It’s been two years since Wonder Woman’s triumphant solo effort on the big screen but it seems much longer. In that span of time we’ve thrilled to some phenomenal comic book films from Avengers: Infinity War, Aquaman, Captain Marvel, Shazam!, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Life moves fast in the comic book movie lane as today’s megastar can be old news quickly. That’s why it was as a little surprising it took so long for Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, the long overdue latest entry featuring the neglected member of DC’s Trinity.
At some point, Warner Bros. Animation decision makers came to the mindset that only Batman and Justice League were worthy of animated feature films. Most of the New 52 influenced films have alternated between those two with the rare branching out to the Teen Titans and Superman.
It’s been more than a decade since the very well received Wonder Woman animated movie and with the character’s increased mainstream presence following Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it seemed like Warner Bros. Animation missed the opportunity to strike when Wonder Woman fever was at its hottest.
After all this time, was Wonder Woman’s follow-up worth the wait? For the most part yes though a few hiccups prevent it from joining the upper echelon of DC Animation films. Bloodlines kicks off with a retelling of Princess Diana’s (Rosario Dawson, Luke Cage) first encounter with Steve Trevor (Jeffrey Donovan) presumably as Darkseid begins his assault on Earth.
Diana leaves her home of Themyscira against the wishes of her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Cree Summer) and travels to warn mankind of the pending attack. The continuity is a little wonky here as the events in Justice League War never get addressed and it’s much later when Wonder Woman sports her red, blue and silver attire from the film.
To help familiarize herself with the rest of the world, Diana moves in with cultural expert Julia Kapatelis (Nia Vardalos) and her daughter, Vanessa (Marie Avgeropoulos). Having the perfect woman as a roommate tends to make anyone look bad by comparison and Vanessa quickly starts to resent the newly dubbed Wonder Woman.
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Animation/comics writer Mairghread Scott (Batgirl, Transformers: Till All Are One) does too good a job of making Vanessa’s anger understandable. The key for most great villains is for them to be somewhat delusional about perceived slights, but it needs to be clear they’re in the wrong. Vanessa’s jealousy doesn’t feel unjustifiable and the switch from jaded teen to budding criminal is a dramatic one.
There’s some parallels between Diana and Vanessa dealing with demanding mothers, but a greater focus on their friendship and eventual split would have helped strengthen the story.
Eventually, tragedy strikes and Vanessa finds herself at odds with Wonder Woman, aligning with her enemies. Scott pulls from Wonder Woman’s eclectic Rogue’s Gallery bringing in underutilized characters like Dr. Poison (Courtenay Taylor ) and Dr. Cyber (Mozhan Marnò) with the traditional foes Giganta and Cheetah (Kimberly Brooks in a dual performance) while also giving key roles to supporting characters like Etta Candy (Adrienne C. Moore) and Vanessa Cale (Constance Zimmer).
Directors Sam Liu (The Death of Superman) and Justin Copeland (Batman: Hush) know how to handle lively action scenes and it’s always fun watching an unrestrained Wonder Woman kick serious tail. I really liked the character designs as the harsher angles and lines reminded me of Aeon Flux. This was a welcome departure from the one style fits all approach we’ve seen from the previous New 52 era films. One of the strengths of earlier WBA films was the willingness to explore different designs instead of one consistent style.
The current set-up of the DC Animation films has been a very connected universe where Bruce Wayne might randomly pop up in Metropolis and hang out with Superman. I was a little disappointed there wasn’t even a small cameo from some of the Justice League especially since Wonder Woman was hanging out at the Hall of Justice.
Dawson has voiced Wonder Woman since the start of the New 52 films and her performances continue to improve. Zimmer is a great addition to the universe as well with the ideal mix of bite and arrogance to pull off Cale. There’s an important post-credit scene that addresses what seemed like a forgotten payoff to a subplot and hopefully sets up a sequel that won’t be a decade arriving.
Just like the live-action film, the final act is the weakest part of Bloodlines. While the Gal Gadot film got washed out in a big, noisy CGI-fest, Bloodlines is an seemingly endlessly brutal and bloody battle that wears out its welcome. The fight plays out like Diana is running into a wall headfirst with no thought towards strategy hoping for a different result. In fairness it’s the same kind of stubborn fighting approach we see from a lot of male superheroes, but Wonder Woman is a bit more refined warrior thanks to her Amazonian training.
Bloodlines is another worthy entry to the DC Animated universe and definitely worth checking out despite a few script problems and the overly long final action scene.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Animation