Warning: SPOILERS for Teen Titans Go! To The Movies
As anyone who watches Executive Producer Lauren Faust, will present the same idea of a superhero team made up of teenage girls, but with the characters maintaining secret identities in a regular high school and a greater emphasis on the character’s personal problems when they aren’t fighting crime.
The short, The Late Batsby, focuses on Batgirl (Tara Strong) as she rushes to catch up with her friends when they go off to fight Mr. Freeze on a school-night, while she’s stuck waiting for her dad to go to bed before she can sneak out. Those who are familiar with Faust’s work may recognize this story, as the episode is a longer version of Time Waits For No Girl – the second episode of the Super Best Friends Forever series of shorts, which Faust produced for Cartoon Network’s DC Nation animation block. This was the same block which first introduced Teen Titans Go!
The Opening Credit Production Logos
Usually the long display of production company logos at the start of a movie is something to be endured before the film finally starts. In the case of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, they help to set the tone for what follows. The stoic WB Shield in the center of the Warner Animation logo serves as a maypole for an old-school Daffy Duck who acts, well, daffy, hopping around while shouting “Woo-hoo! Woo-hoo!” until he is finally wrangled by a disgruntled Porky Pig.
The new DC logo – which first appeared before the credits of Wonder Woman – is replicated with the characters animated in the style of Teen Titans Go! rather than the more serious artwork used in the original. We are then treated to a rapid-fire flipping of pages from classic George Perez Teen Titans comics (Perez co-created the characters of Cyborg, Raven and Starfire with writer Marv Wolfman) in a clear imitation of the classic Marvel Comics company logo. Before we see a logo, however, it is revealed that the pages really are from a comic book, being read by the seagull who frequently perches outside Titans Tower in Teen Titans Go!
Welcome To Jump City – Safer Than Gotham!
The opening scene of the movie establishes Jump City – the metropolitan area that the Teen Titans sort-of protect when they aren’t singing songs or making fart jokes. There are a number of nods to the original Teen Titans Go! series here, with a cameo by Beast Boy’s homeless pal Sticky Joe and a smiling Plastic Man in the sign proclaiming the town’s name. Jump City is declared “safer than Gotham” despite a surprising number of supervillain-owned businesses, such as Laz-R-Us Spa and Nails (note Ra’s Al Ghul’s face in the window in the picture above), Clay Face Dermatology (mud packs a speciality!) and the Body By Bane gym. The Captain Cold Cuts and Mr. Freeze Pops leave us cold, though.
Not to be outdone, there appear to be a number of superhero themed businesses as well. There’s a Green Lantern symbol in the “O” of the hotel above Vibe Records, next door to a club called The Arrow Room, which features a green arrow in its sign. The Flash apparently lent his logo to a restaurant called Fastest Food. And for those looking for a more serious nod to the comics, the skyscrapers for Wayne Enterprises, LexCorp and Queen Industries can be seen in the distance and a later scene reveals the headquarters of Lord Technologies – the company of Justice League International founder Maxwell Lord.
Getting The Business End Of Things
More superhero and super-villain themed businesses are visible in the background, as the Teen Titans battle a bank robber called Balloon Man. While kids and juvenile minds may laugh at how Beast Boy punctures Balloon Man’s butt with some well placed porcupine quills (resulting in a sizable fart noise, of course), the eagle-eyed fan may spot quite a few Easter Eggs as Balloon Man tries to cover his shame.
While we’d probably pass on any of the bread products at Sinestrolls and Buns, we’d gladly give Endless Fries a try even if their fry baskets weren’t truly endless outside of the realm of The Dreaming. Darkseid is looking more glamorous than ever on the sign for Apokolips and Lashes – perfectly dressed for a night out at The Ror Shack. Then again, it might be a good idea to stay home, as the graffiti on the side of the Ace Chemical building suggests The Joker is on the loose again.
Titans V. Superman: Brawn Of Justice
Balloon Man almost gets away, thanks to the Teen Titans stopping to sing an 80s-style rap song about who they are. This is prompted by Balloon Man mistaking them for obscure Justice League members at first, before asking if they are the Guardians of The Galaxy. Thankfully, Superman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern John Stewart just happen by at that moment and put a stop to Balloon Man’s crime spree as he’s in the middle of robbing The Pyggy Bank – a nod to Batman villain Professor Pyg.
Superman is quick to give the Titans a dressing down for their not taking crime-fighting as seriously as they should. He also confirms their status as jokes in the superhero community. When they respond to this by throwing a rubber chicken in his face, The Man of Steel sighs, face-palms and mutters, “Somebody save me” in reference to the theme song of Smallville.
Superman, it should be noted, is voiced by actor Nicholas Cage. Cage is rather famous for his love of comic books in general and Superman in particular. He’s such a huge Superman fan that he named his son (who can be heard playing the role of a young Bruce Wayne) Kal-El. Cage also almost played The Man of Steel in a live-action Superman movie that was to be directed by Tim Burton.
There’s another blink-and-you’ll miss it billboard gag here, with one billboard behind Superman promoting a Kingdom Come movie. Set in a dark future where the heroes of old have largely been replaced by a new generation of violent anti-heroes no better than the villains they fight, Kingdom Come details how Superman returns to the world he felt abandoned his ideals and fights to save it. The classic graphic novel by writer Mark Waid and artist Alex Ross is considered one of the greatest stories set in the DC Comics Universe and perhaps the number one pick of many comics fans when asked what stories they’d like to see adapted for film.
Seriously – Who Are The Challengers of the Unknown?
After finding out that they aren’t on the list to get into the premiere of the latest Batman movie, the Teen Titans use Raven’s ability to open a portal anywhere to sneak into the theater and clear some seats by sending the Challengers of the Unknown into another dimension. This sets up two running gags – how ridiculously easy fights would be if Raven didn’t keep forgetting about half her powers, and how utterly obscure the Challengers of the Unknown are.
Surprisingly, the Challengers of the Unknown were quite big in the early days of The Silver Age of Comics. Created by legendary comic book writer and artist Jack Kirby, the Challengers were a team of four men who miraculously survived a plane crash unscathed, who sought out new, impossible challenges as explorers and adventurers. The team was popular enough that some speculate it may have inspired The Fantastic Four at Marvel Comics, which utilized the same premise but made one of the four heroes a woman and gave them all superpowers.
The trailers leading into the new Batman movie (which is titled Batman Again) start to get Robin’s hopes up about the possibility that he might have gotten a movie based on his exploits. Sadly, the trailers turn out to be for movies based upon Alfred the Butler, The Batmobile and The Utility Belt. To add insult to injury, the entire crowd of superheroes in attendance mock Robin for thinking they’d ever make a movie about a sidekick – even his fellow sidekicks like Kid Flash and Speedy!
Funny as this is, the whole sequence is also a metatexual commentary on how DC Comics can’t seem to stop making Batman-inspired movies. Granting that a movie based around The Batmobile is clearly meant to be an exaggeration, it doesn’t seem so far fetched given that the trailer for Bumblebee was screened before Teen Titans Go! To The Movies. And with six Joker movies currently in varying stages of production along with Batgirl and Nightwing solo movies, it’s fair to say that Warner Bros. has gone batty.
All The Mock Movie Posters
For sheer volume, the single-largest source of sight gags in the movie is the mock posters for various movies based on DC Comics’ superheroes. Most of these are seen after Robin leaves the Batman Again premiere and when the Teen Titans are wandering the Warner Bros. movie lot. There are quite a few shots fired at Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, with a Batman vs. Joker movie called “Yawn of Justice” and a Batgirl V. Supergirl poster whose smiling heroines suggest a far-more lighthearted film, where the “V” stands for “Valentine.”
There might be a market for Jonah Rex – the tale of a horribly disfigured dinosaur wandering the American West as a hero for hire. There are probably also enough musical fans to justify a Gotham Sirens Musical. The same can’t be said for Green Lantern Core, about an apple core that becomes a Green Lantern, or What’s Up Doc? starring Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen.
Talking of Watchmen, there’s also a poster for a Nite-Owl solo movie, along with posters for The Atom, the Challengers of the Unknown and Wonder Woman along the side of one building in the Warner Bros. lot. There’s also a poster for a Detective Chimp movie titled The Case of the Missing Mustache.
Even without the “S” in mustache being replaced with a Superman shield, this would be a clear nod to the infamous issues with the CGI used to remove Henry Cavill’s mustache while reshooting Justice League. There’s also another reoccurring poster that shows up several times throughout the movie, depicting Cavill with Superman’s trademark spit-curl and a mustache.
Related: Henry Cavill’s Mustache Explained
All The Superhero Cameos
While most of them don’t get speaking roles, virtually all of DC Comics’ A-list heroes and quite a lot of the B and C-list show up in the crowd at the Batman Again screening and walking around the Warner Bros. movie lot. All of the core Justice League are in attendance, with Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Aquaman, Green Lantern (John Stewart) and Martian Manhunter making an apperance. Green Arrow and Black Canary are also there, along with fellow Justice League members Vixen, Elongated Man, Black Lightning, Metamorpho, Red Tornado, Zatanna, Animal Man, Steel, the Ted Kord Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, Shazam and Plastic Man.There’s even a few JSA members like Hawkman, Power Girl and The Spectre representing the first superhero team in history.
Looking to the next generation of heroes, you can also spot Supergirl, the Barbara Gordon Batgirl, Speedy (Roy Harper), Aqualad, Kid Flash, Wonder Girl (Donna Troy) and The Wonder Twins, Zan and Jayna. Fans of Young Justice will be pleased to know that Miss Martian, Superboy and Artemis put in an appearance as well. Rounding out the cameos, there are a few odd-ball choices such as Swamp Thing, Detective Chimp, western hero Jonah Hex and Krypto the Superdog. Perhaps the most obscure cameo of all, however, is that of Amethyst – Princess of Gemworld – a fantasy heroine with a solo book from the 1980s.
Lex Luthor, Sinestro and… the Rainbow Raider?
As the Teen Titans ponder how they can earn their own movie, they realize that they lack the one thing every truly great hero needs to be taken seriously – an arch-enemy. After all, Superman has Lex Luthor, Green Lantern has Sinestro and The Flash has… the Rainbow Raider! Yes, the Rainbow Raider – more colorful than Gorilla Grodd and more annoying than The Trickster, he has the power to fly around on rainbow bridges and fire light beams that change a person’s emotions. An intelligent criminal might make use of such powers, but Roy. G. Bivolo was kind of an idiot, cursed with a lack of imagination and total color-blindness.
Young Roy was an aspiring artist, held back only by the fact that nobody would buy his paintings because everything was the wrong colors. His father, an optometrist, devoted his life to trying to cure his son’s color-blindness and failed miserably, instead creating the goggles that gave Roy his powers. When Roy isn’t trying to create perfect forgeries of classic works where the colors are all wrong, he’s robbing art museums and destroying classic works so that the only art in the world will be his.
Related: 15 Worst Flash Villains Of All Time
Remember: Deadpool Totally Ripped Slade Off!
Slade (Will Arnett) is quick to point out that he has been around “way longer” than Wade Wilson, when the Teen Titans mistake him for Deadpool. One can hardly blame him for him for being a bit sensitive about the mix-up, as Deadpool was a straight-up rip-off of Slade when he first appeared in New Mutants #98. This was over a decade after Deathstroke The Terminator first encountered the Teen Titans in New Teen Titans #2. Even the names (Wade Wilson vs. Slade Wilson) are a dead giveaway.
The “Subtle” Stan Lee Cameo
As the Teen Titans are walking the Warner Bros. movie lot, they stop to talk and a familiar looking old man, who is sweeping the pavement behind them, starts shifting position so he is always in the shot as Robin moves around. The man quickly reveals himself as Stan Lee, come to make one of his famous “subtle cameos“. After striking a few poses, Stan is quietly informed that this is a DC Comics’ movie – an announcement that leaves Stan hurriedly exiting the picture. He shows up again later, in an equally subtle manner, during a chase scene, having decided that he doesn’t care if this is a Marvel movie or not – he loves doing cameos that much!
The Inevitable Martha Joke
Naturally, a joke had to be made at the expense of the most infamous moment from Batman V. Superman. At one point superhero movie auteur Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell) is directing a scene for a movie where Batman fights Superman. Batman (voiced by Jimmy Kimmel, doing his best Christian Bale growl) asks Superman what his mother’s name is. When he replies Martha, there is much manly hugging… until Batman asks what his father’s name is and the fight is back on.
“Let’s Go Back To The Future – I Mean, The Past!”
It may be stretching the definition of Easter Egg to call Teen Titans Go! To The Movies’ Back To The Future references Easter Eggs as they are hardly hidden. The movie uses the actual dramatic music from the movie as well as the Huey Lewis song Back In Time as part of a time-travel montage and Raven makes a reference to buying plutonium from Libyan terrorists. Thankfully, for the sake of originality, the Teen Titans use the one mode of transportation more 80s than a Delorean – Big Wheel Power Cycles! Specifically, their “time cycles” seem to be modeled on the Knight Rider variant of the classic toy, which featured a lever that would allow the lucky kid driving it to spin-out in a manner to do David Hasslehoff proud.
All The Nods To Superman: The Movie
Even the classic DC Comics’ movies most agree were great do not escape being the mockery of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies. The Titans’ first stop on their journey into the past is the planet Krypton, as depicted in Superman: The Movie, where they save the planet through the power of dubstep. Later, Cyborg and Beast Boy prank-call Superman pretending to be Lois Lane, claiming they need to be saved from one of Gene Hackman’s real-estate schemes. Naturally the ring-tone on Superman’s phone is the classic John Williams’ Superman fanfare.
All The Other Batman Easter Eggs
Talking of the music, we hear Danny Elfman’s classic Batman theme play as a mind-controlled Batman chases after the Teen Titans in the climax of the movie. There’s also a nod to the Bat-Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, as the Batmobile continues to shift into a motorcycle and a scooter as it takes more and more damage during the chase. Eventually Batman is forced to click his heels to reveal a pair of Bat-Skates, just like in Batman and Robin. (Granted, those were ice skates instead of roller skates, but he could have both installed in his boots -he’s Batman!)
The Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life
Perhaps the single strangest musical number in the whole film is Upbeat Inspirational Song About Life. Backed by visuals seemingly pulled directly from a Lisa Frank folder, with a keytar playing white tiger voiced by Michael Bolton, the animation style shifts to something more appropriate to Care Bears than Teen Titans Go! With Starfire playing an impromptu saxophone solo, the only way the whole piece could seem anymore like it came from the 1980s would be for Molly Ringwald to do a cameo.
There are so many direct nods and style tributes in Teen Titans Go! To The Movies it is impossible to name them all. Thankfully, the movie is good enough that watching it again and again to see what you might have missed is hardly a chore.