That’s So NOT Raven: A Justice League vs. Teen Titans Review

Justice League vs. Teen Titans.jpg
A promotional image for Justice League vs. Teen Titans

Justice League vs. Teen Titans?

More like Who Needs The Justice League When We Have Damian Wayne?

On March 29th, DC’s latest animated film Justice League vs. Teen Titans was released online. Like many Teen Titans fans, I was thrilled to see the titular team make a glorious return. However, the movie was far from what I’d expected. While it wasn’t downright bad nor good, it was extremely underwhelming – which is saying a lot considering the fact that the story was supposed to focus on my all-time favorite heroine. The poor treatment of its female characters is just one of the things that made the film feel like such a missed opportunity.

SPOILERS AHEAD!

Teen Titans
The Team greets the new Robin – Damian Wayne.

In terms of aesthetics, I’ve greatly enjoyed DC’s line of Justice League-centered films. Where Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice failed, movies like Justice League vs. Teen Titans deliver colorful and fast-paced action. However, any adaption has to make a decision regarding character design. Oddly enough, several of the designs match those featured in the Young Justice series (i.e Beast Boy and Blue Beetle). But in spite of this development, the voices for the characters don’t match – which I found a bit odd. As far as the designs of the latest installment go, I was glad to see the changes made to Wonder Woman’s costume as well as the consistency to the others’ outfits – with the exception of Starfire. While she’s far from the worst offender, Starfire is both hypersexualized and silenced in this film. Neither she, Raven, or Wonder Woman is framed in the best light.

But as discussed in an earlier article, the film follows the storyline of The Terror of Trigon. Teen Titans first attempted this plot and said adaptation was well received. With such a high bar set, Justice League vs. Teen Titans was doomed from the start. The film simply couldn’t keep up. Following the events of Batman: Bad Blood, the film features the new Robin (Damian Wayne) confronting his own ruthless nature. In order to do so, he is sent to work with the Teen Titans.

Confrontation
Damian and Raven confront each other.
Confrontation 3
Damian protects Raven from his possessed grandfather Ra’s al Ghul.

I’m going to get this off my chest from the get-go: I am not a fan of Damian Wayne. Tim Drake is and always will be my favorite Robin. On paper, Damian has a lot of potential. Having been raised as an assassin by the League of Shadows, he is naturally not the most social person – in fact, he’s arrogant and rude 99% of the time. While I have no problem with this aspect of his character, the movies leading to Justice League vs. Teen Titans suggest that he’d moved away from the brooding preteen stereotype. But it became all too clear that his personality had undergone a complete reset in this film.

Three movies of character development: totally retracted. And this is but the beginning of the problems I had with Justice League vs. Teen Titans.

Raven.PNG
A young Raven summons her father.
Raven 2.PNG
Father and daughter meet for the first time.

Soon after joining the Teen Titans, Damian learns that fellow member Raven is the daughter of an interdimensional demon-lord named Trigon. The title of the film is solely based on the two confrontations that take place between a possessed Justice League and the Teen Titans. Hoping to dominate Earth by taking control of the Justice League and using Raven as a living portal, Trigon only appears in the flesh during the latter half of the film – and a lackluster appearance at that. Don’t get me wrong, he looks fantastic – but his gait and voice aren’t threatening at all. He doesn’t have a presence. Once a character or scenario breaks the viewer’s immersion it has already lost something crucial. In addition to the movie’s poor handling of the antagonist, the use of Magical Girl-esque transformation sequences and slow pacing did little to hold my attention.

Transform.PNG
Starfire in mid-transformation.

Did the depiction of the heroes hold better? Yes and no.

Beast Boy is unfunny and Nightwing takes part in zero of the fights. Need I say more?

Demons.PNG
Raven confronts her father and half-brothers.
Raven 3.PNG
Raven relaxing at home – her father now sealed away in the chakra on her forehead.

Although she should have been the center of the story, Raven acts as more of a secondary character to Damian Wayne. To be fair, the writers nailed the character’s personality. She’s just as introverted and selfless as she’s always been. I would have liked to see more sarcasm from her, but I don’t think it could have been accomplished with the actress chosen to portray her.

I’ll confess once more: I’m completely biased to the voicework of Tara Strong. Her take on the Teen Titans’ version of Raven was so full of nuances that the film version was nowhere near reaching. I’m not alone in this. In perusing several articles and comments, fans seem to agree that the new voice for Raven seemed off. Her lack of participation in the final fight was also disappointing. The Terror of Trigon arc may have been her story, but it sure didn’t come across that way. More time was devoted to Damian’s fight with Ra’s Al Ghul than Raven sorting out her own inner conflict.

Starfire & Nightwing
Starfire and Nightwing reunited.
Wonder Woman
Wonder Woman comforted by Superman.

As for Starfire and Wonder Woman, they’d definitely seen better days. After having received “cameos” in both Batman vs. Robin and Batman: Bad Blood, I was thrilled to see Starfire get a fresh start. But as mentioned before, I was disappointed. She serves more as the team’s maternal figure than a fully fleshed-out superhero. While this in itself isn’t a problem – seeing as there’ll be more movies to come – Starfire comes off as completely useless in several of the fights. At the very least, she retains her playful nature. On the other hand, Wonder Woman is a more than capable fighter in all of her scenes, except for one off-hand comment at the end. Early in the film, Wonder Woman can be seen berating a romantic movie’s use of the Damsel in Distress trope. But after having been saved by Superman, she quips, “Just like the movies.”

Just like the movies. Excuse me?

I think you can guess what my reaction was to this.

Pizza.PNG
The Justice League commending the Teen Titans on a job well done – only to be interrupted by Cyborg.

In the end, would I consider Justice League vs. Teen Titans a bad movie? No. I think a part of what made this movie so disappointing was our fervent desire to like it. While we really, really wanted to like it, the film was not what anyone had expected. But despite its many flaws, it’s still worth a watch. Even if you’re the most disgruntled of fans, the film’s cinematography, easter eggs, and detailed unwrapping of Raven’s story are enough to keep anyone happy.

Justice League vs. Teen Titans

Have any other thoughts on the movie? Leave a comment below.
Advertisements

45 thoughts on “That’s So NOT Raven: A Justice League vs. Teen Titans Review

  1. They make it seems like Raven and Damian has a thing for each other. I hate that part cause I am the biggest fan of BBRae. What the heck man. That bratty brat shouldn’t be with Raven.

    1. I know right im a big time hardcore fan of bbrae too and I didn’t like the direction of raven and Damian it just don’t make sense. I hope they don’t come out with another movie cuz the direction they’re going with raven and Damian could end up into romance

      1. Among the many, many timelines that make up the DC universe, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one in which they’re married. I know that Dick Grayson and Raven were “dating” at one point, but the latter realized that her empathic powers were partly to blame.

    2. OMG OMG YOUR THE PERSON WHO UNDERSTAND ME!!! I AM LIKE INLOVE WITH BBRAE MY WHOLE LIFE IS BBRAE! AND ONCE I SAW THIS I WAS LIKE “bruh,bruh,you are going to get the bbrae fans triggered! I’m already triggered”

    3. To be fair BBRae was always a retarded match up to begin with. Starfire makes more sense with BB due to Star’s lack of inhibition and BB’s child like personality. Even Daimen and Raven make far more sense. BBRae is a dumb “ship” to sink in.

  2. I never felt Beast Boy was funny anyway.

    To be honest, even if they couldn’t or wouldn’t get Tara Strong, there so many voice actresses who could pull of Raven.

    1. The voice actress is actually a good cast. I though I’d have problems with the lack of Tara, but she did give off a good Raven voice.

    1. As I mentioned earlier, I DO understand that the character’s background is grounded in sensuality (i.e Tamaranean culture). But I also think it’s important to note that the comic-book industry has long been a man’s game and years-worth of pandering has been done for the benefit of what was believed to be an exclusively heterosexual male audience. Projects such as the Hawk Eye Initiative, while comedic, seek to shed light on issues concerning the hypersexualization of the female body. You’d be surprised by how eye-opening it is. That’s not to say that female characters can’t be both sexy and strong. I’m personally a fan of the rendition of Starfire from the animated “Teen Titans,” but I understand that this is not a completely accurate portrayal of who she is in the comics. I’m not a fan of how she is depicted in this particular film, but I understand where said portrayal is coming from.

      This is just my humble opinion.

    2. yeah sadly people don’t get how characters are. hell its thanks to how Linkara explained this stuff I get how these characters are, that and th eteen titans animated series. and also the fact that well, Nightwing and Starfire are clearly a couple in this thing. it’s not like the first 30 minutes of the killing joke we’re talking about here

  3. I found Beast Boy funny. Nightwing didn’t need to fight. I liked Cyborg’s role. Thought Raven’s voice was fitting. Other than that, I agree with this review.

  4. I thought it was funny when beast boy said to Damian ” didn’t your mother teach you never to play with knives?” Oh the irony, if only he knew about talia al ghul and the league of shadows… Lol
    I like how they added cyborg into teen titans at the end like he was often in the comics.

  5. Okay, so you know at the beginning?? When Starfire said ” [the scarb] may be fused to Jaime’s spine, but it’s not exactly under his control,” and Raven said to Beastboy/Gar ” It’s kind of like you and your pants,”. I’d also like to mention: 1. Gar knew Raven had been having nightmares 2. Gar sleeps in the nude 3. Raven really didn’t care that Gar was naked. Anyone catch my drift?? I mean, it could just be coincidence, but it’s fun to think about…

    1. I get it. But,I don’t really think they’d be in a reLatin ship in this stupid movie! I’d love LOVE them to be in a relation ship more then life. But,the stupid damian (new robin) got in the way! Lord no! That’s why I like the teen titans series better than

  6. I agree with your critique. The movie wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either. I was really looking forward to seeing The Teen Titans in an animated movie but I was severely disappointed. I have never been a fan of the new Robin and I hate the idea that he and Raven could have a relationship other than friendship! Starfire is better off sticking with Red Hood and Arsenal. I think I’ll just stick to the comic books!

  7. I would love for roboin and raven to be together any nightwing and star fire are together . And they should make many for movies like that or just make as much as they want. Those who don’t like that movie don’t hate on it. I love robrae

  8. I love that robin and Raven might be together anyway star fire is with nightwing one of the robins. And I hope they make more movies just like it or make the movie in to a series and if you don’t like the movie don’t hate on it .all the way Robrae.

  9. I really love that in this movie they have more ship moments for Damian and Raven. I really, really hope they make another movie where Raven and the whole is included. If they make another movie there friendship might lead into romance. They’ll make a cute couple:) and I know there young but when they get older they can be a couple. I know that Damian is 10 years old in the movie but how old is Raven?

    1. It’s not made clear in the film, but I was under the impression that Raven was 13-14. I would look into the comic book adaption of “The Terror of Trigon” just to be sure.

    2. Sorry. I’m a beastboy X raven fan. I disagree with this comment. I think beastboy and raven in teen titans the series,would be the best couple ever

  10. Let me just say. I don’t the damian and raven shouldn’t be inlove in this movie. I mean,cmon people! What about bbrae? I have been a bbrae fan for over years,and let me tell ya,damian and raven could be a terrible relation ship. My opinion,is teen titans,the series is way better then this crap. It has drama,beastboy has a cool costume,plus beastboy doesn’t talk when he morphs into an animal. Also,can I just tell you starfires outfit is more terrible then anything. I like how raven looks,but I think raven is better in teen titans the series. (And people I am NOT talking about teen titans go). I’m stating the point here peeps,damian and raven not good! I HATE how the new robin has that outfit and he’s so rude! Lord boy!

    1. No buddy I think you got it all wrong forget Beast Boy in Judas Contract he has Terra.Though she dies I like Raven and Robin they are so alike let them have a life. Sorry if I bother you im just leaving me opinion.

      1. As I mentioned earlier, everyone is allotted to their own ships 🙂

        I definitely see the appeal of Robin x Raven, but it’s not my particular cup of tea.

  11. I wasn’t intending to write so much but this accidentally turned into a review, so if you’ll indulge me…

    The Damian-Raven ship (spoilers imminent) really has an uphill battle to accomplish anything, all things considered. Ignoring, for a second, the vastly more popular Beast Boy-Raven ship, it really doesn’t help that Damian’s already hard-up for audience appreciation considering he’s prone to an unbalanced portrayal that tends to celebrate him -as- an Jerk Sue (Damian’s instant and needless mastery of the carnival’s dance game is an excellent example of this — no matter how good you are at what you do, Damian will be better without having ever done it before). Secondly, even if their particular form of chemistry is more appealing to you (even without romance, Raven and Damian are similar enough that I can cede them being good companions, but I personally prefer more dynamic relationships), the romance is developed by awkward fits and starts — it’s only triggered because they accidentally mind-melded, and their initial nudge into not-mutual-dislike involves what is undeniably character shilling (Raven telling Damian deep down he’s a kind person really doesn’t fly when all movie he’s been a prat).

    There are other items to criticize. The movie is grossly mis-titled — it’s another render of the Terror of Trigon, so anybody hoping the climax (or even the plot) of the movie is actually going to be about real conflict between the Titans and the League is going to be disappointed. The fight in question is a sideshow. Also, the movie can’t really decide who it’s about, leaping back and forth between the League and the Titans while failing to accomplish anything beyond Trigon being vaguely spooky.

    Damian’s character arc is ostensibly about him learning to be a team player, and yet… he doesn’t. In fact, the movie decides it’s more important he confront his grandpa angst… by himself (I’m a Titan! Which is why I’m fighting you on my own! The others are busy fighting cannon fodder! ‘Cause we’re a team!). His arc is incoherent and laughable.

    Raven, the movie’s second principal character, has a suffering character arc as well, since most of her screentime is busy being sacrificed to the overall plot on the one hand and to her relationship with Damian on the other. I want to be generous and claim it’s about her trying desperately to avoid her doom until she lets herself succumb… but then she handles world-annihilating Trigon so damn easily it’s a wonder she was afraid at all.

    Part of the problem with both of their arcs is, in fact, the relationship that should be the heart of this movie. The movie is so damn sold on trying to get us to accept them as kindred spirits that it has Damian needlessly waste time confronting his own heritage (yet again) when that has nothing to do with his problems in the film. They actually brought back Ra’s al-Ghul for three minutes so he could die again. It’s not only irrelevant to Damian’s problems in the film, it’s not only redundant in terms of his past three or four movies that he’s already been in, it’s successfully diminishing Raven’s own conflict with her father by focusing on something that has no business happening. This relationship is so poorly executed that it actually manages to diminish both of them as individuals.

    I just realized — there’s an honest-to-God reason to say that Damirae ruined this movie and it has nothing to do with shipping.

    …But, hey, at least Damian gets to learn humility and teamwork by being OP at DDR.

  12. Please I need your answer. I really don’t understand and Im dying to. This movie happens after teen titans, right? Well, why the heck does raven have the red crystal in the series but she get’s it at the end of this movie, when she’s more grown?

    1. DC’s more recent animated films (i.e Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Teen Titans: Judas Contract, etc.) encompass a separate timeline than that of the original run of Teen Titans. While there may be parallels between the two, Justice League vs. Teen Titans does NOT take place after the television series. Raven’s chakra – her red crystal – was probably meant to serve as proof of her heritage rather than a prison for Trigon himself. Hope this answers your question!

  13. Dudeee no joke im not trying to be rude but i think Taissa did a great job i was expecting a little more from Dick Grayson my man Nightwing but we all sont get what we want. I really wanted more Robin and Raven i totally ship them even thiugh i know in other movies or shows its all about Rave and Beast Biy but Raven and Robin are so alike why not give then a shot at well a relationship. This is all I have to say thanks for your time.😀

    1. Hey, no biggie. Everyone is allotted to their own ships 🙂

      In all honesty, I don’t believe Raven needs to be in a relationship in order to hold up as an interesting character. But if I had to pick someone, I’d have to stick with Beast Boy. On a side note, I’m definitely biased towards Tara Strong’s work as she was the “original” Raven and is known for having a wide range. She really brought out the humanity in the character while retaining her ominous vibe. If her voice actress in Justice League vs. Teen Titans was given better material to work with, I bet she would have shined more.

  14. I’m a huge fan of Tim Drake as well. I think DC is completely clueless how to manage the Robins because of massively bad management that came about some time just before the launched the disaster that was nu52. (Around the time with Paul Dini where they started putting Stephanie Brown as Robin then unceremoniously offing her like a nobody) They should simply merged Tim Drake’s personality and his Robin legacy and history with Daiman’s origin, sword use, and maybe his name (the only things I’d keep frankly).

    Simply put, the Daimen’s behavior is COMPLETELY unlike the Al Ghuls even during his comic book introduction which was frankly cringe. Ra’s and Talia have always been very regal, honorable, chivalrous, and had excellent mannerisms unlike Daiman. How Daiman picked up this abrasive character with such well mannered Grandfather and mother is beyond badly planned out. They even made Bruce Wayne childish… AGAIN… after all the work Chuck Dixon and Grant Moorison put into developing him into a stable adult and good father figure to the Batfamily.

    Further giving Tim Drake the origin of Daiman prevents having to give DC an excuse to keep trying to kill off Jack Drake, Tim’s Mom, and Dana his stepmother just to make easier to excuse why Tim Drake has the freedom to go fight crime. Not just that but the recent movie “Son of the Bat” or whatever was absolutely cringe with pants on head retarded scenes like Jedi Ra’s Al Ghul deflecting bullets from machine guns, and a gatlin gun that shoots arrows without having any sensical mechanism to fire arrows like bullets that can also take down an attack helicopter.

    Your comment on Starfire’s hypersexualization shows you don’t know much about the character and base it only on the recent Teen Titans animated series.

    All in all, this movie wasn’t bad. I did enjoy the fact they weren’t pushing BBRae. I hope that stupid ship is done. It was dumb in the comics, dumb in TTG, dumb in fanart and shipping and dumb anywhere you find it.

    1. While I appreciate receiving criticism and comments, I wouldn’t use the word “retarded” to describe opinions that don’t exactly align with my own. Just something to keep in mind 🙂

      On a side note, I agree with your take on DC’s inconsistent portrayal of some of its characters. This tends to happen whenever a narrative team decides to experiment, reboot, or simply pass their duties onto new writers – all of which aren’t bad in the slightest! But in the long run, they won’t be able to please everyone. To be honest, I wanted to give Damian Wayne a chance after having watched DC’s other animated films, but the inconsistencies in his character made it difficult. If other fans happen to like him, good on them. Everyone is allowed to like what they like.

      If you don’t enjoy BBRae, that’s perfectly fine. You’re allowed to like what YOU like. I happen to find their “opposites attract” dynamic to be a solid basis for friendship – and perhaps – romance. As for my opinion of Starfire, I just wish that the narrative team had better balanced her sexuality with her other traits. I know that she’s very open about her body and desires in the comics, but why not establish that alongside her energy and maternal side?

  15. I find the Damian Raven Ravian coupling is good and a possible turning point for the chatacters here are some points of interest

    Both were inclined to be successors of evil immortal demon like fathers aka rahs al ghul and trigon
    As such they understand each other’s difficulties
    Their origins are from Gotham
    Ravens mother was originally from Gotham as such her origin centers on the demonic cult church of blood based in Gotham , a crossover or temporary alliance between the league of assassins and the church of blood could be interesting and spawn a new story Arch for raven maybe including justice league Dark and her eventual flourishing as a character
    The characters both have deep storylines which could intertwine and be developed again league of assassins demon lord trigon.
    Damien as a character has potential to progres from the dismissive mini-batman brat. And opened up to others,The titans seem to be the source if this change as such a meaningful relationship is possible
    In the retcon of this movie
    Damian is 12-13
    While Raven is 13-14
    Years old
    Robin and ravens are both birds

    Beast boy on the other hand has always been a comic relief character which to me was OK and in the comics is depicted as a interest for raven but simply I find him to quirky and aloof to ever understand raven. Maybe a friend who makes her lighten up and laugh but he just lacks a story to match up with ravens she would just be a member of the titan s but further character development would be more limited and unrelated to Beast Boy. No offense to classic teen titans fans but a change is welcome to the series and the changes of character coupling and addition of new characters is necessary for the titans to develop a new movie or maybe a revival of the series other than the teen titans go mockery of nostalgia.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s