When I wrote my recent review of TITANS VOL. 1, I disclosed at the beginning of that piece that I have a deep abiding love for the Teen Titans that has existed since I was a young child. The first comic I bought on my own was NEW TEEN TITANS #39 which features the classic Teen Titans team and still has Terra on the team masquerading as an ally to the rest of her peers. Just so you know where I am coming from!
The DC animated movies have a shared continuity that has existed since the FLASHPOINT adaptation, with a few exceptions here and there. (Justice League: Gods and Monsters, for example, is a strictly Elseworlds tale and is also super awesome, you should totally watch it.) In recent movies, characters beyond the Justice League have started to be folded into this version of the mythology—notably a version of the Teen Titans! The structure of the team itself strikes a good balance between the classic New Teen Titans lineup (with Nightwing, Starfire, Raven and Beast Boy), and more contemporary members (Jaime Reyes’ Blue Beetle, Damian Wayne as voiced by Stuart Allan), with the impressive addition of Christina Ricci as Terra. The bridging of the gap between two major generations of Teen Titans not only helps to establish that this is a unique universe that this adaptation is taking place in, but it will hopefully help to welcome in Titans fans across generations.
In the comics, THE JUDAS CONTRACT focuses on the revelation of Terra’s betrayal of the Teen Titans and her true alliance—and complicated relationship—with Miguel Ferrer’s Deathstroke (Slade Wilson), and the animated Teen Titans: The Judas Contract movie shares this focus. While the locations are updated and the technology sleeker, the emotional core of the story remains the same. Tara Markov struggles with not only controlling her power to control earth, but to overcome the abuse she suffered at the hands of her family and her village and learn how to trust the people who actually want to help her the most.
This update of The Judas Contract probably illustrates this conflict and the ultimate weakness in her character by contrasting her struggle with Jaime’s. In the movie Jaime’s family isn’t sure how to feel about losing their son to his career as a super hero and, equally, to the scarab on his back. Rather than give into despair at potential feelings of abandonment, Jaime (Jake T. Austin), focuses on the strengths of the relationships that existed before his life was changed forever and seek to provide understanding to his parents. Jaime’s portrayal in the movie really illustrates the fact that his character would be a potentially juicy one to explore in a television show.
Firefly’s Sean Maher reprises his role as Dick Grayson and gets a chance to live out two important aspects of the character’s classic story. First, fans get to see Dick and Koriand’r (played by Kari Wahlgren), in a more mature relationship than we ever have before (cue: memories from the first Teen Titans cartoon), and they even get engaged toward the end of the movie. Starfire and Nightwing’s wedding is a pretty big event in the comic books and that could provide interesting fodder for any of the films coming up. Second, we finally get to see the Nightwing / Deathstroke fight in a movie! Again, a dialed back version of this was put on screen during the original Teen Titans animated series, but nothing like this before. After the amazing portrayal of Slade Wilson on Arrow, it’s very cool to see this particular animated version as vicious as he was meant to be.
Teen Titans: The Judas Contract excels during the movie’s fight scenes. The team finds themselves doing battle not only with Deathstroke, the Terminator, but with Brother Blood and his acolytes (yet another classic New Teen Titans foe), and the animation gets to shine as a result. Each character gets moves well suited to their respective abilities and training that helps them to stand out when their moment comes. All of the DC animated movies have important combat scenes as befits the super hero medium, to be sure, and while Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is no different, it is wonderful in a way that hasn’t been seen before.
I would also encourage viewers to pay special attention to Beast Boy (voiced by Brandon Soo Hoo), who brings a lot of heart and emotion to the movie in the way that only Gar Logan can. His feelings for Terra are obvious and tragic in turn. This is a wonderful example of some strong, subtle writing in the movie.
Fans of the Teen Titans in any and all of their incarnations are sure to enjoy Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. It is a well-executed adaptation of one of the most important comic book stories of all time. You definitely need to go see it! If you’ve already had a chance to watch, let me know what you loved the most in the comments below—it was Beast Boy, right?
To read our DC Comics 101 about why the Judas Contract comic is so important, click here.
Ashley V. Robinson writes about The Flash as a part of the #DCTV Couch Club and Rebirth here on DCComics.com. You can find her on Twitter at @AshleyVRobinson and on the Jawiin YouTube channel. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD.