2018 has had no shortage of big events happen... and it's only July. In a year where superhero movies are making very significant strides across the board, one of the most significant is surprisingly this weekend's release of Teen Titans Go! to the Movies.
As a film, it's not just important in the sense that it's the first movie for the Teen Titans as a brand, or the first theatrical movie in 16 years since the failed Powerpuff Girls Movie to be based on a Cartoon Network original series. (Yes, there was Regular Show: The Movie, released in 2015, but that had a very limited theatrical run.) It's also big in what it represents in terms of fandom and the increasingly aggressive and toxic discourse that has dominated geek news over the course of the year, the last month in particular.
Teen Titans Go! has always realized that it's the redheaded stepchild of animated superhero shows. As a spinoff of a beloved 2003 series, Go! came out with the odds stacked heavily against it. Not only was it a comedy-heavy take on the incredibly popular Teen Titans, it was coming hot off the heels of the recently canceled Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. Since its release, it's been hard to talk about the series without vitriol being spewed its way. The hate has died down slightly since its premiere, but it's still there, and the movie seems to have helped stoke those fires even more.
Amazingly, rather than just let the hate roll off its shoulders, Titans Go! instead is doing what no other show on the air right now is really able to, and that's refuse to take the abuse and guff from fans of the original series, or people who just dislike it and feel the need to tear it down. Even though the show has made it clear repeatedly that this fury comes from a very loud vocal minority, it hasn't stopped it from using those detractors as comedy fodder, or the gateway to its warped idea of a moral lesson about self acceptance.
At the end of the day, Teen Titans Go! knows how harmless and disposable it is, and wants everyone to know disliking it for being something it never set out to be is something only a loser does, hence Control Freak being a stand in for those fans. It's amazing how it's allowed to be so openly hostile to those that dislike it, how it continues to make fun of those people just through the sheer act of continuing to exist and become the "definitive" version of the Titans for a new generation.
In a way, what Titans Go! has done in mocking its haters so frequently and freely is something Star Wars and other properties should be willing to do. This would remind those haters that their presence is neither needed not wanted, and sticking around just to heap on vitriol makes them ripe for being dunked on. It's been shown that when some fans dislike something, they will be as cruel as possible to make it clear. Teen Titans Go! provides a harsh lesson to this sort of person: If you're going to be constantly hateful, then you don't deserve to be treated with kid gloves.
Even if Titans Go! tanks at the box office (which it does;t appear to have to worry about), it won't really matter; at least, not in the way that its detractors want it to. Just the simple act of being the first theatrical interpretation of the characters is a victory. There's a certain degree of satisfaction in watching the show's creative team get the ultimate victory over toxic fans with the release of the movie, and even if the film fails, the show will still get the last laugh by poking fun at its own expense.
Teen Titans Go! is a small step in the grand scheme of things, but it's one that's been willing to stand its ground for five years and succeed not just in spite of its haters, but because of those haters. And that's the kind of victory the Titans will always be able to do a silly dance for.