2019 Warner Bros. Animation release Wonder Woman: Bloodlines landed on DC Universe last week. It’s trending there right now and it is apropos this entry in DC’s new animated continuity finds a home and warm welcome. The service isn’t quite starved for content but it deserves quality additions and Bloodlines is pretty good.
Sometime in the past, but not a century into the past, Steve Trevor (Jeffrey Donovan) crashes in the waters off Themyscira – as usual – and is saved by Diana (Rosario Dawson) who is a princess and next in line to rule after her mother, Hippolyta (Cree Summer). This time, Trevor was attacked by Parademons and is put in a cell as a formality after he’s healed by the Purple Ray of Light.
Diana, interested in helping man’s world and stopping a prophecy, sets him free and is ready to leave with him. Hippolyta is less thrilled with this than in Patty Jenkins’s movie. She duels with her daughter before coldly banishing her. She finds refuge in America with Dr. Julia Kapatelis (Nia Vardalos) and her daughter Vanessa (Marie Avgeropoulos) who grows distant and jealous.
Fast forward five years and Diana operates as Wonder Woman with Steve by her side in the role of a partner and overseer (think Alfred meets Nightwing). After Vanessa goes rogue and starts doing business with cabal Villainy Inc. – made up of a string of Wonder Woman bad gals fronted by Dr. Cyber and Dr. Poison – Poison gets an artifact belonging to Veronica Cale and Julia is killed in a standoff between Poison’s goons and Wonder Woman, seconded by Steve. Vanessa, over the edge, submits to experiments by Cyber and Poison that turn her into the dangerous and vengeful Silver Swan.
Diana also has to locate Themyscira again because she’s cursed with forgetting, but that synopsis is long enough so I’ll leave it there.
Bloodlines’ setup is a little rushed. It gets all pieces on the board quickly yet still takes its time in getting to the ultimate journey back to the isle of the Amazons. At first, I felt I wouldn’t get enough time or enough reason to care about Wonder Woman’s connection to the Kapatelises. Halfway through, however, the film grabbed me and delivered the pathos.
Battered and Bloodied
The action isn’t skimped on. Diana’s slugfests with her most notorious enemies – from Giganta to Cheetah – are a lot of fun. The epic final battle especially makes the slower parts worth it. Diana fights with everything and even her best isn’t enough. She is bloody and broken and outmatched in a way I’ve never seen on screen that’s comparable to the worst shellackings suffered by Batman and Superman in previous films. And her comeback, punctuated by her desperation and the compromise she must make in battle to even the odds, is very satisfying.
Wonder Woman might not have as celebrated or deep a rogues gallery as Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man but we almost never get to see so many at one time. Often is the case with the three others I mention. That they are giving her the same treatment as one of them sends the message her supporting cast of characters is just as important and interesting. Largely, in Bloodlines everyone is remarkable.
Since Batman: The Animated Series WB has done an outstanding job finding voices to match the character. Rosario Dawson does a fine job as Diana and could stay her voice as long as Mark Hamill played Joker. Jeffrey Donovan impressed me as Steve Trevor. I like him a little more than Nathan Fillion who brought a similar panache in the first animated solo Wonder Woman adventure.
Michael Dorn has a fun cameo voicing Ferdinand the Minotaur an obscure character who is a chef on Themyscira. I feel like Dorn brought his experience from Gargoyles to this. His appearance and gravitas remind me of moments from episodes of that show he was in. How he gets his name thanks to Steve and proudly accepts it livens things up in a Disney toon sort of way. It’s pure Michael Dorn.
Warner is relaunching the DC Animated Universe around the events in Death of Superman and Reign of the Supermen. I’ve got to say so far so good. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is a decent continuation of that timeline and provides a satisfactory origin for the character within it. You may have to be patient with it in the first half but when it gets going it doesn’t disappoint.
- Action-packed final act
- Mother-daughter dynamics
- More time could've been done to set the stage for the rivalry between Wonder Woman and Silver Swan. It's not quite earned.
- Slow, by-the-numbers setup and origin.