Warrior princess grows up in animated video


POSTED: Sunday, March 08, 2009

The DC Comics superhero trinity has been finally been realized—animation-wise, that is.

Following up on the successes of Batman and Superman on the television screen—thanks to the guidance of executive producer Bruce Timm—the Amazon warrior princess finally got her own feature-length video with the release of “;Wonder Woman”; last week.





        (Warner Home Video, rated PG-13, available as single-disc DVD, $19.98 retail, two-disc special edition, $29.98, and Blu Ray, $34.99)



Since Timm first co-created and produced “;Batman: The Animated Series”; nearly 16 years ago, his subsequent projects have distinguished themselves, approaching the stories of the comic book heroes with a mature and respectful tone. It's a long way from the kid-targeted “;Super Friends”; of the 1970s.

Considering that Batman and Superman's origins are already so well known, the PG-13 rated, direct-to-video “;Wonder Woman”; retells her origin story. It does help, however, to have a passing knowledge of the character before watching the video—the 75-minute movie is jampacked with action sequences that necessitates taking shortcuts in the princess' story.

Princess Diana is literally created from the clay of the island of Themyscira, at the bequest of Queen Hippolyta. Endowed with the powers and ideals of Olympian deities, Diana grows up in a veritable island paradise, as the Amazon warriors have become settled as a peaceful, though isolated, race of women on the island.

Diana, however, later becomes a warrior-ambassador for the Amazons, when she goes to “;man's world,”; to accompany military pilot Steve Trevor, who accidentally crashed on Themyscira, back to his world. Thus is born the superheroine Wonder Woman.

In the WW feature, an added story line to ramp up the action involves Ares, the god of war, who has been imprisoned on Themyscira from an earlier battle with the Amazons. He escapes with the help of the treacherous Persephone and decides to exact his revenge on the Amazons and the rest of the world, taking the fight to present-day Washington, D.C.

FEATURE writer Michael Jelenic—who's is currently doing the “;Batman: The Brave and the Bold”; series on Cartoon Network—said working with Timm on “;Wonder Woman”; was “;pretty interesting. He's a legendary animation producer, so it was intimidating to work with him right off the bat—I mean, not only to I have to worry about pleasing Wonder Woman fans, but I have to please Bruce as well—and he's not very vocal. But with a shrug and a grunt, he will let you know if something doesn't work. In fact, if he doesn't say anything, that's as good as it gets.”;

Jelenic's script benefited from the hiring of an all-star voice cast that features Keri Russell, Nathan Fillion (reunited after starring together in the indie hit “;Waitress”;), Alfred Molina, Virginia Madsen, Oliver Platt and Rosario Dawson.

Russell plays the title role and her previous knowledge of Wonder Woman was based on the popular live-action TV show of the late '70s.

In press interviews, she has said, “;I can remember folding laundry with my mom while watching Lynda Carter on TV. So I knew a little bit, but I didn't know all the depths of the story we discover in this film. Ultimately, she's a very cool, strong female warrior.”;

Dawson, who is a comic book geek herself and voices the role of the warrior Artemis, said in other interviews that “;the whole story has a strong resonance, the dialogue is very strong, the violence is very real, there's great strength in the characters and the issues that they're facing, and there's all this Greek mythology and the parallels in the two worlds. It's a very strong script and I really liked it,”; Dawson said. “;It's very respectful to the legacy of the character.”;

“;Since the movie has come out,”; said Jelenic, “;there's been some interest on DC's part for me to perhaps do some of their comics. ... Animation is usually not taken seriously, so some people who have seen 'Wonder Woman' have told me that they're surprised it has adult themes and is geared for an adult audience.”;