Reboots and remakes are not easy to perfect. They must strive to provide a story that will captivate and entertain audiences while respecting the source material. Reviewing a remake is not easy either because it can be judged based on how it compares to the original, or how it stands on its own, which brings us to Teen Titans Go! and the mixed reactions it has received.
The show follows the adventures and everyday life of the superhero group composed of teenagers from DC comics, the Teen Titans. The team consists of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Cyborg, and Beast Boy. Together they protect Jump City from various supervillains and criminals.
The two shows differ in terms of tone, art style, comedy, characterization of the Titans, and target audience. Many fans of the original show do not approve of the newest portrayal of the Titans. Before I continue, I should clarify that there may be some bias towards the original but I will do my best to give a fair assessment of the show’s newest incarnation.
When watching the show I noticed it uses a brighter palette than the original, and the design is more in the style of a western cartoon, which differs from the anime-esque style of the original. I can see this new style appealing to a younger audience, but I prefer the original. Many voice actors from the original show also star in the new version and do a good job reprising their roles. It is also nice that they acknowledge and allude to the previous iteration of the show, but that is at times a double edged sword.
Regarding the Titans as characters, I found them unpleasant to watch. They’ve all been dumbed down and made wackier, acting more like children than teenagers. I found it unbelievable to see Robin as a leader since his teammates rarely listen, he hardly makes use of the skills he learned from Batman, and he switches from being a serious stick in the mud to being just as silly as everyone else. The lack of consistency in the show was annoying when I watched it. Starfire comes off as being too ditzy when it comes to Earth customs. While many portrayals of her character highlight her ignorance, she also is capable of learning about her surroundings. I did not see her as such. I found Raven to be the most tolerable of the bunch, though she alternates between dead pan serious and goofy like Robin, and for some reason is made a brony. That last part isn’t so much a critique as it is just a weird decision on the writer’s part. Then there’s Beast Boy and Cyborg, who I’m critiquing simultaneously because they’re identical personality-wise. The most annoying parts of the show usually focused on these two being childish, annoying best friends who selfishly disregard the rest of the team.
I feel like fans of the 2003 show or the comics will find the show cringe-worthy cause I know I did. The team has usually been characterized as being a diverse with their personalities and issues. Despite these differences, they not only worked well as a team but were close friends. This show rarely has them working together as a team unless it’s to resolve the conflict at the last minute and I find it difficult to accept that they are all friends, save for Beast Boy and Cyborg. Their behavior feels like it belongs in Spongebob Squarepants rather than the Teen Titans. They hold little respect for one another and it feels like they only get along for convenience sake.
What irritates me the most is when the show tries to be meta and address the criticism that it receives. They’ve brought up several times in the show how people do not like how silly they are and how it isn’t like the more mature, serious 2003 version. Yet they don’t try to fix any issues with the show. I tried to remember that this is aimed at a younger audience, and that they need to write simpler stories and characters. I can also see them trying to do something new and original. I still think that isn’t an excuse to not write characters with more depth and be more relatable. At the very least I think that they should avoid resorting to lazy, low-brow humor like fart jokes or annoying songs.
Those who defend this new show claim that it is either trying to parody the original or to take a new approach to the superhero show. I have taken this into consideration because I did want to give this show a chance and I do admit that it is an interesting idea trying to make a comedic superhero show but these justifications don’t work in this particular case. If it is trying to parody the original, I think they failed. When they try to poke fun at the Titans, it either holds no merit or has no subtlety in its critiques. For instance, they point out several times how Robin is the team leader yet is the only one without powers, suggesting that he isn’t a good leader. This doesn’t hold because Robin has usually made up for this with his acrobatics, fighting style, and detective skills which he learned from Batman. By making these jokes running gags, the characters feel like they never learn their lesson and make the same mistakes over and over again. Which also means that it doesn’t work as an original show because it references the previous version repeatedly and introduces characters that people will only know about if they watched the 2003 version.
Lastly, they fail at managing to remake the characters. An example of a good remake would be comparing 1960’s Adam West Batman from the 1980’s Michael Keaton’s Batman. The 60’s Batman was much more silly and absurd while the 80’s version was more dark and serious. Yet they both kept Batman as a hero capable of using his intellect, gadgets, and fighting skills to protect Gotham from the forces of evil. Different tones, yet same character. The 2003 and 2016 Titans don’t feel the same to me, the latter feels like it’s trying to do a bad impersonation the former.
Overall, this show is not good. It fails both as a remake and as its own unique work. If you aren’t convinced, watch an episode for yourself but I do not recommend it. If you’re a fan of the Teen Titans, do not watch this; I suggest sticking to the 2003 version.