Amidst all the other attempts being made at bringing the characters of DC Comics to the big screen, this week seems to bring the most likely contender. Teen Titans! Go To The Movies is a feature adaptation of the super-popular “Teen Titans Go!” show on Cartoon Network featuring versions of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg and Beast Boy that are heavily influenced by anime and offbeat, “Ren & Stimpy” style dialogue and humor.
In the movie the team is up against their greatest adversary: Irrelevance. As so many characters are getting movies of their own, Robin feels they need one of their own as well. Hollywood doesn’t agree, and neither do the older heroes. So they set out to get the kind of adversary everyone says they need, picking Slade Wilson (voiced by Will Arnett) to be the bad guy. When he puts all the other heroes under some form of mind control, it turns to the Titans to save the day.
Shenanigans are being engaged in on the poster, which shows director’s chairs lined up with the names of each of the Titans on the back. Raven is sitting still reading the script while Starfire is turned around laughing at Beast Boy chasing Cyborg’s disembodied head – the rest of him is still in his chair – around, much to the frustration of Robin.
A couple efforts pivoted off the Justice League movie and its campaign. First was a one-sheet that put the Titans on the same black background as the teaser for JL, with the copy presented in the same manner as that poster. Except here it reads “They can’t save the world at all,” with various letters replaced by one of the symbols associated with the characters.
Second was a series of character posters had each one of the Titans on the red carpet of a movie premiere looking up at the live action cinematic incarnation of another DC hero. So Robin is looking up at Ben Affleck’s Batman, Raven at Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and so on. Each one is making some sort of comment on the adult hero, expressing either dismay that they’re more famous or admiration.
The red carpet idea is continued on the theatrical poster, which shows Robin and the team standing triumphantly in front of a theater marquee, Slade wrapped up in the carpet. The same “The super hero movie to end all super hero movies. Hopefully” copy is used here as on the first teaser.
The first teaser made it clear that the movie wouldn’t be anything out of left field but retain the style and tone of the show. Robin introduces it despite the hijinks of the rest of the team, who share a great self-aware joke about how everyone really just wants more Wonder Woman. When we finally get footage from the film, it’s centered around a fight with a bad guy that ends with a fart joke. Before it’s over they get one more dig at the rest of DC’s cinematic schedule – this time calling out Aquaman – in, to great effect.
In the first full trailer we get a much better idea of what the movie’s story will be. Robin is feeling left out as movies are made about literally every other super hero – even Alfred – and wants the Titans to get their day in the spotlight as well. One of the problems is that they don’t do much and don’t have a nemesis. They decide Slade Wilson fits that bill, but he’s not interested. Eventually they do wind up facing off against him as he enslaves all the other heroes and they have to save them and the day.
So it’s a reverse Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back? Instead of trying to stop a movie from being made they’re determined *to* get one made. As with the first teaser this is funny along the same lines as the show. And the “I’m not Deadpool” gag is pretty great.
Online and Social
A version of the key art graces the front page of the movie’s official website, which has some positive quotes talking about how fun and entertaining it is up one corner and links to its Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the other.
If you scroll down the site or navigate using the content menu on the left you can find sections like “Trailers,” “The Story,” “Videos,” “Pictures” and more. There are some casual games and information on the film’s promotional partners there as well.
Back to Twitter briefly, special attention needs to be paid to the many posts that tweaked not only DC’s nose but Marvel’s as well. There were jokes about GDRP, participation in memes and trending topics, continued jokes about confusing Deathstroke with Deadpool, nods in the direction of Ryan Reynolds given the appearance of a Green Lantern in this movie and lots more. I don’t know how they got half this stuff approved through legal, but it’s lots of fun.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
The first TV spot came out in mid-March and featured the same fart joke as the trailer as well as the same meta humor about every super hero having a movie about them being made. We get a good look at Superman and other heroes as well as Green Lantern John Stewart, who makes a joke about the GL movie being one they don’t talk about.
The movie was among those Warner Bros. promoted at San Diego Comic-Con by placing the name and key art on the bags given out to convention attendees. Members of the cast also showed up around the convention. Prior to that there was also a screening at VidCon.
There were a few promotional partners for the movie, but those efforts don’t seem to have amounted to very much. Dippin’ Dots offered a sweepstakes and collectible spoons, Carl’s Jr. put movie toys in their kid’s meals and so on.
Media and Publicity
While I don’t usually include casting announcements in this section, the news revealing additional voice cast was notable enough since it included Nicolas Cage finally getting to play Superman, something he was unable to do around 20 years ago despite being cast in a pre-Superman Returns movie that (cough) never got off the ground. An interview with Arnett in EW’s summer movie preview issue had him talking about voicing Slade Wilson/Deathstroke.
L’il Yachty, who voices Green Lantern John Stewart in the movie, released a music video introducing all the characters.
As one of the biggest names in the cast, Arnett continued to be a focal point of the press tour, including an appearance on “Colbert” where he talked about the movie and lots of other stuff as well.
It’s hard to deny just how fun this campaign has been. It really comes off as simply a big-screen version of one of the show’s regular episodes, just with more cameos from the bigger super heroes and a more meta storyline. It’s kept all the elements that have made the show so popular, though, adding to that instead of trying to replace anything. That’s why I think there’s a decent chance it will connect with audiences this week and provide a decent alternative to anyone not interested in the latest Mission: Impossible outing.
Chris Thilk is a freelance writer and content strategist who lives in the Chicago suburbs.