The Teen Titans have sure come a long way since their first comic book appearance in Brave and the Bold #54 (July 1964). Back then, they were the glorified B team comprised of Robin, Kid Flash, Aqualad. Wonder Girl joined as the first female of the team in their second appearance in Brave and the Bold #60 (July 1965) Doomed to fight the never-ending battle against the shadows of their A-list counterparts, the team of sidekicks was an ever-enduring franchise from creation.
Over the decades, the Titans would be tried. They’d be redesigned, reassigned, canceled, relaunched and recast. Even on individual levels, their key cast members would be discounted and discarded (I’m mourning you, 90’s era Robin III). But no matter what you threw at them (or where you threw them), they just kept coming back. They were the noble underdogs of the DC universe, and have a dedicated subculture fan-base to prove it.
It wasn’t until the early 1980’s when the Titans finally started to garner the respect they deserved. The New Teen Titans, written by Marv Wolfman and Illustrated by George Perez, brought together a new cast (not too dissimilar from the cast of Titans we know today) and some solid storytelling. We also got to see cast members grow and mature (Robin becomes Nightwing in Tales of Teen Titans #44) and fight some big-time villains like Deathstroke (First appearance New Teen Titans #2). The Teen Titans were on the rise, but it won’t be for a couple decades before they truly arrive as an accepted self-contained franchise for mainstream audiences.
In the early 2000’s the Teen Titans got their epic relaunch through a fantastic animated series on Cartoon Network that seamlessly blended adventure, drama, and comedy. Many of us grew up on that show (myself included) and loved it dearly the way we loved Batman: The Animated Series. The 90’s and early 00’s were truly a golden era for superhero cartoons, and the Titans can surely lay claim to playing a part in that glory. But, it’ll get quiet again for just over a decade before…
Enter 2013, the Teen Titans get another kick at the can through a completely new angle, a self-deprecating quirky comedy that puts laughs first and foremost, Teen Titans Go. Focused primarily (between missions it seems, or we hope!) on their exploits at Titans Tower and Jump City, the relaunch brought with it hilarity as well as humanity. It also took every opportunity to poke fun at itself and the rich DC history that disposed of the Titans for so long.
The show was met with some chagrin, but it also arrived for a new fan-base that was tired of taking it’s superheroes so seriously. Riddled with Easter Eggs and references for die-hards, the show was accessible, hilarious, good and light-hearted.
When I first saw the trailer for the upcoming Teen Titans Go to the Movies (during a recent Jumanji screening), I could feel the shift in the room. People were letting their guards down, the kids and adults alike were genuinely excited and belly laughing (it’s terribly hard to make a fart joke land these days). I started thinking about how the Titan fans of old are all my age or in their 50’s/60’s now, and that it’s a good thing that a new generation gets a piece of those iconic characters, in a form that’s relevant to them. I figure if there’s something to help dispel the DC doldrums (holy parademons do we ever need it), it’s the Teen Titans.
Sure, they’re kind of Deadpool Light, but “if Aquaman can get a movie, anyone can.” I’m down to GO
by Cory Saran