Teen Titans: The Judas Contract
Warner Bros. Animation has done it again. Teen Titans: The Judas Contract, the thirtieth release in the DC Animated Universe maintains the tradition of amazing storytelling and stunning animation fans have come to expect. Although this particular film has been plagued with issues, including the loss of one of its voice actors, the finished product will no doubt take its place among the finest and most popular of DC’s animated movies.
The Judas Contract was originally slated to be the third film released behind Superman: Doomsday and Justice League: The New Frontier. The project was later scrapped and was finally declared dead by producer Bruce Timm in 2010. Warner Bros. reversed that decision in 2016 and announced that The Judas Contract would be a direct sequel to Justice League vs. Teen Titans. The story is an adaptation of 1984’s “The Judas Contract” written by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. The story ran in issues #42-44 of Tales of the Teen Titans, and Teen Titans Annual #3.
The film features the voice talents of Stuart Allan as Damian Wayne/Robin, Taissa Farmiga as Raven, Brandon Soo Hoo as Beast Boy, Jake T. Austin as Blue Beetle, Kari Wahlgren as Starfire, Sean Maher as Dick Grayson/Nightwing, Christina Ricci as Terra, Gregg Henry as Brother Blood, Meg Foster as Mother Mayhem, Kevin Smith as himself, and Miguel Ferrer as Deathstroke who passed away shortly after production wrapped, making this his final performance.
The Teen Titans, consisting of Robin (Dick Grayson), Kid Flash, Bumblebee, Speedy and Beast Boy first encounter Koriand’r aka Starfire as she is fleeing from her home on Tamaran. There is an instant attraction between her and Dick that everyone can see. Fast forward five years and the residents of Titans Tower now comprise of Starfire (who is now leader of the team), Robin (Damian Wayne), Raven, Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Nightwing (who has rejoined the team) and newcomer Terra. The team is tracking down Brother Blood’s HIVE bases in order to shut down Blood’s organization.
Fed up with the Titan’s interference, Brother Blood enlists the help of Deathstroke to help him capture and defeat them once and for all. Little do the Titans know, there is a spy in their midst, someone they have trusted with their lives and have fought alongside for some time. This betrayal will rock the Titans to their very core. The spy gives Deathstroke exactly the information he needs to strike each of the Titans where they are weakest. Can Nightwing and the Teen Titans adapt to this new threat and stop Brother Blood before he unleashes an unspeakable evil upon the world?
With several entertaining and satisfying subplots, each of the Titans gets their own time in the spotlight. The overall flow of the film is smooth and progresses nicely without being bogged down with unnecessary story points. We get to see a progression of Dick and Kori’s relationship, Damian’s growth and ability to work with his teammates, Blue Beetle’s struggles being away from his family, Beast Boy’s longing for acceptance and love, Raven’s continued isolation and quirkiness and Terra’s haunting past and struggles to control her extraordinary powers.
It mixes almost perfectly while balancing the actions of Deathstroke and Brother Blood. There are even mentions of events from Son of Batman, that continues the conflict between Damian and Deathstroke. And it goes without saying that this Teen Titans bears no resemblance to its Cartoon Network counterpart. The action is fast and the fights are violent and even bloody at times, which makes this film unsuitable for younger audiences, so parents take caution. There is also an uncanny take on real-life political and social issues surround Brother Blood and his cult of followers.
As usual, the animation is top notch, with some vastly superior voice acting. It goes without saying that Christina Ricci’s Terra and Miguel Ferrer’s Deathstroke steal nearly every scene they are in. Ferrer brings an ominous presence to Deathstroke that sells the character and his malevolent nature. Ricci brings the vulnerability and inner conflict out of Terra so naturally. Without giving away too much, it is a shame that neither of these characters will be used much more in the future, mainly due to Miguel Ferrer’s passing.
This was a fun film to watch and engage in. Not too many calamitous holes in the story and hardly anything there for hardcore fans to find fault with. Although there are always a few that are going to pan this no matter what, as a fan of DC Comics, I enjoyed this visit to the Teen Titans universe immensely. A big thumbs up to Kevin Smith, who cameos as himself towards the end of the film, for being the perfect superhero fanboy. If you’re a DC or a Teen Titans fan from the 90s, you’re going to enjoy this adaptation of Wolfman and Perez’s story.