Don’t let the title fool you, this is far more a Teen Titans story than it is a Justice League one. They’re very much not on equal footing, and the forced presence of the league ends up being a detriment to the rest of the story. It’s predictable where the story is going to take the league’s presence from frame one, and it feels like the creators wanted to ensure this would sell on the strengths of the bigger named characters instead of trusting in the presence of the Titans.
Justice League vs. Teen Titans is a step up from the prior New 52 adaptations though, even if this one is uneasy in how it manages to shoehorn in the newer incarnations of the league with a classic-run Titans story. If I had been a creative in charge, I would have made it so the league only appeared in the opening teaser just long enough to get into the argument with Robin and dropping him off with the junior team. They wouldn’t have returned to the story until the very end.
What would the rest of the story have encompassed then? Why a straight-up adaptation of the classic Trigon, which this somewhat resembles. I mean, they do place a strong emphasis on Raven – finally there’s a female character without torpedo tits (seriously, what’s up with the anatomy of Starfire and Wonder Woman?), a complete personality, and the ability to function as something other than window dressing. It’s in these moments that Justice League vs. Teen Titans feels straight out of the best moments of the 80s comics with team functioning as a close group, and Beast Boy cracking numerous jokes.
If nothing else, this just made me want an entire film dedicated to the team without the crutch of Batman, Superman, and et al. to ensure sales figures are up to snuff. The teaser in the mid-credits lays the groundwork for an adaptation of The Judas Contract, one of the more famous stories and a canceled film that was originally planned as the third offering from these direct-to-video films. This is a good thing as it means more Taissa Farmiga as Raven, Jake T. Austin as Blue Beetle, Brandon Soo Hoo as Beast Boy, and Stuart Allan’s reliably entitled brattiness as Damian Wayne. But next time out could we possibly spend a little less time animating Starfire as a brainless piece of cheesecake?