Robin gets brutal in ‘Titans’
When it comes to superhero movies, there’s a perception that you’ve got to choose between DC’s gritty, dour offerings or Marvel’s winking humor. But five cartoon wannabe heroes armed with jokes are trying to change that.
Warner Bros has elevated its “B’’ level DC superheroes in Team Titans Go! from basic cable to the big screen in hopes they can do what so many of its A-list films cannot — add a dose of surreal and goofy humor to its universe. Think of it like “Deadpool” for the middle school set.
“Teen Titans GO! to the Movies” might be aimed at fans of the manic and underrated Cartoon Network show but any parent who tags along will likely chortle as the film gleefully skewers the world of superheroes and the film industry itself.
Jokes take on “Apocalypse Now,” “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” and “The Lion King.” There’s a scene when Shia LaBeouf gets beaten up and an appearance by Stan Lee, the Marvel icon, who, yes, makes fun of himself in a cameo in a DC film. This is a film that adores mocking itself: One of the original songs features Michael Bolton singing the exquisitely cheesy “Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life” that features colorful unicorns, dolphins and jet skis.
The film’s central premise is mocking the endless supply of tights-and-cape wearing flicks out there. The Teen Titans — Robin, Starfire, Beast Boy, Cyborg and Raven — want one, too, but they’re not considered famous enough to warrant their own franchise. So they band together to force Hollywood to take them seriously. “Having a movie is the only way to be seen as a real hero,” intones Robin.
They decide they need an arch-nemesis to legitimize them and find one in Slade (a sort of DC version of Deadpool, which proves a rich vein of jokes). Part of the reason they decide on Slade is his name is “fun to say in a dramatic way.” He’s voiced by Will Arnett, who played Batman in the two “LEGO” movies, and is happy to break the fourth wall: “Don’t you know anything about arch-villains?” he asks when he seems to be defeated. “We always have a back-up plan.”
Some of the other guest voices include talk show host Jimmy Kimmel as Batman, singer Halsey as Wonder Woman, rapper Lil Yachty as Green Lantern, actor Wil Wheaton as Flash, comedian Patton Oswalt as Atom, and actress Kristen Bell, as a film mogul. You’ll also get to hear Nicolas Cage voice Superman — a role he famously almost played in a live action film in the late 1990s. But most of the celebs have very few lines so don’t go just for the guests.
Do go for the world created by the writers and directors Aaron Horvath, Michael Jelenic and Peter Rida Michail, who have been collaborating on this screwball world since 2013, going from mocking Napoleon Bonaparte to the film “A Few Good Men.” Their transition to the big screen is admirable — taking a 22-minute TV show into an hour and a half movie can’t be easy — but it never lags.
The filmmakers are brimming with ideas, from explosive diarrhea jokes to time-travel montages accompanied by Huey Lewis & The News’ “Back in Time.” They also supply some of the songs. And they’re also not afraid to bite the hand that feeds them — much of the shenanigans take place on the Warner Bros. back lot.
“Teen Titans GO! to the Movies” is the sort of silly film you and your kids can both enjoy, a slice of pure escapist fare in these divisive days. It’s decidedly not political.
The kids will come away with life lessons — friendship is more important than fame, teamwork is always worth the effort — and the adults will laugh about watching Green Lantern admit that “we don’t talk about” the disastrous “Green Lantern” movie — in a DC flick, at that.
“Teen Titans GO! to the Movies,” a Warner Bros Pictures release, is rated PG by the Motion Picture Association of America for “action and rude humor.” Running time: 88 minutes. Three stars out of four.
LOS ANGELES: “… Batman.”
The first trailer for “Titans” — the first original scripted series for DC Entertainment’s new streaming service, DC Universe — was unveiled Thursday, revealing a dark side of Dick Grayson, the erstwhile Robin.
The teaser comes as Comic-Con kicked off Thursday in San Diego. DC also on Thursday revealed the subscription cost for DC Universe. Annual subs to the service, which also includes digital comics, library content, and a social-media element, will be available for $74.99. Monthly subscriptions will be available for $7.99. Pre-orders for the app opened Thursday.
“Titans,” from Warner Bros Television, is set to premiere this year, with two other WBTV live-action series, “Doom Patrol” and “Swamp Thing,” slated to debut in 2019. Also scheduled to premiere next year on the service are new series “Harley Quinn” and the third season of “Young Justice,” both from Warner Bros. Animation.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, DC Entertainment chief creative officer Jim Lee discussed the DC Universe original programming slate.
“‘Titans’ was the biggest franchise that had yet been adapted to other media,” Lee said. “We saw that this was something that fans would obviously love to see. Obviously the Teen Titans are a very beloved franchise. ‘Swamp Thing’ represents horror. We wanted to have different tonalities in the programming.”
Lee declined to discuss how many subscribers DC expects to draw to the nascent streaming service. “We know that we have lots and lots of fans, and we hope that by delivering an awesome experience, a lot of them will subscribe to the service.”
In addition to the new original programming, DC Universe will be home to multiple library titles, the company announced Thursday, including all four original “Superman” movies starring Christopher Reeve; “Batman: The Animated Series”; the original “Wonder Woman” series; and the animated feature films “Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox,” “Green Lantern: First Flight,” and “Wonder Woman.” (Agencies)
By Mark Kennedy