Super-Heroism for Dummies

Guest Blog: Super-Heroism for Dummies

When a popular television series gets a film adaptation, there’s always a lot of hype. Unfortunately, the movie never quite manages to live up to the show it’s based on. But what if someone made a film adaptation of a series that was barely popular to begin with? In some ways, it can be a bigger risk, as low expectations can lead to a low box office turnout. But in other ways, it can expand its mediocre material into something grand. And “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” the superhero animated feature based on the children’s cartoon “Teen Titans Go!” makes something grand indeed.
Super-Heroism for Dummies

The film starts much like the show, with the Teen Titans being all “teen” and no “titan,” and clowning around while on a mission. The roles of the Titans are reprised by each of their original voice actors (from the parody cartoon and the beloved original Teen Titans tv show) such as Tara Strong, Greg Cipes, Khary Payton etc. But after meeting the Justice League, the Titans finally begin to realize what we already know; no one thinks of them as real super-heroes. Seeing how all the world’s most famous supers have had their own movies, they decide that the best way to be considered real and not “jokes” is to have a movie made about them. The only problems (aside from their goofball routine) is that they’re small fish in a vast ocean of supers and they lack an arch nemesis. One of their plans for getting more attention involves going back in time and stopping the other super-hero origins from happening. As expected it ends with disastrous results and is definitely among the funniest scenes in the film. One part that I found confusing is the fact that if Robin stopped Batman from existing, he too would cease to exist, but I guess such plot holes are irrelevant in a parody.

This brings me to the film’s antagonist, the sinister Slade (known better as Deathstroke in the comics). Voiced by Will Arnett who also produced the film, Slade makes his big entrance when breaking into a high tech facility. He’s then confronted by the Titans, who see him not only as a potential archenemy but also as another opportunity for name recognition. However, their first encounter ends up being less than dramatic, as they keep confusing Slade with Deadpool (despite the fact that Deadpool came after him and is from Marvel and not DC). Arnett’s Slade manages to be another great highlight of the movie. He may not be the Slade from the original Teen Titans cartoon (who was every bit as sinister as his name sounded) or even Deadpool, but his comedic blend of sly wickedness and zany hubris make him a great foil for the protagonists. Things really start to heat up later as Slade himself begins to see a worthy adversary in this band of miniature misfits.

Another remarkable thing about this film, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, is the animation. Not because it’s so much better than the show, but because it manages to stay almost the same (though it changes style briefly during the musical numbers). You’d think this was a disadvantage given how unimpressive the show’s visuals were, but I was shocked to see how smoothly it ran on the big screen. I’m not sure if this is because of the fast-paced action sequences which were all but absent in the show or just the compressed feeling of seeing it on your computer or phone. Either way, it makes it all the more impressive. Films like these remind us never to judge a book by its cover. It’s not only a great cartoon, it’s a great superhero film in its own right.

If you’re a nostalgic fan of the old Teen Titans and hated the reboot, I would definitely recommend it. Fun for the whole family, kids and adults, and super-hero fans of all ages.

About the Author: Isaac Boorstin is a working actor in New York who has done many productions in film and theater. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and a native New Yorker, he enjoys going to museums, writing movie reviews, gaming and staying involved in local politics.