On January 25th, the first in-depth trailer for DC’s much anticipated Justice League vs. Teen Titans film was released. Like many fans, I was thrilled to see the beloved lineup of Cartoon Network’s Teen Titans accompanied by newcomers Blue Beetle (Jaime Reyes) and Robin (Damian Wayne). But above all, I’m eager to see the dynamic duo of Raven and Starfire return to the screen after their ten-year hiatus following the series’ finale.*
For those who’ve watched up to Season Four of Teen Titans, you’ll already know what I’m about to say: TRIGON. Yes. The premise of the upcoming film features everyone’s favorite demonic, multi-dimensional warlord brainwashing the Justice League into wreaking literal hell on earth. A determined Damian Wayne joins the Titans in an effort to save his father and the rest of the world, likely taking on the role of leader as his past iterations have. Throughout the trailer, we catch glimpses of the League’s heroes being possessed by a mysterious “virus,” the Titans trekking through a hellish landscape, and Damian firing a barrage of missiles at a berserk Superman. Needless to say, there’s a lot to look forward to with this movie.
While Robin, Nightwing, and Cyborg have made appearances in the more recent animated films, Blue Beetle, Beast Boy, and Starfire have not. However, the Tamaranean princess did receive a “cameo” via a suggestive phone call with Dick Grayson in Batman vs. Robin. Despite the fact that Starfire’s outfit in the trailer is no better than her heavily sexualized counterpart in the comics, I hope DC makes an effort to give her a tasteful characterization.
And last but certainly not least is the half-demon daughter of Trigon herself: Raven.
Aside from Robin, she gets the most screen time in the trailer; hopefully, this trend will continue in the actual film. Conflicted, sarcastic, and whip-smart, Raven has been my favorite comic-book character for quite some time. With this in mind, I appreciate the fact that Teen Titans did her character justice by devoting five episodes to the animated equivalent of The Terror of Trigon Arc.**
The reason I mention this storyline is because a pivotal part of Raven’s character has to do with her playing a role in her father’s plans for universal conquest. While she seeks to do good with her powers, the heroine was destined from birth to become a living portal through which Trigon will enter and destroy the planet. Interestingly enough, a similar storyline to the trailer was also explored in Young Justice – a Cartoon Network series that premiered after Teen Titans had ended and featured a new cast of superheroes, many of which were members of the original Teen Titans in the 1960s-1970s comics. The finale of the series’ first season, “Auld Acquaintance,” opens with the Justice League being brainwashed into not only fighting their apprentices but laying waste to a distant planet.
Whether or not Justice League vs. Teen Titans decides to borrow elements from either or both series is still up to speculation. Personally, I’m just happy to see that the DC movies have yet to fall into the pit of merriment that defines the Series That Must Not Be Named.* On the contrary, in this film I see the potential to reunite several fan-favorite characters for the first time in years. I see a movie that’ll delve into the awkward, the light-hearted, and the darker aspects of the teenage psyche.
After all, what’s always set DC apart from Marvel for me was its grittier characters and themes – which is not to say that they don’t boast more colorful characters as well. The odd friendship between the spirited Starfire and level-headed Raven in Teen Titans was one of the things that made the show so enjoyable, so real. While only a few scenes in the trailer featured the heroines side by side, I predict we’ll be seeing them bonding and fighting evil together once more.
In this film, I see a glorious return to the strong female characters and storytelling that made Teen Titans and Young Justice so great.
* We do not speak of Teen Titans Go. Ever.
** All episodes relevant to The Terror of Trigon Arc are “Nevermore,” “Birthmark,” “The Prophecy,” and “The End” (Parts 1-3).