Typically when an animated movie attempts to portray a story arc directly from the comics books, it doesn’t work out well. Animators often feel the need to add aspects to their adaptations which come across as convoluted and unnecessary. A perfect example of this is the Killing Joke, animated film with its addition of Bruce and Barbara sexual relationship. Not only did it do nothing further the story or character, it made the entire premise of the film problematic in various different ways. Though there are a select group of animated movies which successful depict the story they’re influenced from and one of them is Teen Titans: The Judas Contract.
The Judas Contract was released online on April 4th, 2017. The voice actors from Jusice League vs Teen Titans returned to this film since the film connects to the current DC Animated film universe or the DCAU. Sean Maher as Nightwing, Stuart Allan as Robin, Taissa Farminga as Raven, Brandon Soo Hoo as Beast Boy, Jake T. Austin as Blue Beetle and Kari Wahlgren as Starfire.
The film is an adaptation of the classic Teen Titans comic, The Judas Contract, in which H.I.VE hires Deathstroke to capture the Titans. The movie uses the same plot but with some minor changes that don’t affect the plot.
What makes The Judas Contract one of the best D.C animated movies in the last five years is the pacing. The movie is a fairly short with an hour and 24 minute running time,however, the animators and writers do not waste a second of it. The Judas Contract does what even some live action movies have trouble doing. It gives each character and subplot screen time without making it same like it’s taking away from the plot. These moments feel organic and the pacing also keeps the story from becoming stale and boring. It is fast enough that plot doesn’t drag on and make the audience feel like watching it is a chore.
The characters of the movie are also another high point in The Judas Contract. The animators give most of these characters endearing qualities and make them likable. While a few of them are weaker than others, they are, for the most part, strong and rounded characters. The one who stands out the most is Deathstroke. The movie redeems the character from his lukewarm representation in Son of Batman. He’s the type of villain that you hate, yet love,and resent yourself for doing so. Slade is a fairly straight forward character. He’s a mercenary who does illegal and immoral things for money. There is nothing particularly innovative about that factor of him; what makes him so interesting are his characteristic and mannerisms. His personality and charisma make you laugh until you realize what he’s actually doing. The mark of a good villain is someone who can gain the audience attention and obtain their fondness, despite their depraved actions. This is exactly what happens with Deathstroke. While most viewers likely hate his actions, they can’t help but be drawn in by his personality.
While there are high points when it comes to the characters, there are also low points. Brother Blood and H.I.V.E pales in comparison as antagonists to Deathstroke. They have the complexity of classic James Bond villains. They just want to take over the world because of reasons, I guess. Their plan is never actually explained. All they talk about is getting power to rule the world since they can. We never learn why they want to take over the world. They’re just crazy religious zealots who like power.
Another weak area of the film is Terra and Beast Boy’s interaction. It is suppose to be portrayed as a love story, however it comes across as sexual harassment. Terra repeatedly tells him that she is not interested in him and he responds by catcalling her and, making advance toward her even when she makes it clear she does not reciprocate feelings. It is problematic and messy. What makes it even worse is that Terra eventually shows feeling for him. This sends a message that all a man has to do is bother a woman, and make her uncomfortable enough, and she’ll end up loving him. Not only is it sexist, it is an insult to women who have survived, and still deal with sexual harassment.
So overall this film gets a 4 out of 5. While the story and characters are great, Beast Boy’s actions and Hive’s lack of character hold it back from a 5.
Author: Jaylen Pearson
Editor: Han Angus
Keshav Kant, aka Mx. KantEven, is a neuroscience nerd turned Creative Consultant and Executive Director of Off Colour!
You’ve probably seen her on TikTok or caught her work on Off Colour's many channels. From consulting on films & shows, manuscript review, conducting interviews, or hosting podcasts & panels, if there is some way to bring sensitivity and authenticity to diversity, inclusion and equity conversations, Keshav will be there.