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DVD Review: Wonder Woman (2009)

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In DC comics there are many “A-list” characters, but “The Trinity” of Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman are considered the crème-de-la-crème.  There have been a number of television shows and movies (live and animated) dedicated to the “Dark Knight” and “Man of Steel.”  However with the exception of the Wonder Woman live action show of the 1970s starring Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman’s solo adventures are few and far between.  There’s been talk for quite some time of a live action film, fan favorite Joss Whedon was working for some time on a script, but he couldn’t make the producers happy and eventually walked away from the project. To this day the film languishes in “development hell.”

Fortunately there is now an animated DVD for Wonder Woman, simply entitled Wonder Woman.  This release is the fourth in DC Comics' line of DC Universe Original Animated Movies.  Wonder Woman is an origin tale and is loosely based on legendary artist George Perez’ run on the title.  Wonder Woman’s origin was somewhat glossed over in the two Justice League series and this story finally does it justice. 

The film opens with a 300-type battle which producers mention in the commentary was the intention.  The Amazons are a race of warrior women led by Queen Hippolyta (Virginia Madsen) who battled Ares the God of War (Alfred Molina) and his Army.  During the battle Hippolyta kills their son Thrax and later defeats Ares himself with the intent of ending his reign once and for all.  However Zeus will not allow Hippolyta to kill his son and instead has Hera (Marg Helgenberger) bind his powers making him only as strong as a mortal.  In addition to binding Ares, the Amazons are given the island of Themyscira where they will be granted eternal youth and isolated from Man. In return for the island the warriors must also guard Ares for all of eternity.

Hippolyta longs for a daughter and molds one out of clay, she prays to the gods to make this a real girl and has her prayer answered.  The daughter had untold beauty, grace, and strength, and Queen Hippolyta names her Diana (Keri Russell).  Many years later American fighter pilot, Steve Trevor (Nathan Fillion) is shot down over Themyscira.  Somehow the magic cloaking field that hides Themyscira is disrupted which allows Trevor to crash on the island.  Hippolyta decides that Trevor should be returned home, but, not wanting Diana to leave the island, holds a competition where the winner gets the honor of escorting Trevor home.   

After competing secretly, Diana wins the tournament and Hippolyta must allow her beloved daughter to leave the island.  During this time Ares manipulates one of the Amazons and frees himself, making Diana’s mission two-fold, return Trevor to America and recapture Ares. 

The movie does a great job of adapting Wonder Woman’s origin and telling a unique tale as well.  The voice cast is great and reunites Waitress stars Russell and Fillion.  Casting wanted to have the best cast they could and they’ve succeeded, the banter between Russell and Fillion is great and casting Molina as another comic villain was spot-on!   I watched this with my daughters aged 10 and 2, and they both loved the film.  Wonder Woman isn’t my favorite comic character, but I enjoyed this film and it’s a movie I’ll enjoy watching multiple time since it will be on again and again as my daughters will do repeated viewings.

There are two versions of the standard DVD, a single-disc edition, and a two-disc special edition.   The single-disc edition has a great audio commentary by the film’s creative team which includes Bruce Timm who helped create Batman: The Animated Series and its various incarnations, Superman: The Animated Series, and both versions of The Justice League.  The commentary talks about what they hoped to achieve with the film, the process of creating a new look for Wonder Woman separate from her Justice League series look, and what they hope for the future with this character.  You also get a sneak peek at the next DC Animated direct-to-DVD film: Green Lantern: First Flight which looks like a lot of fun. I can’t wait to see it when it comes out this summer.

The two-disc version of Wonder Woman has two Justice League episodes featuring the Amazon Princess, and a couple of documentaries about the character.  As I received the single-disc edition I can’t comment on those extras, but any Wonder Woman fan worth his or her salt knows which version they should pick up.

Wonder Woman was a good film and sets things up for either a film sequel or could lead into an animated series, which would be great since Batman and Superman have had plenty of animated series and Wonder Woman hasn’t.  Hopefully DC makes the right choice.

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