The 2017 Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot, reinvigorated the DC Cinematic Universe and took the intrigue and fascination for the Princess Diana character to a whole new level. In 2019, DC released another tale focusing on its mighty female warrior. Only this time, it was an animated feature. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines manages to continue the successful trend set in 2017 while also surpassing the live-action version in a lot of ways.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines tells the story of Princess Diana attempting to rescue a troubled teenager named Vanessa from the clutches of a group known as Villainy, Inc., who have made plans to attack Diana’s homeland Themyscira. The film starts by showing the origin of Diana when she rescues Steve Trevor and then decides to leave Themyscira in order to help “Man’s land.” Her mother does not approve and tells her she cannot return if she leaves with Steve, but despite the warning, Diana leaves.
She then meets Dr. Julia and her daughter Vanessa, who she develops a strong bond with. However, when Wonder Woman starts saving the world, her relationship with Vanessa becomes fractured, which kick starts the series of obstacles our noble hero has to battle.
The film’s pacing is excellent, and it flies by, leaving you with very few dull moments. Even more impressively, within that runtime, the creative team has juggled a variety of elements beautifully, such as the different characters, including five different antagonists, Diana’s relationship with Vanessa and her romantic storyline with Steve. Plus, there’s the tie in of Themyscira and Diana having to confront her past. With all this a part of the narrative, it’s an impressive feat that the film does not feel like a cluster, and it all flows together effortlessly.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines’ strength is, without a doubt, the two most prominent relationships our lead protagonist develops throughout the narrative. The estranged mother/daughter theme is used well to not only create this instant bond between Diana and Vanessa but also gives Diana a logical reason for why she refuses to give up on Vanessa when times get tough. It’s a well-crafted part of the film’s story and does a great job challenging the values and loyalty of Wonder Woman.
The relationship with Steve, while less prominent when compared to the Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, shines some light on this intense story. The two have plenty of great back and forth exchanges, which usually consist of jokes that go over the naive superheroes head, and there are lines that subtly enhance the romance between these two characters. In one scene, Steve mentions not wanting to intrude on Diana flying with Superman because “three is a crowd,” and she replies by saying she’s no longer flying with Superman.
In addition to these relationships, there are also a lot of small details that enhance the overall impact of the narrative. DC is known for being more open to violence, whereas Marvel tries to maintain a cleaner image, but instead of overusing the bloody visuals in Bloodlines, it comes in doses, making specific scenes more impactful. The use of costumes is another device used to show the significance of certain moments, especially when it comes to Diana changing from her trademark Wonder Woman outfit to a new look.
Much like the 2017 Wonder Woman, there’s a revelation in the climax, but unlike the 2017 installment, Bloodlines delivers an engaging final battle, full of drama, and one that pushes our hero to her limits. And having it take place in the land she was banished from makes it even grander, and a far superior-conclusion than the live-action version.
One of the weaknesses of this film is that the animation falls short, in particular, in the opening scenes of the film when we are trying to settle into the narrative. Most of the characters seem to lack any real expressions, lessening the impact of some excellent dialogue. The Wonder Woman character is perhaps the worst looking character early on, and her non-existent facials make it a challenge to invest in her character at the beginning. Over time the animation becomes more consistent, but the initial scenes weaken Bloodlines.
The opening is also quick, and although it’s understandable why they don’t spend a great deal of time on Diana’s exile from Themyscira, for those less familiar with the content, the speed in which Diana rescues Steve and then decides to leave with him is a tad quick to have the desired effect on the audience.
Ultimately, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines proves to be a fun, action-packed, and dramatic superhero tale that adds another great story to the long history of this legendary DC character.
Dir: Sam Liu, Justin Copeland
Scr: Mairghread Scott
Cast: Rosario Dawson, Jeffrey Donovan, Marie Avgeropoulos, Adrienne C. Moore, Kimberly Brooks.
Runtime: 79 minutes.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines will be available on DVD and Blu-ray on October 21st.