Sunday, May 12, 2013


"I'm an Amazon. We're prepared from birth to give our lives in battle."

One of the biggest complaints surrounding DC's successful series of direct-to-video animated features is that there are so few that don't focus mainly on Batman, Superman, or the Justice League. While Wonder Woman, alone, may not be as popular as the above three, I think her first solo outing is easily one of the best in the series. It succeeds by offering more variety by way of adding elements of Greek mythology and some interesting commentary on gender politics to the usual superheroics.

Centuries ago, a bloody battle took place between Queen Hippolyta and her Amazon warriors, and Ares, the god of war, and his undead army. Toward the end of the struggle, Zeus stopped Hippolyta from killing his son, and blessed her people with everlasting and a place to isolate them from the destructive world of Man, the island of Themyscira, as compensation. Cut to the present day, where their culture has completely stagnated. There have been no advances in technology, and no one has entered or left the island. Ares is locked away in a small prison cell, with his godlike powers sealed away. The only change brought to their way of life was the daughter that the gods had blessed Hippolyta with: Princess Diana.

During a fierce dogfight over the ocean, U.S. military pilot Steve Trevor crash-lands on Themyscira, and causes a massive panic. While the Amazons are busy interrogating him, learning about the modern Man's World, and planning to return him to the States, Ares has his sights set on revenge, and plans to achieve it, no matter the cost.

First off, I can't praise the casting choices enough. Keri Russell (Felicity) and Nathan Fillion (Green Lantern: Emerald Knights) add a surprising layer of emotional depth to Diana/Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor, respectively. The biggest surprise, though, was seeing in the credits that Alfred Molina (Raiders of the Lost Ark, Spider-Man 2) played Ares. He just came off as much more sinister and demonic than in any other roles I've seen him in, and it was definitely something to behold.

What I liked most about Wonder Woman was that it wasn't afraid to shake up the DC animated movie formula a little. It felt less like a superhero movie and more like a classic Greek epic. At its core, it's a story about a warrior who ventures to distant lands on a quest, learns more about herself and the world around her, and eventually comes to realize her own power. There were parts of the story, particularly those taking place on Themyscira, that reminded me of "The Epic of Gilgamesh", in how they portray Diana's journey toward becoming a hero. It also added some social commentary to the mix, bringing several gender issues to attention through Diana and Steve's interactions with each other. For instance, Diana, having only lived around women her whole life, is quick to dismiss all men as being vulgar and womanizing through her unpleasant interactions with Steve. However, through working together to stop Ares, they both learn to communicate their problems with each other better in order to work together.

As much as I enjoyed Wonder Woman, I did have a few problems with it. The first being that for a movie that's filled to the brim with swords and dismemberment, there's a very noticeable lack of gore. I kept wondering if there were some shots that had been removed for the final cut to make it more accessible, which I found out was actually confirmed by producer Bruce Timm. Also, for a film that spends a lot of time criticizing the "male gaze", it's not afraid of showing off the occasional cheesecake shot of Diana and the other Amazons, which felt kinda jarring. Finally, while the writers did a great job providing updated explanations for many of Wonder Woman's classic trademarks, like her red-white-and-blue armor, they never explain how she got that damn invisible jet!

It's a real shame that Wonder Woman isn't getting the same respect that many of her contemporaries are these days, but this updated take on the classic character should change some minds, and change the world!

Wonder Woman was directed by Lauren Montgomery, and is the fourth film in Warner Bros. Animation's successful DC Universe Animated Original Movie series.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed the Batman DC animated films I saw so its nice to see them branching out to other superheroes. And a nice voice cast too!