Sure, Mission: Impossible - Fallout dominated the box office this weekend. But I wouldn’t trade the bonkers antics of Teen Titans Go! To The Movies for 100 running Tom Cruises and 20 Henry Cavill mustaches.
In her review, Tori Preston swiftly summarized the glorious goofiness of the TV show from which the movie is spun off, and praised Teen Titans Go! To The Movies as “a seriously clever send-up of the entire genre of superhero movies.” And now that we’re past opening weekend, I want to talk spoilers, because the very best jokes in this dizzying DC property are the ones that outright mock the darkness of the DCEU.
Spoilers for Teen Titans Go! To The Movies below.
In a world where superhero movies fill every theater, Robin is hungry for one of his own. But even as Alfred, the Batmobile, and Batman’s utility belt get their own spinoffs, he and his fellow Teen Titans are ignored by Hollywood. In fact, the world’s top superhero-movie director, Jade Wilson (Kristen Bell), says she would only make a movie about the Teen Titans if they were the last superheroes on Earth. Cue the Back To the Future theme, because this crazy crew will time-travel to unravel the origin stories of the Justice League.
With a rousing EDM number, they save Krypton from destruction, thereby preventing Superman from being shipped off to Earth. Raven snatches Diana’s truth lasso away, preventing the rise of Wonder Woman. They urge the Wayne family to maybe NOT traipse down “Crime Alley,” because seriously WHY WOULD YOU EVER TRAVEL THROUGH A PLACE CALLED CRIME ALLEY. And, in my favorite, most insanely dark gag, Robin tosses the plastic ring from a six-pack of soda into the ocean to tangle a baby Aquaman who swims blissfully below.
Yeah. The Teen Titans used pollution to murder Aquaman.
In this exclusive clip from #TeenTitansGOMovie, the could-be superheroes do some time travel, yo!— Fandango (@Fandango) August 1, 2018
(pssst, it's one of the best superhero movies of the year and it's in theaters NOW) pic.twitter.com/fTmVuu0VYG
And then the movie just keeps moving. When the world is predictably in shambles because of this dearth of heroes, they take one more spin on their time-traveling Big Wheel bikes and let Krypton crumble, teach Diana to double-dutch with her lasso, rescue the would-be drowned Aquaman, and not only shove the Mr. and Mrs. Wayne down Crime Alley for their fated murders, but also Raven adds an iconic finishing touch, placing those ready-to-bust pearls around poor Martha’s neck!
Now, kiddos may not catch that Cyborg drowned Aquababy or that Raven just made Bruce Wayne’s childhood a touch more dramatically tragic. But those in the know are invited to positively howl at this brazenly irreverent and unapologetically macabre jokes. Yeah, there’s also digs at the best-forgotten Green Lantern movie, and a re-enactment of the insane silliness of the steely “MY MOM IS A MARTHA TOO!” moment of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. But it’s the Aquaman gag that’s kept me giggling for days after I saw Teen Titans Go! To The Movies.
For one thing, it’s just SO dark a joke that it’s positively shocking they worked it into a movie for young children. It’s a delicious surprise! But for another, it’s a giddy send-up of DC Entertainment’s insistence on keeping even their wildest properties SO SERIOUS. It’s a moment of tossing caution to wind—and Aquababy to the sharks—showing what fun can be had if we lighten up a bit.
Taking the making of superhero movies seriously, need not mean making the heroes so serious. Thankfully, DC’s loosened their grip on grit with the manic comedy of Suicide Squad and the radiant verve of Wonder Woman. Though Teen Titans Go! To The Movies isn’t a part of the DCEU, it is a Warner Bros. production, just like the rest. So, here’s hoping its DCEU-mocking is a sign the studio’s ready to mix it up some more. Because how seriously are we meant to take Aquaman when you’ve got underwater women in heels and Jason Momoa as its sexy, shirt-hating hero.
That’s absurd! And that’s okay! Fingers crossed, Aquaman will be DCEU’s Thor: Raganrok. Pushing the franchise to embrace its lunacy alongside its dramatic tales of daring do, while daring to have some fun with it. Because, to take a cue from the DC villain that moviemakers are currently obsessed with, “Why so serious?”