Wonder Woman: Bloodlines takes a melodramatic step back from the greatness of DC’s last two years of animated films. There’s action a plenty and a fair amount of entertainment value, but the story does not match the excellence of recent offerings. The script by Mairghread Scott treads sappy. The mother, daughter, and sister dynamics explored become soap opera-esque. The villains are underdeveloped with a muddy agenda. I wanted more depth from the Villainy Inc. storyline. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is watchable in its mediocrity, but is not comparable with The Death of Superman, its sequel Reign of the Supermen, and the superb Batman: Hush.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines begins five years in the past, before the events of Justice League: War. Fighter pilot Steve Trevor (Jeffrey Donovan) crashes into the ocean while battling Darkseid’s Parademons. Luckily, he crosses the magical barrier that hides the Amazon refuge of Themyscira. He’s saved by Princess Diana (Rosario Dawson), who believes it is her duty to help save the human world. Her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Cree Summer), disagrees. Diana rebels against her mother and people. She leaves with Steve Trevor and is banished from the only home she has ever known.
In Washington DC, Diana Prince is sent to live with archaeologist Julia Kapatelis (Nia Vardalos). She adores the Amazon princess, much to the chagrin of her teenage daughter, Vanessa (Marie Avgeropoulos). As time passes, Diana becomes the heroic Wonder Woman, while Vanessa is consumed by jealousy for her mother’s affection. She foolishly enlists with Doctor Poison (Courtenay Taylor) and Doctor Cyber (Mozhan Marnò), who have gathered Wonder Woman’s enemies. They have an evil plan for the Amazons that transforms Vanessa. Wonder Woman will not allow them to harm her adopted sister, but has no clue of the real danger that awaits.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is an origin story with relationship overload. There’s the rift between Diana and her mother, Vanessa, Diana, and Julie; then let’s add the strained romance between Diana and Steve. The jumble of characters discussing their feelings tramples the superhero beats. An excess of drama isn’t a bad thing if handled correctly. It becomes contrived and predictable. Vanessa’s rebel character is one-note and obvious. There was too much to unpack in one movie. Splitting Wonder Woman: Bloodlines into two films or a series would have served the story and characters better. Vanessa’s angst, and Diana’s struggle to reach her, needed more development. The longer storyline is what makes The Death of Superman so awesome. It allows for deeper, nuanced characters.
Villainy Inc. is introduced, but serves little purpose. Don’t expect much from the classic Wonder Woman baddies. They have a smidgen of screen time then vanish from the plot. That’s kind of disappointing, especially when you see where the story goes. The finale delivers an epic battle, but is completely out of the blue. A head-scratching, last minute villain, is thrown like a javelin into the fray. The twist feels like a gimmick to shore up an action-packed ending.
I don’t want to be too harsh or hypercritical. Wonder Woman and DC fans will find the film serviceable. The animation is decent enough. Everything is firmly okay, not bad or good, with a heaping spoonful of melodrama. The bar was set high in the DC Animated Movie Universe. It’s lowered here to mitigate expectations. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is produced by DC and Warner Bros. Animation with distribution from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. The film is now available for digital download with an October 22nd Blu-ray release after having its Premiere at NYCC.
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