Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, a new animated movie from the folks at Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, is a rare thing: A feature for the famous hero’s Rogues’ Gallery.
Screenwriter Mairghread Scott — who has credits all over Marvel Comics and Transformers animated adaptations, as well as Marvel and DC Comics — lays out a smorgasbord of iconic Wonder Woman moments of the modern age, but doesn’t forget the one-liners, either. And with Rosario Dawson (Rent, Marvel’s Netflix shows) as Diana, Jeffrey Donovan (Burn Notice, Hitch) as Steve Trevor, and Adrienne C. Moore (Orange is the New Black) as Etta Candy.
Our story begins — as every Wonder Woman movie seemingly must — with Steve Trevor crashing on Themyscira and Diana renouncing her throne and her people to leave with him to protect Man’s World from coming war. But the film’s lengthy opening serves a resonant emotional core, as Diana finds a host family in archeo-anthropologist Julia Kapatelis, and her teenage daughter Vanessa.
Scott’s writing, combined with solid performances from Dawson and The 100’s Marie Avgeropoulos as Vanessa, make great scenes out of Vanessa and Diana’s complicated relationship. The younger Kapatelis clearly can’t bring herself to hate the noble Amazon princess — but the way that Diana has eclipsed her for her mother’s attention is another matter.
That conflict is the board from which the rest of Wonder Woman: Bloodlines springs, eventually becoming a story that features a half-dozen different Wonder Woman villains in a single conspiracy. Scott neatly combines elements of Wonder Woman’s Post-Crisis reboot — the Kapatelises and Ferdinand the minotaur chef (voiced by Michael Dorn, no less) — with more modern elements like the DC Rebirth versions of Steve Trevor and Etta Candy.
Unfortunately, like most of Warner Bros.’ direct-to-video DC Comics fare, the visuals lag behind the writing and performances. Stiff characters and wooden expressions are par for the course, and watching it on a big screen at the New York Comic Con premiere did it no favors. Many animation studios have done brilliant work on tight budgets, but, aside from a particularly well choreographed fight between Diana and the Cheetah, this was not an example.
Nevertheless, Bloodlines manages the balancing act of TV animation action with a surprisingly moving heart; a story about demanding mothers and their estranged daughters, and how deep the pain cuts when you feel that who you are is not enough for your loved ones.
Also, it’s totally gay. This is the New 52’s openly lesbian Etta Candy, and Diana is promising to introduce her to some of her buff sisters. That’s not something you see in every Wonder Woman movie.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines will be available digitally on Oct. 5, and on 4K and Blu-ray on Oct. 22.