Justice League vs Teen Titans (2016) Review

Directed by: Sam Liu
Written by: Bryan Q. Miller, Alan Burnett
Starring: Rosario Dawson, Christopher Gorham, Shemar Moore, Jerry O’Connell, Jason O’Mara, Stuart Allan, Jake T. Austin, Taissa Farmiga, Brandon Soo Hoo, Kari Wahlgren, Jon Bernthal

(Originally written for Youtube Apr 3 2016)

The most interesting part about Justice League vs. Teen Titans is its title; a title given to it more for marketing purposes, than plot ones. And while the Titans do, technically, fight parts of the Justice League; this film is a Teen Titans story to the bone; and at less than 80-minutes, one that I doubt anyone involved was really that invested in.

We begin with a fight between the Justice League and the Legion of Doom, where Damian as Robin feels underutilized. After one of the Legion gets possessed by a demon, Damian decides to crash a bat-plane into him, which ends the fight, and prompts Batman to send his sidekick to join the Teen Titans so he can learn the value of teamwork. Once the Titans get involved, the story changes focus to one of their members, Raven, who may have some connection to the earlier demonic possession, and also attempts to bond with the anti-social Damian over daddy issues.

Fans of the Titans comics, or even the early 2000s cartoon should be glad to learn that Raven’s backstory is left un-changed in this adaptation, and even finds time for a succinct recap of her origin. However, those who have been following this most recent incarnation of the DC animated movies will probably be disappointed to have yet another film where Damian has to learn how to be not a huge jerk. This has got to be at least the 4th time we’ve seen pretty much this exact same arc, and it’s not done any better here than the previous go-arounds.

There’s nothing terrible about JL vs. TT, and I’d rather watch this four times in a row than DC’s other versus movie; but there’s nothing really of note either. Well, nothing positive of note. The movie does take a sizeable break from its already brief plot for a jarring musical scene at a carnival, which ends in, I shit you not, each of the Titans going through an anime magical-girl transformation. Actually, depending on your predisposition to that kind of thing, the magical-girl transformations are pretty amazing.

Aside from that, this is overall a sub-par showing for DC animated. These movies have never had the best dialogue, but it’s more stilted here than it’s been in previous films, and mostly dull voice performances don’t do much to improve it. Not even the fight sequences, which were some of the best part of the last DC animated picture, Batman: Bad Blood, are that entertaining, trading detailed choreography for heroes flying around, projecting different colors at each-other.

Speaking of Batman: Bad Blood, that film only came out a few months ago, and we’re due for the next DC animated feature; an adaptation of The Killing Joke in just another few months. Not that anyone who matters to these sorts of things is actually watching this review; but I think a quality-over-quantity approach would really do some good. No studio can be expected to push out three feature-ish length films in the span of half-a-year and expect to meet the very high bar DC has set for themselves with films like Batman: Under the Red Hood or The Flashpoint Paradox.