As is the case for most people that grew up in the mid-2000s, Cartoon Network’s afternoon and Friday night blocks were very important to me. It was my first exposure to things like YuYu Hakusho, Dragon Ball Z, Gundam Wing, and perhaps most importantly, it was my gateway into comic books, through shows like Justice League Unlimited, and of course, Teen Titans.
Teen Titans was and still is very special to me. Many a night were spent on the couch with my dad watching it as a child and as an adult, I’ve grown to appreciate it more. From it’s great cast of characters to the phenomenal overall structure of the series, Teen Titans sets a high bar for the superhero genre in animation. Which of course made it hurt all the more when the show met an untimely cancellation in 2006, leaving on a cliffhanger that has remained unresolved to this day, as the film Trouble in Tokyo doesn’t mention it at all, despite serving as the series finale. The sudden cancellation and unresolved feelings in regards to the final proper episode coupled together to make for a whirlwind response from fans when the pseudo-reboot, Teen Titans Go!, made it’s debut as part of the DC Nation block in 2013.
Retaining the original voice cast but adopting a far different art style, Teen Titans Go! is a comedy with extremely limited connection to the original, outside of a joke here and there, much to the chagrin of fans of the original. Never getting proper closure for the beloved show and then losing the one that filled the gap, Young Justice, only to have the perceived replacement for both of them have none of the serious subject matter or characterization that made them so special felt like a slap in the face to fans. That perception is the problem though: it’s not meant to replace the version of it you know and love. In a vacuum, removed from the feelings one might have about the original Teen Titans, Go!, is actually quite good. I’ve had more than a few laughs at it, which is the whole point: to make the viewer laugh.
All reboots, sequels, spin-offs and re-imaginings take on this same problem – the idea that someone somewhere is taking the thing that you grew up with and love, and are going to destroy or ruin that thing. It happened with the 2016 Ghostbusters, it happened with Robocop in 2014, it’s happened with Star Wars more times than I can keep track of, and it’s going to happen again with something else before 2019. These new versions of these properties aren’t out to usurp the ones that you know; most times they’re spearheaded by people who love them all the same as you do and want to put their own spin on it, or update it for a new audience. The target audience of Teen Titans Go! doesn’t have any memories of the original show, considering it ended eleven years ago, but your memories of it aren’t going anywhere. The version of it that you know and love will always exist, no matter how catchy Beast Boy’s “Catching Villains” track is.
Then again, I might just be over analyzing things.