Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is the second film featuring these heroes from Warner Animation and DC. It is a marked improvement over the disappointing Teen Titans Vs. Justice League. Based on a four part, 1984 comic series, Teen Titans: The Judas Contract introduces a new Titan, Tara Markov (Christina Ricci) aka Terra, a young woman with the ability to control earth and stone. Directed by Sam Liu and written by Ernie Altbacker, the film slickly integrates adult themes into its entertaining plotline. The Judas Contract is action packed and moves at a fast pace. The Teen Titans are certainly on better footing here.
The film opens with Terra’s one year anniversary with the team. She’s never fit in, despite everyone’s efforts and fawning attention from Beast Boy (Brandon Soo Hoo). The Titans are hot on the trail of a religious despot, Brother Blood (Gregg Henry); and his legion of followers, the H.I.V.E. The mission to capture Blood takes second stage to the coupling of Nightwing (Sean Maher) and Starfire (Kari Wahlgren). The elders of the group have decided to move in together. As love permeates the team, Damian Wayne (Stuart Allen), the new Robin, senses something is amiss with the group and H.I.V.E. His instincts are correct. Deathstroke, voiced by Miguel Ferrer before his death, has been manipulating them to a sinister end.
The Judas Contract has quite a few characters interacting at a personal level. The film pulls this off while successfully adhering to the overall H.I.V.E. plot. The blooming love affair between Starfire and Nightwing is hilarious. The comedy relief comes from the fawning pair dropping wicked double entendres about their sex life. Then there is the back story of Terra, how she came to the Titans, and how emotionally fragile her character is. This is potent stuff. As a troubled teen, her problems are many, but nuanced. The film gives her a lot of depth, more so than expected in an animated story.
Deathstroke is the primary villain with tentacles in everything. He’s the best part of The Judas Contract. His secret agenda is well played, but far more interesting is his hatred for the proteges of Batman. Slade Wilson has a visceral dislike for Damien Wayne and Dick Grayson. They robbed him of his place in the League of Shadows; stole his mantle as the heir to Ra’s Al Gul. Deathstroke gets his revenge, but vastly underestimates Nightwing. This is, by far, the best showdown in the film.
The Judas Contract doesn’t offer anything new artistically. It looks the same as the previous Teen Titans offering, but that’s neither good nor bad. The action scenes are enough eye candy. There are some graphically violent scenes, one in particular concerning Terra’s character. These films are not meant for younger children. The sexual innuendos alone warrant the PG-13 rating.
The further adventures of the Teen Titans look promising. Damian Wayne has become a more interesting character since his introduction in Son of Batman. Starfire is the leader of the Titans, but Nightwing solidifies himself as the most capable hero. He takes boot to ass here, befitting his training from the Dark Knight. The Justice League has viable competition. Warner Brothers Animation has a fantastic new entry in the DC universe.