It’s crazy to think about but 2017 marks the 10 year anniversary of DC Comics and Warner Bros. venturing into the world of direct-to-video animated films. To mark the decade of full length animated films DC and WB is releasing Teen Titans: The Judas Contract digitally on April 4th and DVD and Blu-ray on April 18th. Ahead of its release to the public DC and WB held the world premiere of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract at WonderCon 2017. And I was one of the lucky few who attended the world premiere.
Now before I continue the following review will contain minor spoilers for the events of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. So if you want to go into the film without any knowledge, turn back now. You’ve been warned.
One of the big running themes of Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is the familial relationship the team share with one another. It’s a very interesting thing to see as there is a feeling that there has been a significant growth to the characters as a team since the events of Justice League vs Teen Titans. That is best seen with how Damian Wayne is constantly looking out for his team, while maintaining his asshole persona. This character growth during a period we haven’t seen allow us to imagine what happened to turn this new version of the Teen Titans to have the family mentality they are now shown to have.
This sense of family helps make the introduction of Terra feel seamless. There is never a question about how or why she is on the team for a year by the point we find the Teen Titans operating together. This set-up allowed the film to delve deeper Terra’s the mental instability thanks to her past into and the relationships she shares with the team and other outsiders. It’s through that were the meat of the movie is able to grab the audience attention.
Terra’s character development throughout the film perfectly compliments the journey of the team, especially Nightwing, Starfire and Blue Beetle. With Nightwing and Starfire we get to see them continue their relationship and the struggles they have. That struggle grows with Nightwing rejoining the team at the beginning of the film while Starfire still holds the title of leader of the Teen Titans. It adds an interesting element to their dynamic and where their arcs go throughout the film.
Blue Beetle gets a similarly interesting arc. It’s his arc where I wish we got a little more of not because we didn’t get enough growth. Rather I wanted more from Blue Beetle’s perspective because of the direction his character felt like it deserve more time, possibly a dedicated short.
On the villain side of things, Deathstroke definitely stole the show from Brother Blood. That is honestly not hard since Brother Blood has never been the most compelling villain. That doesn’t change in The Judas Contract, where he is more a means to drive the story forward.
Deathstroke on the other hand had a very interesting arc that is based on his previous appearance in Son of Batman. That foundation helps give added depth to certain character interaction. It is also a reminder of how many of DC’s direct-to-video films are connected to a shared universe. Deathstroke’s relationship with Terra is also developed in slightly different way, though many of the things fans will recognize from the comic is still there.
Alongside all of this story development, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is all the little nods to Teen Titans comic and the rest of the DCU. Though I won’t spoil what they are, Teen Titans fans will sure enjoy most of them and wonder what they mean for possible future stories in the DC Animated Film Universe.
Overall, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract does a very good job providing an updated version of Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s classic “The Judas Project” story. There was enough respect paid that Teen Titans fans will enjoy the film while acting as a gate for new fans who may not be aware of the comic book story.