Teen Titans Go! To the Movies stands out from the superhero crowd

I’m going to say this up front: Teen Titans Go! To the Movies might be my favorite superhero film this year. Black Panther is probably still number one, but that also feels like a lifetime ago considering everything that has happened since February. This year so far is at least a full “We Didn’t Start the Fire” verse.

Anyway, for those unaware, this film is an extension of the Teen Titans Go! television series. I’ve only seen a small amount of the show, each of which is typically two 10-minute stories. The show is much more of a cartoon than animated series, focusing on gags more than supervillains. To the Movies splits the difference, so while there isn’t a strict A to B to C plot, there’s a strong through line that means it isn’t overly segmented.

Every superhero is getting a movie, while Teen Titans Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, and Beast Boy (voiced by Scott Menville, Hynden Walch, Tara Strong, Khary Payton, and Greg Cipes, respectively) have to sneak into the premiere of Batman Again. Other heroes and Hollywood treat them as a joke, but Robin especially has grown resentful. Movie director Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) basically laughs them out of the Warner Bros. backlot. The Titans decide that without an arch nemesis, they won’t be taken seriously, so they attempt to find one in the form of Slade* (Will Arnett).

And of course the story ends with Robin learning to accept himself as he is, but that is not what makes Teen Titans Go! To the Movies great. Really, it’s just that this movie is really funny. Yes, there is body humor aimed squarely at the juvenile demographic, but there is also whip-smart meta humor about the state of superhero cinema and deep cuts to lots of DC characters I am still shocked made it into the film (Challengers of the Unknown, what?). There’s a loving sort of parody that runs through the film, from great Aquaman jokes to parodying Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but it is all in good fun. I’m not sure whether it is tone or the fact that this is an animated film, but this movie had me laughing out loud more than both Deadpools combined.

Will Arnett voices Slade, the villain in “Teen Titans Go! To the Movies,” as well as produces the new Warner Bros. animated feature. (Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

Beyond Bell and Arnett, this film also has an all-star guest cast. Leading the way is Nicholas Cage as Superman, using his National Treasure voice. Halsey and Lil Yachty are inspired choices for Wonder Woman and Green Lantern, but my favorite might be Patton Oswalt as the Atom. They are all well integrated into the film, and do make it feel like the Titans exist in a fully-formed universe.

But I really just keep coming back to the jokes. They feel like they come at a rapid clip, and use a variety of animation styles depending on what kind of cutaway is happening, representing characters’ dream, imagination, or creative projects using yarn. I really don’t want to spoil any of the jokes, because they are that good, riffing on all kinds of influences and many styles of humor.

If you like superhero movies, this is absolutely a fun watching experience that I can’t recommend more highly.

*also known as Deathstroke in the comics, but not referred to that way in the film.

Author: Ryan Silberstein

Ryan spends his days at a company named one of the best to work for in the Philadelphia area, and his nights as a mysterious caped vigilante saving his city from the disease that is crime watching movies. He lives on a diet consisting of film, comic books, experimental beer, black coffee, and those big metal historical markers around town. Follow him on Twitter and Letterboxd.

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