes. The young team must step up to face Trigon after he possesses the League and threatens to conquer the world.
So far this year, I’ve seen two DC “versus” movies. The first being Zack Snyder’s train wreck of a film that is Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The second is the titular film of this review. Everything that Dawn of Justice does wrong; flawed characterisation, idiotic plot and convoluted subplot cannot be seen in Justice League vs Teen Titans. To put it plainly, Justice League vs Teen Titans is the type of film the DC Extended Universe should be making.
Beginning with the Justice League fighting the Legion of Doom, Justice League vs Teen Titans shows the Justice League working as a team, demonstrating that unlike Snyder’s iteration, the JL work together out of choice rather than being forced together. The opening sequence also helps to express that the Justice League don’t have to be dark and brooding; there is banter between Superman and Batman which demonstrates that they are friends as well as team mates – giving the audience greater investment in the characters. They are more like real people because they interact with one another in way that actual humans do, unlike Snyder’s Batman and Superman who are merely antagonistic to one another.
Following Damien disobeying one of his father’s instructions whilst serving alongside the Justice League, he is sent to spend time with the Teen Titans. Whilst doing this, Damien develops as a character. Viewers of previous animated films have often complained about Damien coming off as a one sided character – arrogant and without any other sides to him. Yet in Justice League vs Teen Titans he is shown to have a sense of responsibility not just to himself but to his fellow team members; it is he who says that they cannot let Raven face Trigon alone and he who says that Raven shouldn’t exile herself to save humanity. Damien’s commitment to his team members and his statement at the end of the film that he’s truly a “Teen Titan” shows that through the course of the film he has developed from a brooding introvert into a more rounded, likeable character.
Another part of the film that stands out is that it is funny. Beast Boy’s dance off sequence with Damien is only one of the many comic highlights of the film; Batman’s reaction to Superman and the Flash’s suggestion as to how to deal with Damien are equally comic. The mixture of a light tone with a darker one helps make the film feel balanced. It never slips one way or the other tonally making it a better reflection of the comic books it takes inspiration from and also of real life. Whilst realism has been the watchword of modern superhero films, Marvel is one of the few studios that understands that a mixture of a comic and dramatic tone make for the film to be truly “realistic”. Life is not black and white; there are shades of drama, sadness, comedy and happiness. To truly represent a realistic scenario as Justice League vs Teen Titans does you have to be balanced.
Overall, Justice League vs Teen Titans is a fun, entertaining and ultimately brilliant new addition to the DC Universe Animated Original movie range. It gives each of its main characters good characterisation, fun moments and a license to enjoy themselves, something that has been missing from these films for a while.