As a fan of the original Teen Titans animated series, I was deeply sceptical of “Teen Titans Go!” when it first aired. Silly, childish and cutesy, it seemed like Cartoon Network trashing something that had been great. Slowly, though, and thanks to the Cragglings embracing it, I began to enjoy it, especially as it revealed its anarchic, subversively irreverent take on the DC universe – at the height of its own self-importance in the movie-verse. It even turned that witheringly cynical eye on itself in the terrific episode “The Fourth Wall” where the Titans find out not only that they’re a TV show but that they used to be a ‘better’ more critically acclaimed TV show. Defiantly idiosyncratic, the series is by turns hilarious, clever, grimly sardonic and hugely diverse in its approach, all the while skewering the superhero genre and DC universe in particular with some genius level trolling and self-commentary.
The film, fittingly, continues this wilfully disrespectful and chaotic approach to storytelling, bulldozing through the fourth wall as Robin and the rest of the Titans chase their dream of being in a superhero movie. Trolling the DCEU’s tendency to announce ever more tenuous projects years and years in advance hard, the film pokes fun at every convention of the genre and the film industry, including self-aware cameos by the likes of Stan Lee and a great joke at the expense of Shia LaBeouf (who unfortunately doesn’t play himself).
Who’d have guessed that – Deathstroke jokes aside – DC would find it’s answer to Deadpool’s movie success in this animated kids show spin-off? The Titans even get their own ‘kill the DC universe’ sequence as they head back in time to undo the origin stories of DC’s best and brightest to bump themselves up the priority list. Despite the mockery, there’s a real affection and knowledge of DC’s starred history on show here, from the inclusion of a host of fan favourites to deep, deep cuts of DC lore such as an appearance by the Challengers Of The Unknown and that love infuses every frame of this colourful, crazy adventure. Boasting a variety of animation styles and a sly if sophomoric sense of humour, “Teen Titans Go! To The Movies” delighted the middle-aged me, the tweenage Mertmas and even the five-year-old littlest Craggling. If only the songs had been slightly catchier, this could have been perfection. Despite that, DC have finally managed to get all their superheroes on screen for a family friendly, fun adventure – and it’s glorious.