One of my favorite parts of WonderCon any given year is the DC Comics animated feature film premieres. After attending the Son of Batman world premiere back in 2014 I’ve tried to attend every one since. These folks know how do right by their fans – and their films. They pull out all the stops with great moderators and excellent panels after the film with most (if not all) of the main cast members in attendance. It’s an awesome time and you get to share the whole experience with thousands of other fans from all over the country.

This year, Warner Bros. premiered Teen Titans: The Judas Contract to an incredibly excited crowd of DC Comics fans in a very crowded Anaheim Convention Center Arena.

Based on a classic Teen Titans comic book arc, The Judas Contract is the latest in the on-going ‘DC Animated Movie Universe.’ It’s a direct sequel to the first Teen Titans film, Justice League vs. Teen Titans. (Fun fact: Justice League vs. Teen Titans previously had its own world premiere at WonderCon in 2016.) At the end of that film we see a young woman that we later come to know as Terra heading towards Titans Tower indicating to viewers that a follow-up is inevitable.

Luckily for us it didn’t take too long for that follow-up to come. A year later, we’re back with the Teen Titans team. And when we meet back up with them in The Judas Contract about a year has passed for them, too.

If you watched the first film, the team is still pretty much the same. Starfire is in charge leading a group that consists of Robin (Damien Wayne), Beast Boy, Blue Beetle, Raven, and now Terra. Also: Nightwing is back! Considering the Son of Batman series of animated films are some of my favorite animated DC comics series ever, I was pretty excited about that. For one, I’ve loved Sean Maher since Firefly was on television and I’ve really liked him as Nightwing in those earlier movies – I just didn’t think he got nearly enough screen time. (And who doesn’t want to see more of Starfire and Nightwing being adorable?)

Even if you’re not familiar with the original The Judas Contract story, the title itself gives away that someone on the team is going to betray everyone. Unsurprisingly, it’s the team’s newest member Terra who is the titular Judas. She’s been planted there by Deathstroke, who has been hired to take out the Teen Titans once and for all. The relationship between Terra and Deathstroke is incredibly disturbing. She’s being manipulated just as much as she’s manipulating the Teen Titans but she doesn’t see it. Instead, she embraces Deathstroke in every way. (As a side note, Miguel Ferrer did an amazing job with Deathstroke.)

The manipulation, the secrets, and the ultimate revelations that come later in the film are incredibly worthwhile. Seeing Terra bond with the Teen Titans – especially Beast Boy who is seriously crushing on her – is fun and when you realize her true purpose in being with them the betrayal feels impactful. The writers do an amazing job of building Terra up just to ultimately have her tear everything apart.

Other characters besides Terra get some pretty serious development, too.

Since the last film was largely about Raven (and to a lesser degree Damien) this new one focuses on other members of the team. We learn more about Jaime and his origins, his relationship with his family, and the sacrifices he’s forced to make. We also get to spend some more time with Beast Boy – and his obsession with social media is a great distractor from the more serious moments in the film.

And, as I alluded to before, we get to see more of Starfire and Nightwing taking their relationship to the next level. Complete with a probably unnecessary number of jokes based solely on sexual innuendo.

All of this is great and I absolutely loved the majority of this movie. From start to finish, I really liked Terra and her story. I both loved her and hated what she did to the rest of the team (especially Beast Boy). It all worked really well.

What I didn’t like, though, was the focus on Brother Blood as the “main” bad guy. I don’t know, I just wasn’t feeling it. Yes, it brought Nightwing back into the fold. And, yes, it’s what ultimately leads Deathstroke and Terra to infiltrate the Teen Titans. I just found him to be boring. He and his little cult-like organization were fine as a catalyst for the other parts of the film but every time we went back to his part of the film I impatiently waited to get back to what really mattered. I just didn’t really care about what they were doing.

Still, it fit into the story and so I can’t be too hard on the film for boring me from time to time with Brother Blood’s cockamamie schemes.

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is a really fantastic follow up to the other films in the DC Animated Movie Universe. While the live action DC Comics adaptations scramble to pull together their own disjointed continuities, the animated universe has been going strong – at least since Son of Batman. (The movies before that were more or less just okay). They have a strong, connected narrative that keeps viewers coming back time and time again. If you’ve enjoyed the other films – and especially Justice League vs. Teen Titans – then you really need to check this one out.

If you like to buy your movies digitally, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is actually already available and has been since April 4th. Otherwise check it out on DVD or blu-ray on April 18th! Big time DC Comics fans may want to check out the special edition, even, which comes with an exclusive Blue Beetle figure. 

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