The latest addition of the DC Animated Universe, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines (2019) continues the continuity that began with Justice League: War (2014). The animated direct-to-video film is directed by Sam Liu, who directed multiple another animated films for the studio as well as animated films for Marvel.
Rosario Dawson (Luke Cage, Men in Black II) returns as the voice of the titular heroine. She’s accompanied by Jeffrey Donavan (Burn Notice), Marie Avgeropoulos (The 100), and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange is the New Black).
Beginning five years prior to the events of Justice League: War, the familiar introduction of Steve Trevor (Donavan) crashing into Themyscira plays out. Princess Dianna (Dawson) helps the pilot escape, which exiles her from Themyscira by means of a charm that makes anyone who leaves the hidden island forget its location.
Steve sets Dianna up in the home of Dr. Julia Kapatelis, a doctor of archaeology, and her daughter, Vanessa. Growing up in the shadow of a princess and her mother’s constant worship of Dianna, Vanessa grows distant.
Five years later, in present day, Dr. Kapatelis reaches out to Woman Woman saying that her daughter is in trouble and that she needs her help.
A lot of happens in the first act of Wonder Woman: Bloodlines. It quickly breezes over familiar territory, choosing instead to quickly focus on the melodrama and relationship between characters that hasn’t been touch on before – such as the shattered relationship between Dianna and her mother upon her leaving Themyscira and the heroine’s hosts in America.
Despite it’s overly packed first act, it did leave me wanting albeit a little overwhelmed. It’s overemphasis on relationship sadly doesn’t little to introduce any of the characters as worth caring for – making the succeeding events of the film rather empty. It does, however, provide a good and simple set-up for the film’s and its character’s conflict.
It’s second act dials down on its pacing… albeit too much in some ways. It was mildly exciting and a little more adventurous in its attempt to simulate the scale of a Greek epic. Its references to Theseus and the Minotaur were fun and that seemingly throw away line pertaining to Medusa was slightly clever. It was, however, nice to see Cheetah be brought into the fold even for just one scene.
The third act solidifies this films unconscious attempt to be as inconsistent as a roller coaster – bringing up the pace again for the would-be action packed final act. Its attempt at a plot twist would have held value if the villains weren’t so underdeveloped. But it did manage to to make the stakes feel a little more palpable… if only barely. This act’s saving grace was Dianna’s clever to solution to her big problem – it was unexpected and interesting, but only because the movie’s been pretty run-of-the-mill until this point.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines boasts a stellar cast. Dawson’s Dianna Prince is a welcomed return to say the least. She brings a strength and compassion that’s needed in the character.
Sadly, the film only features decent-to-subpar animation, especially when compared to the quality that the other DC animated films hold. Thankfully, that doesn’t take a way from the action, which were aplenty in this film.
SPOILER WARNING STARTING HERE! GO WATCH THE FILM, THEN COME BACK! OTHERWISE, SKIP DOWN OVER TO THE CONCLUSION.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines explores the themes of family, loss, and identity and purpose. These are evident in the film’s two main characters, Dianna and Vanessa.
Dianna begins the film shattering her relationship with her mother, believing herself to be the champion of Themyscira. For her actions, she is evidently exiled from her home. In one scene, Dianna losses her family but proclaims her the fabled heroine. She gives herself that purpose without having earn the identity just yet.
Later, after gaining a new family in her new home, she takes on the identity of Wonder Woman – but with every day that she’s away from her true home, she misses her real family ever more. In her words, “I used to pride myself in that – being unique. I hadn’t realized it isn’t always a good thing.”
On Vanessa’s front, she struggles with what her purpose is and who she wants to be. “I want to be something else… anything else” she says to Dianna after Vanessa that her future as an archaeologist is nothing if not certain. What follows is Vanessa beginning to lose herself thinking that she’s lost her mother to Dianna… thinking that her mother loves Dianna more.
This emotional trauma pushes down a darker path that eventually leads her to choosing to become something more than she was and not as much as she will be – taking on the identity of the Silver Swan in hopes of killing off her past self to prove that she’s worth something. “Vanessa’s dead. It’s Silver Swan now.”
In the films final act, both characters grow past their respective traumas – taking on the purposes and identities that they were meant to and recover what they lost.
Dianna reconciles with her mother after proving herself a “true Amazon” and deserving of the title of Champion of Themyscira. She even gains the approval of her mother in regards to her identity as Wonder Woman and her purpose to protect in Man’s World.
Meanwhile, Vanessa finds herself once more, choosing to stand with Dianna instead of against her. And, with the Purple Healing Ray, regains her identity as Vanessa Kapatelis.
Despite being a little heavy handed in its presentation of its themes, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines does do it well – expressing them in ways that are predictable but charming.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines isn’t the strongest addition to the DCAU nor is it the best iteration of the character, especially with the live-action blockbuster preceding it. But Rosario Dawson provides a memorable voice to the character and this film shows the character in a more diplomatic light than most others. Still worth your time, if you’re a fan of the character and the world at large.
What did you think of the movie? What DC comic arc do you want to see adapted into an animated film next? Tell us in the comments below!
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