A little later than I would have liked, I finally had the opportunity to scoop up the Blu-Ray version of last year’s Wonder Woman from Warner Bros. Animation, and I spent a couple of hours yesterday evening sitting back to enjoy the feature. But let me first say that I’ve been fascinated with WW’s director Lauren Montgomery’s work since stumbling upon it a couple of years ago online. Not unlike Bruce Timm’s legendary creations, Montgomery finds success in creating an iconic visual of a character — like Wonder Woman — by breaking them down to essential concepts, then building them back from the ground up with a unique simplicity wholly her own.
I think that one of the aspects of her art that makes it jump off the page, or through the screen, is that she’s able to create this great sense of fluidity in her illustrations by exaggerating a characters features, or movement, and it ends up lending itself extremely well to an “animated” illustration wherein our eyes are drawn to that exaggeration and the characters movements seem all the more alive, more dynamic as a result. That, and there’s this great expression to those movements, like her characters faces, that’s just something to behold.
Uh…or…let’s let an illustration do the explaining. For example, Boodika, from Green Lantern: First Flight:
Anyhow, Warner Bros. (and Bruce Timm) made an excellent call by putting her in charge of direction and visual design because her expertise translates beautifully to the screen in bringing everyone’s favorite Themyscirian Princess to life. And I’ve got to tell you, this is an extremely distinct version of Wonder Woman (voiced by Keri Russell), and one that I hope we haven’t seen the last of. In this feature Diana is a younger, brasher, more headstrong version of the character but also completely full of the zest for life, power, and strength of spirit that we know so well in later, more experienced versions. She’s also fiercely beautiful and a warrior born which they play up to great effect.
It’s here that I wanted to mention that all too often we hear about “strong women” only to have the conclusion drawn that such a woman is one almost completely “liberated” from man and his influences, and while the relationships between men and women is a theme that runs through the feature itself, we see the theme play out in Diana herself as she experiences more of the world than that which she knew solely as a daughter of Themyscira. Through Steve Trevor (voiced by Captain Reyn…Nathan Fillion) Diana finds that more than a few preconceptions about man don’t quite hold up under closer scrutiny, and as a man viewing the feature, I appreciated that Trevor had a voice in the movie and that he had some wisdom to impart along the way. Even in the little things, where he informs Diana that men don’t think women incapable of opening doors for themselves, etc., but simply that we care about them, and want to serve in small ways like that to show a sincere appreciation. In other words, I liked that Diana had realized herself so capable in her young life and I hope all women can feel empowered in a similar way but I also liked the fact that Diana realized that man has his own strengths to bear and that man and woman can — and are meant to — coexist happily together.
Wonder Woman is a great character when handled deftly with confidence and vision, and it’s good to know that there are so many people out there capable of putting a good story together like this so as to highlight why she’s remained a vibrant icon for so long and what plenty she has left to contribute. And there is plenty of story to be had here, some great character moments, surprises, a fully realized world, fantastically fierce battle scenes (which are a highlight of the film) and more than a few laughs to be had so I don’t hesitate to say that I was extremely pleased with the results and can’t wait to sink a couple of more hours into all the extra’s padded into the release. Wonder Woman is probably my favorite DC-Animated features in recent years this side of New Frontier, so a well deserved kudo’s to everyone involved.