Adapted from the popular Teen Titans storyline of the same name, the DC Animated Universe produces the second film featuring the Teen Titans. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract follows last year’s Justice League vs. Teen Titans, which both were directed by Sam Liu. The film manages to capture the joy and heart of the comics and characters, that is easily loved even without watching the first film.
The story revolves around a new addition to the team, Tara Markov (Christina Ricci) or Terra, a troubled teen with Earth manipulation powers. The same core line-up from last year’s film is also seen: Starfire (Kari Wahlgreen), Robin (Stuart Allan), Beast Boy (Brandon Soo Hoo), Raven (Taissa Farmiga), and Blue Beetle (Jake T. Austin). Even though he officially left, Nightwing (Sean Maher) returns to help find out more information and ultimately take down H.I.V.E, revealed to be led by Brother Blood (Gregg Henry). The team must also face an unruly threat caused by Deathstroke (Miguel Ferrer) who was hired by Brother Blood to capture the team.
The Judas Contract is a film with a lot of tragedy, resentment, twists and love. It is truly a heart-breaking story that was captured fantastically in this animated adaptation. The tone was captured perfectly in the opening sequence, an introduction of Starfire into Earth, also featuring former Teen Titans members like Red Arrow, Kid Flash and Bumblebee. An extremely fun sequence, representing the humour and established the comic relief through Robin and Nightwing’s romantic relationship.
Every character has their own personal arc which manages to elevate the main storyline. Unlike many superheroes in The Justice League, there is a vulnerability to every character that makes them easily loved. Whether it be identity, family, romantic, or my father is a demon and trapped inside of me issues, each hero adds a unique dimension to the film. It is the dynamic relationship and interactions that will make you fall in love and get shocked by the team and what they can do. There was a wise decision to not revolve the story around Damian Wayne (Robin), who was already featured heavily in at least three previous DC animated films.
The writers of The Judas Contract manages to capture teenage issues wonderfully, whilst pitting them with powers and villains trying to kill them. Terra was an orphan, and through many flashbacks we learn why she is so resentful to the team, even after one-year of living with them. Beast boy’s interactions with Terra are full of wit and enjoyment. Blue Beetle’s quest to learn more about his alien powers and acceptance from his family is the classic case of finding out who you are. And Raven, probably the weakest written character, still captures the gritty teenage stage and her difficulties with her demon father. At the end of the day, they are all outcasts trying to feel a part of a group, a recognizable and relatable theme.
Deathstroke was easily one of, if not the best part of The Judas Contract. A villain that has so much mystery and depth, it’s no surprise there’s been so much buzz about him in the DCEU. The back and forth between Deathstroke and the Batman family, Nightwing and Robin, was extremely well written, and he manages to steal the spotlight every single time. Brother Blood was an eerily creepy villain that deserves some credit, but Deathstroke was far more memorable for the sheer diabolical presence and actions. Deathstroke also happens to be Miguel Ferrer’s last acting role before his untimely death, which the film gives a great nod to the character and actor.
Not only is there hilarious and witty dialogue, the stellar voice acting cast captured every emotion imaginable. The art style is similar to recent DC Animated films, which is not in any way a let-down. The graphics combined with the emotion filled characters create superb action sequences full of life.
Warner Bros. Animation should be proud and excited about the high quality production of The Judas Contract. This isn’t the first time the storyline was seen in its animated version, but this take shows a gritty nature that does justice to the comic books. There is a plethora of story lines they can take from the Teen Titans, and will be interesting to see what is next planned for the group.