Meet the Millennial Hipster Superheroes

Teen-Titans-Go!-150

Warner Bros. Animation takes the old Teen Titans characters in a totally new direction in the upcoming Cartoon Network series.

It’s a well-known fact that some of the more recent superhero movies and TV shows have a tendency to get a bit too ponderous and brooding. Luckily, you can always rely on the funny folks at Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network to add some much-needed humor to the otherwise dreary lives of characters burdened with saving the human race over and over again. This spring, viewers will get a chance to see a completely different side of Robin, Starfire, Raven, Beast Boy and Cyborg—the feisty team known as Teen Titans, who had their own popular show for five seasons (2003-2006) on Kids! WB and Cartoon Network.

Created to play well with Cartoon Network’s other humor-driven toons such as Adventure Time and Regular Show, Teen Titans Go! zeroes in on how our teen heroes spend their time when they are not on duty. You can rest assured there are lots of opportunities to play elaborate pranks, eat junk food, go for joy rides and use their superpowers in silly ways. As the show’s exec producers Michael Jelenic and Aaron Horvath tell us, the new toon is going to be worlds apart from, say, Chris Nolan’s heavy Batman movies!

“The show was born out of the DC Nation shorts, which were made by some of the crew from the original series,” says Jelenic. “They were really successful and people seemed to love them, so [Warner Bros. Animation’s exec VP of creative affairs] Sam Register brought me and Aaron over to work on the series. We weren’t involved with the original production, but we totally get the flavor of the show. We also wanted to push it in a new comic direction.”

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go!

Jelenic also points out that he and fellow exec producer Horvath come from backgrounds that seem to be polar opposites.

“I’ve worked on traditional superhero shows such as Batman: The Brave and the Bold and ThunderCats, and Aaron has done lots of comedies such as MAD and El Tigre, and he has little knowledge of superheroes, except Batman.” he says. “So this project allowed us to merge our sensibilities and to filter these characters through a hipster millennial look.”

The producers both admit that they enjoyed the freedom they had to play with characters that were loved by fans worldwide.

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go!

“The shorts were very successful, but they were inside. You wouldn’t get some of the jokes if you didn’t know these characters and the world they live in,” says Horvath. “We wanted strong characters that we could put in any comic situation. Since we’re going from script to production and following a less traditional storyboard pipeline—straight to animatic—we’re able to really take advantage of the situations and the personalities, and fine tune the jokes.”

According to Jelenic, Teen Titans Go! is one of the least traditional superhero shows he has seen.

“I feel very comfortable saying that since we are going for some really out-of-the-box material here. We try to stay true to the core of the characters, but we try to put them in situations that we haven’t seen DC superheroes in before.

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go!

So who is the real audience for this new Warner Bros. toon?

“Our core audience is six- to 11-year-olds, but the show’s humor and spirit has a lot in common with Adventure Time and Regular Show,” says Jelenic, who began his career as an intern on Mike Judge’s hilarious King of the Hill series. “That is the type of world that our characters exist in, rather than a traditional superhero show. If you’re coming to the show to get some traditional DC superhero action, then you are going to be surprised. Our challenge is to make sure people get the tone and understand the show in terms of its comedic elements.”

As the producers explain, the show creators tried to stay away from the old “gang goes on a mission” storylines and focus instead on the teen heroes hanging out at Titan Tower.

“They are constantly doing stupid things and try to have fun, just like college kids who are hanging out at the dorm, and exploring their freedom like students do during their freshman year,” says Jelenic. “They’re constantly doing stupid things, or fighting over things that have very low stakes; for example, Raven tells them about a mythical sandwich, whose ingredients are split up across the galaxy, and they have to collect all the individual items to make this amazing sandwich.” And yes, there are episodes in which meatballs and tacos play major roles.

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go!

Horvath says the success of MAD convinced the studio brass that it was feasible to do a weekly Flash-animated series that has a fast turn-around.

MAD is visually all over the place, and with Teen Titans Go! we have the benefit of putting together tight animatics before it’s animated. We get a sense of what’s working and what’s not working before we send it to Canada [Bardel in Vancouver and Copernicus in Halifax]. The awesome thing about the process is that I can really dig into a storyboard or a scene, and do a lot of retakes in the house before we send it outside.”

Jelenic and Horvath both emphasize the fact that the show has been a labor of love for the animation team.

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go!

“The series’ directors and their team have come up with ways to really push Flash animation and make it even more complicated,” says Horvath. “Seriously, we’re very happy with the way the show looks—every background, every character—a lot of work has gone into all the details to make it a great-looking show.”

Of course, the team is quite aware of the fact that some old die-hard fans of the DC characters may not be too pleased with this brave, new approach.

“We know that some of them are very concerned about what they’re going to find in the show,” says Jelenic. “We hope they are going to be in for a pleasant surprise.”

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go!

Horvath says that it’s obvious that he and Jelenic aren’t going to imitate what Glen Murakami, the creator of the original show, did 10 years ago.

“That series had a great anime influence, but I was personally never influenced by anime. I am a huge Looney Tunes fan…Listen, if you like these characters, you are going to find that they are pretty much the same, but we’re pushing for comedic effects. This show is about hanging out with these characters, so it’s dramatically different from the old version. However, the same characters anchor both projects, so we’re hoping that will bring back the old fans, too. Maybe for the season finale, we’ll wrap up all the loose ends left over from the old series to make everyone happy! You never know!”

Cartoon Network will premiere Warner Bros. Animation’s Teen Titans Go! in April.

Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans Go!

  • annafh

    6 to 11 years olds? I’m pretty sure that the idea of a new Teen Titans would appeal the  viewers from the first time around, who would definitely be older than this. Superhero shows work better being a little broodier, with good character development and mysteries. This will disappoint older fans, even if it is fun and hilarious. I’ll still be watching it, but I’ll miss the old Titans way more.

    • Feed bhag

      “I’ll still be watching it”

      This is why networks give us crap. They know that there are people who will watch it. Even people who bash bitch and complain will still watch it. If enough people stopped watching the crap instead of begrudgingly accepting it, you would see change.

      • annafh

        By watch it, I mean watch a stream of it, since it probably won’t be out in England for god knows how long, so it doesn’t really count.

  • Mojo

    These people are so goddamn clueless, no one watched the old titans show for the one off humor episodes, which usually were forgettable and unfunny, they watched it for the seasonal arcs which were mostly emotional and dark fare. 

  • Chelsea

    I’m really looking forward to a new incarnation of Teen Titans, as I was a huge fan of the original show and will just be happy to see these characters again, even if I will probably always prefer the more serious storylines. 

    I have to disagree with the comment about recent superhero shows being “boring.” Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series are both incredibly-paced shows that balance humor, character interaction, and drama better than most live-action shows I’ve seen. I still don’t understand why Cartoon Network wants to drop them from its DC Nation lineup, when those shows essentially built the entire concept of DC Nation. Wouldn’t it be amazing if DC Nation was a way to combine dramatic superhero stories with more comedic ones? It’s what they’ve already been doing when they incorporated the DC shorts, but pairing Young Justice, Green Lantern, and Beware the Batman up with Teen Titans Go! would be a great way to expand on that idea and give old and new fans two full hours of superhero goodness with well-known characters (as well as some that rarely ever get animated shows of their own!) 

    I’ll probably be tuning in to see these new shows, but I think DC Nation is going to be a much darker place without them, though you might think it would be getting lighter. 

  • Maria

    I would have to greatly disagree with the comment about superhero shows being “to get a bit too ponderous and brooding”. Is there something wrong with a show directed at children, and attract a wider audience, having some depth to it? What, does everything children watch nowadays have to be just loud noises and flashing colours and no story? The reason people watched the original Teen Titans, and why they go back and rewatch it and buy it, is because of the amazing over arcing stories the show had. And that’s why people are watching Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series. They have extremely well thought out plots and characters. They also have humour in it that is genuine and truly funny. The latest episode of Green Lantern: The Animated Series, Babel, was extremely funny and filled with so much hope, but STILL had the over arcing plot to it. And you know what it means to be a kid’s superhero show? No matter how dark, how hopeless, and how ‘unfunny’ it gets, the good guys win. Hope returns. People get to laugh again. What is the point to a show with nothing but humour. Most comedies nowadays have over arcing plots with a bit of “pondering and brooding” in them now. Because that’s what people want. People want what’s real. They know there’s humour in the world, but they also know that there is more to it.
    That is why Young Justice and  Green Lantern: The Animated Series are perfect to be on the air and why it’s a crime to take them off of it. 

  • Kris

    Unfortunately, the people who watch DC Nation right now are mostly older than the target 6 to 11 years of age. And while the current super hero shows (Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series) are considerably more complex and dark, they do have spots of humor and lightness that do not detract from the show. We really don’t need more mindless comedies. I’d rather see our heroes doing heroic stuff. Not finding a mythical sandwich. 

  • hah

    Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series are not only two of the best superhero shows I’ve seen, but two of the best shows period.  I highly disagree with the notion that they are “boring”, they feature compelling storytelling, fantastic characterization, and deal with mature themes in a way that is accessible to all audiences.  I have watched both shows with people of many different ages, and everyone got the same amount of enjoyment out of them for different reasons.  Shows that appeal to such a broad audience are rare to come by, and it would be a shame to see them go.  

  • Pug

    Is this a news article or an editorial?  If you don’t like the current DC shows and movies, fine.  Just don’t go around injecting your negative opinions in an article that’s not meant to review anything.   

    That being said, I love the dramatic shows.  They target a different audience, an older audience, than this Teen Titans will.  And that means they’re likely not to have as much humor, but that doesn’t make them bad.  It’s a matter of taste.  

    This new Teen Titans might stand out for being the most humorous title DC has at the moment, but as far as TV networks, Cartoon Network already has a lineup full of comedy shows.  So do we really need another humorous cartoon?  

    You might be tired of seeing DC’s dark side, but I’m tired of seeing animation’s funny side.

  • Denise Morales

    There’s nothing wrong with dark and emotional super hero shows, because when it comes to super heroes that’s what we want. Of course when things get too heavy it does get a bit depressing, a little bit of humor does go a long way. That’s why Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series are so great. They have deep and emotional plot lines and just enough humor so things don’t stay to intense. It’s done tastefully and it still has that essence of  ’super hero’ in the show. 

    Don’t get me wrong! I’m sure this show will be really funny and people will like it, but taking away two amazing shows that you already have seems wrong. 

    I hope you can find a way to introduce new shows, but still keep the amazing works of art you already have. 

  • Vanessa

    I don’t understand why lighthearted shows like this and dramatic shows like Young Justice and Green Lantern the animated series can’t co- exist on the same network. They both appeal to audiences and honestly do we really need ANOTHER Batman show. I just really want to continue to watch Young Justice and GLTAS

  • Pinkie

    I hate to sound bitter, but what? 

    I’ll have you know that I am 20 years old and I’ve watched every single episode of Green Lantern: The Animated Series with my 7 year old brother. He’s the key target audience and loves the show just as much as I do. He laughs at the appropriate times, he grows silent when the “moral” of each story starts to dawn on him, and overall enjoys the show. We BOTH enjoy the show. It’s sad that Green Lantern :TAS and Young Justice are being cancelled. I’m not going to “bash” on Teen Titans Go! but I’ve seen the few clips on YouTube and they are cringe worthy. They try too hard to be funny and ughh noooo stop it. It’s so awkward watching them.

  • HBP

    Seriously. I have absolutly no problem with “mission based shows” Young Justice and GLTAS are great. Mission based shows are fantastic because they have a plot and charater development. They are intriging and its hard to wait a week to see what happens next. I also loved the original Teen Titans show. Why do I get the sneaking suspision that this is going to ruin the old show. 

  • Maylovesnarwhals

    Wow and they cancelled YJ and GLTAS for this? I mean it does looks interesting……… 

  • Sian

    I hated the the ‘humorous’, self contained, episodes of the Teen Titans as a kid. The whole concept for Teen Titans Go! removes everything that was good about the original and replaces it with everything that sucked about it.
    And seriously, what’s with assuming kids can’t handle a story arc or anything with a few darker elements? When I was in kindergarten, my favourite cartoon had been initially aimed at ages 12 and up. It had the longest story arc of any kids show then on television and the kids on it would get kidnapped or threatened or sold into slavery every other episode, but I loved it and so did my friends. Not because of the darker themes, but because of the way they were represented and the way they made us *think*.
    Seriously, kids *like* story arcs. They *like* being made to think. Creators need to stop dumbing things down for them.

  • Ryuutsu

    Brooding? Since when did superhero storylines become about humor? The reason we love all those is because we relate to the characters, because they have real problems and freel real to us, not because we’re striving for some sort of comedy relief. I understand, humorous cartoons may be generally more appealing to the young audience, but they shouldn’t be underestimated either. They love good stories as much us older fans do. They don’t need their shows to be sugar-coated with humor all the time. They need the right balance of both.

    Either way, I don’t believe this justifies cancelling Young Justice or GLTAS at all, and I sincerely hope CN reconsiders that decision.

  • Regalli

    It’s not that it’s bad, but I don’t want the old DC Nation shows cancelled for this. Cartoon Network’s short on action cartoons as it is.

  • yjfanvids

    I’ve read this article at least two times now, and I still can’t understand how this is better than shows like YJ and GLTAS. CN already has millions of comedy shows, like Regular show, or the heavily advertised Incredible Crew.
    Does CN really think that kids are only interested in comedy? Do they think that kids can’t handle complex storylines? You call YJ and GLTAS brooding, I call it good quality shows.
    You can’t seriously think that anyone will wake up at 10am on Saturday to watch 5 teens frolick around trying to build a sandwich with animated tacos and meatballs. The original series was amazing, but why call it or base it on the original show if it’s not going to be related one iota to the original? So they can make money of a successful and ended franchise?
    YJ and GLTAS have amazing stories, beautiful art, and complex characters. They make you think, they keep you guessing on the plot for the entire season, it’s not a one-shot joke that repeats for 26 episodes. An entire world was built from YJ and GLTAS, and TTG is only taking the original canon and trying to make it funnier.
    Teen Titans was a great show, and had its run, with 5 seasons and a movie. Let other new shows have their moment and shine like they’re supposed to.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tiararea Tiara Rea

    ….a superhero show that’s about the heroes in their downtime?…. CN. Wtf. Seriously? **Seriously**? You’re cancelling quality, well-written, heartfelt, and, yes, funny, shows like Young Justice and Green Lantern for this? To appeal to more 7 year olds? Do you think that kids are incapable of understanding the subtle humor of these shows? That they need to be pounded over the head with gags and jokes to like something? I think you are missing the point. Shows back in the day like Batman The Animated Series never pandered to cheap shots just because the audience was young. You should take a lesson from those shows and the fans and put quality programs on the air. Don’t try to capitalize on things like Adventure Time, which are in a completely different universe from DC–Adventure Time is great because it doesn’t have to be super serious to be heartfelt, but DC superheroes are in a different genre and require something different, I think. You guys really should rethink your plan of action over there at CN.

  • http://www.facebook.com/tiararea Tiara Rea

    ….a superhero show that’s about the heroes in their downtime?…. CN. Wtf.
    Seriously? **Seriously**? You’re cancelling quality, well-written,
    heartfelt, and, yes, funny, shows like Young Justice and Green Lantern
    for this? To appeal to more 7 year olds? Do you think that kids are
    incapable of understanding the subtle humor of these shows? That they
    need to be pounded over the head with gags and jokes to like something? I
    think you are missing the point. Shows back in the day like Batman The
    Animated Series never pandered to cheap shots just because the audience
    was young. You should take a lesson from those shows and the fans and
    put quality programs on the air. Don’t try to capitalize on things like
    Adventure Time, which are in a completely different universe from
    DC–Adventure Time is great because it doesn’t have to be super serious
    to be heartfelt, but DC superheroes are in a different genre and require
    something different, I think. You guys really should rethink your plan
    of action over there at CN.

  • Rae

     What is this talk of mission shows being old and dusty… isn’t that what superheroes do, go on missions, save the world?? I understand teen groups are more funny and light, but taking out them actually saving the world… The original Teen Titans was good because it worked on balancing light and dark. You would go through a season and then suddenly there would be really serious episode and those are the ones I remember the most. The shorts can be funny, but maybe that’s how they should remain…. short. It just seems a shame these shows can’t co-exist with Young Justice and Green Lantern, that we can’t have a longer DC Nation.

  • Green

    You’ll have to excuse me if I boggle at the staggering amount of generalization and ignorance here. For someone to make a show about superheroes being anything but that and expecting it to go over well with anyone outside of the narrow 6-11 age bracket is insane. I’ve written Cartoon Network multiple times over the cancellation of Young Justice and Green Lantern and how they are missing out some some extremely lucrative multi-demographic appeal. Adventure time and Regular Show do have these qualities, but for different reasons. The fact that Cartoon Network executives have been forcing so many follow-the-leader type shows was frustrating enough, but to take an already established, excellent action oriented superhero show and bring it back as this is just an insult to the depth of the show it’s modeled on, the shows it’s replacing in the DC Nation timeslot, and to those of us who do enjoy what little action animation is present on Cartoon Network by insinuating that anything with the slightest bit of depth is too ‘brooding’ for anyone to enjoy and we should like this more because they say so.

    Teen Titans Go is a good concept for the animated short portion of DC Nation, and that’s where it should have stayed. The fact that this was greenlit as it’s own series over another season of two fantastic ones like Green Lantern and Young Justice is a travesty and I am astounded that the execs at Cartoon Network can’t see that.

  • http://twitter.com/danceinmonsoons DancinginMonsoons

    I can’t help but feel like the world is dumbing down things for kids. Instead of challenging them to think and teaching them, we are showing pointless comedy and crude humor. I have nothing against this, but this material is replacing shows that teach and inspire. It is a huge loss.

  • Pgrd

    Man, I really, really, really hope that this show isn’t as bad as it seems like it’s going to be.  If that’s what’s replacing the action shows (besides Beware the Batman, which is also replacing them) then I don’t think I’ll be getting up on Saturday mornings anymore nor tuning in on CN’s programming at all.  YJ’s pretty much the only thing I watch on CN, besides the occasional [insert other show like HtTYD] or [insert random comedy show like Regular Show or Adventure time].  If I want comedy in a superhero show, then it’s usually provided, either in the form of witty banter or funny action, but that’s not the main point of a show.  
    Guh… I don’t want to watch Teen Titans just turn into another one of those “stupid funny” shows.  Tacos and meatballs?  Really? 
    Ugh.  
    Who needs a “hipster” comedy show that there are plenty of when you can have brilliantly-written and animated action show that there are already so few of on CN?CartoonNetwork, pls.  

  • Jeff

    Ugh, okay everyone Please understand how it works in the animation industry here in north america (I’m work as a designer). Action shows don’t sell anymore. They are awesome and fun and cool but they don’t make money, but they cost a truck load per episode to make.

    Back in the 80s and 90s, the shows we watched had a lot of money from toys and merchandise coming in. Kids today don’t buy action figures like we did. More, their parents don’t buy them so the companies don’t get all of that revenue. Also cereal companies use to be the prime investor in these shows because they could advertise all of those great commercials selling sugar cereals to kids. That is illegal now. So when the government stopped that, it devastated the industries income. We had to start making cheaper, simpler shows. Studios take massive risks trying to make action shows that they know they cant sell toys for or get money from commercials for.

    The shows are too expensive to make and we did it. We didn’t want to sell to kids, we told our government, they took action and now without the money flow, there is noting to keep these shows a float. It sucks but that is the fact. The market changed and the financial place it was in is no longer the case. Do you really want the studios that you love so much to go out of business? People have jobs, designers, animators, storyboard artists, directors, producers, the list goes on.

    Times have changes, eras change, and yes, kids do watch comedy, they love it. More money is made from kids comedy than kids action. Times may have been different when we were kids, but it’s changed. We are also a very conservative society that does not support change in major ways. The people working at the studios (artists/directors/writers) want so bad to tell these awesome stories, but the fans don’t buy the back packs, toys, dvds, or even watch the shows on cable anymore to give the ratings. How can anything survive when there is no money?

    • 99teapots

      Well there’s the problem just like you said. How do they expect to make money off of anything using an antiquated business model like that?

      And since we’re blaming this on merchandise and ad revenue while we’re at it: let’s not forget that Young Justice and Green Lantern, two of CN’s few action showl, see little to no promotion, little to no effort put into merchandising where you correctly say that the revenue comes from, and a complete lack of acknowledgement of the multi-demographic appeal, which would in fact require some adjustment of their marketing approach.

      Yes it sucks for everyone involved, but nothing is going to change if we don’t call them out on running things like it’s still 1980.

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  • Cece

    I love teen titans, I grew up with teen titans. But, I also love Young Justice and Green Lantern. These shows are exactly what anyone would want from a superhero show and more. The plot lines, the well developed characters… It can be loved and understood by the children of this generation AND teens and adults. It’s widely loved and deserves to be renewed. Watching Young Justice Green Lantern is what the kids in this generation should be growing up to. Don’t make the horrid mistake of canceling one of the few shows that give your network meaning.

    Please…please renew Young Justice and Green Lantern. Please…

  • Jamesleszuk

    This is going to be shit. 

  • anon

    unpopular opiniom: I think is going to be super funny

  • anon

    Guys, seriously, cool your jets. Young Justice isn’t getting renewed because it’s incredibly expensive to make and they aren’t bringing in enough revenue to justify continuing to make it. And you know what? That happens a lot. Fans download the shows, don’t support them by buying dvds and toys and books, and then there’s not enough money coming in to keep them on air, then you complain it’s going off?

    These companies are in the business of entertaining and making money doing it. When one of those aspects it missing, they dump whatever they have and try something else. That’s how the industry works.

    I’m looking forward to seeing this show on air. I’ll wait and pass judgement once it’s out there.

  • Artist

    Why are they remaking everything?

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