So much time has been spent analyzing Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment’s recent attempts to make live-action movies with their iconic library of superheroes that it can be easy to forget the connected, straight-to-DVD, animated universe they have built over the years.
It should come as no surprise that this multi-movie animated world is well-put together and full of intriguing, entertaining storylines: Warner Bros. animation is involved. From the groundbreaking “Batman: The Animated Series” of the early 1990s to the hilarious “Teen Titans Go” currently on television, DC Comics has always been at their best creatively in the toon department.
WB/DC’s latest movie “Teen Titans: The Judas Contract” (available today digitally and on Blu-ray) stands out as their best animated effort yet.
“The Judas Contract,” a Teen Titans storyline from the ’80s from the legendary creative duo of writer Marv Wolfman and artist George Perez, is an all-time great DC Comics story, right up there with “Watchmen,” “Kingdom Come” and “The New Frontier.”
Adapting the ’80s classic into a modern-day tale meant making some tweaks. The Titans roster in “The Judas Contract” has been updated, with Damian Wayne serving as Robin the Boy Wonder. While the characters in the movie don’t completely mimic the original storyline, enough key ingredients are there to make the movie work well.
We flash back to the original Teen Titans featuring Dick Grayson as the first Robin, establishing the moment he falls in love with refugee alien Starfire. Kid Flash even makes an appearance. In the present day, Grayson has moved on to his Nightwing identity and overlooks a young group of Titans (Robin, Beast Boy, Blue Beatles, Raven and Terra) alongside Starfire.
Terra, of course, is the key to this movie. In the ’80s storyline of “The Judas Contract,” Terra was revealed to be a traitor and secret spy for Titans enemy Deathstroke, dealing a powerful blow to the team, both physically and mentally.
That secret is revealed to viewers early on in the movie; the rest of “The Judas Contract” is the team and Terra dealing with the consequences of her actions.
Terra comes off as classically naive, falling for the master manipulations of Deathstroke at the expense of the Titans’ family dynamic, but her descent into spydom is nothing new to your standard DC Comics fan, who will be the primary viewer of this film. These movies are made for the hardcore, fanboy audience; they’ll watch knowing what will happen, but stay for the enjoyment of viewing a modernized and slightly tweaked take. (And be sure to check out the special features, which include must-see interviews with Wolfman and Perez reminiscing about their epic “Teen Titans” comic-book run.)
“The Judas Contract” delivers the required emotional hurt expected for those who know this tale, along with plenty of cool action. It’s fun, dark and an instant classic in WB/DC’s young animated-movie world.