Wonder Woman [2009]

This is a stylish production of Wonder Woman’s origin focusing largely on the ancient culture from which she sprang.  You spend a lot of time amongst the reclusive sisterhood of amazon warriors of Themyscira.  In fact, the whole opening act comprises events long before Wonder Woman’s “birth”.  She does not don “the outfit” until about a third of the way through.

The one sentence synopsis:  A fierce but formidable warrior culture ran afoul of god of war Ares  and coincidentally lost all their men in the final battle so the women naturally decided to become recluses on a magically hidden island where their queen raises her miracle baby into the person who would become Wonder Woman before an unlikeable and crude Steve Trevor crashes on their island and is escorted back to the real world by her and along the way she learns more about the nature of men, her culture’s pride, and the power of a smokin’ body.

The birth of Wonder Woman: Call us crazy, but we think the old fashioned way with the birds and the bees is more fun.

Wonder Woman depicted here is more likable than the one seen in Justice League: A New Frontier.  (Of course that is not saying much.)  She is drawn well in a slightly stylized but generally universally appealing way.  Her looks are part of the bread and butter of the character, and they took strides to do them right and consistently if slightly simply.

"You know, just a little something I put on for physical training - and cheerleader competitions."

This is the non-flying version of Wonder Woman, and that is fine with us.  We do not think she needs that power – besides, it makes the invisible jet lonely.  Her fight scenes were well choreographed slug-fests that some of the other DC and Marvel productions should strive to match (cough –Hulk versus Thor).  The violence was not scaled back too much, especially in the opening act.

It is called fight choreography Marvel animation producers, why not try it? (For the rest of us it's a well constructed girl kicking butt.)

We did have a problem with their depiction of Steve Trevor.  Instead of being a very virtuous man he was depicted as a brave but coarse and somewhat depraved warrior.  It really was an unfortunate choice.  While the movie in general was not overly sexist, there were no good men anywhere to be seen.  Trevor is supposed to show the best in the gender, convincing Wonder Woman to measure all people individually.  We hope she does not judge all men by him.

Wholesome, All-American; this is what Steve Trevor is supposed to be all about.  Lyle Waggoner personified that well.  Just look at his teeth.  You know he is a good guy.

Wholesome and All-American. This is what Stever Trevor is supposed to be about. Just look at his smile as depicted here by Lyle Waggoner. How could you not trust him?

We like to call this, "Steve Trevor: Lecher". This is pretty much the impression he gives off the entire movie. Nice hair guy.

After the uncharacteristically bad voice casting in A New Frontier it was refreshing to see voice producer Romano back on her game with solid and appropriate voicing all around.  She and Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Justice League, etc.) even indulged themselves with cameos.  Good work if you can get it.

Were the producers trying to make a not-so-subtle and not-entirely-clear political statement with Ares atop the White House torn asunder? "The president is like Ares"? "Ares rules like the president"? "Ares wants power over us like the president wields"? "Politics is war"?

Wonder Woman was more adult and more interesting that Green Lantern First Flight, and more entertaining and understandable (and less preachy) than A New Frontier.  The writing was quality despite their questionable characterization choices, some plot jumps to various conclusions, and some overly plot convenient occurrences.  The dialogue and quips are where it is displayed.

If this was supposed to be a political statement, all it did was add unbelievablity to the feature. "Mr. President, an island has appeared out of nowhere in the middle of the ocean." "Hmm. Let's nuke it!" Wha?

The pacing could have been tighter, and the climatic jet chase and hand-to-hand fight scene dragged the tension out a little too long.  While it is far from perfect, it is one of the better recent direct to DVD animated features from DC and Marvel.

The dogfights were well done barring the overly long final chase. (We do not think that TV commercial windshield chip fixing goo will work here.)

PS - From what this feature depicts, the mythical Greek gods afterlife sucks.


6 thoughts on “Wonder Woman [2009]

  1. Nice post.
    As for Steve Trevor, I think they portrayed him that way to address modern feminism and perceived chauvinism. Wonder Woman has been portrayed as little more than a sex-symbol for decades, but in recent years she’s being turned around to criticize the culture that created her? That’s pretty interesting.
    I agree that of all the Animated Features, Wonder Woman is the most fun. I’m compiling a list of all the Animated Features made by DC and Marvel, you should check it out when it’s completed (probably a week or two from now).

    • We see your point about Trevor. We would have preferred it though if she saw examples of chauvinistic men other than Trevor, so that he could have remained a noble example of manhood by comparison. That would have made the romantic kiss ending more fitting and less…off.

      Post a link here to your list when you finish it if you want. We here in the Fortress did not start out to post a take on all these direct-to-DVD comic releases, but it has evolved that way over time. We post on what interests us. They sure have run the gamut from good to gag. Wonder Woman was indeed one of the better outings despite the character interpretation issue regarding Trevor.

    • Thanks for checking in Issac. We appreciate it.

      Our Iron Man Armored Adventures take was delayed. The series takes are longer in the making than one shot features. However, you are right. While we have been busy doing other writing projects, we do want to keep up on all the Fortress Takes projects we have on deck. Iron Man is coming this weekend, and Merlin season 2 soon as well. We have Wolverine And The X-Men Fate Of The Future on deck, but are not sure it will be good or notable enough for a take. Any opinions?

      Scientific Railgun, an anime, was a bust not worth spending time on. We are going to do Twilight New Moon. It may be controversial to some. “Why are you wasting time on THAT?” We did do the first one, and it got a lot of traffic and buzz, plus the captions were fun and funny.

      PS – And of course, we have been keeping up on our comments. We like the communication. It matters more when you are sequestered in a Fortress of ice and crystal.

  2. First off, hats off to both DC and Marvel for FINALLY figuring out what makes ANIME the huge business it is and bringing that same model to the States: OAV (original animation video, a.k.a. direct-to-dvd animation). This way, without the constraints of broadcast tv and theatrical movies, they can take artistic risks. WONDER WOMAN is one such artistic risk that paid off. You’re right Fortress Guy; Andrea Romano and Bruce Timm were both on their A-Games, production-wise. The choice of FELICITY’s Keri Russell in the lead as Diana did have me worried, mainly because I thought she wasn’t gonna play it straight. But, I digress–Ms. Russell delivered. As for the character designs by Bruce Timm, I’m glad they weren’t too sharp-flat like his classic BATMAN designs, but somewhat rounded, thereby complimenting the female characters.

    Yes, the version of Steve Trevor in this entry was a pure jerk (and that’s the only other thing that got me). Lyle Wagoner’s classic Steve Trevor complimented Lynda Carter’s Diana to a T, but this dude…well.

    Now, onto the fight choreography: you’re dead-on. This IS better than some of even the Superman titles Warner Animation has issued. The fights were XENA-quality in their fluid motion and sheer intensity. Plus, no punches (no pun) were pulled: these were some vicious fights (especially the opening and closing Amazon wars.).

    My real beef with DC’s Direct-2-DVD animation is the running time. 78 minutes makes it all go faster, but even a good anime film will push past 90 to make it feel truly theatrical. Also, you can flesh out the characters a little more this way. Nonetheless, I’m glad that WONDER WOMAN has gotten a modern retelling. Also, I hope that, instead of a one-shot, this may be the opening of a small franchise.

    • Good points. We would not mind seeing more entries into this particular Wonder Woman saga. (It might also give this Steve Trevor a chance to redeem himself a little.) They certainly left it open for such sequels, and even implied it with the last scene.

      True too that the somewhat shorter length can generally lead to certain things being rushed. We think this one resisted that better than others. However it is an ongoing factor. It only takes a few more minutes for a decent feature like this one to feel more like a movie and less like a direct-to-DVD release.

      Fight choreography is an inconsistent factor in these releases from both Marvel and DC. The team on this feature should share their knowledge.

      Thanks for the comment LW.

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