Tomorrow marks the release of the second animated Wonder Woman movie with “Wonder Woman: Bloodlines” but the first to be part of the DC Animated Movie Universe. We got the chance to talk to some of the cast and crew including the voice of Wonder Woman herself Rosario Dawson, at New York Comic Con earlier this month. Here’s what they had to say about the upcoming movie.
First up was the writer of the screenplay, Mairghread Scott who talked about having the opportunity to retool Wonder Woman for the silver screen. She also discussed the differences between writing for comic books and writing for movies. She mentioned that comic books are like a haiku of the animated form. She also touched upon the renaissance and resurgence of Wonder Woman in mainstream media. She touched upon her version of the character which she feels is more of a threat to enemies whereas you don’t just hit Wonder Woman and run away from her. She also wanted to reiterate how strong of a character she is in not just body but in character. Wonder Woman is a good natured character but she isn’t naïve and will love you as much as she will hurt you if you make her mad.
I asked Mairghread about what outside stories or tales or ideas outside of the realm of comic books that she would pull into the character if she had the chance to do something unique and different with Wonder Woman.
“I think for Wonder Woman, for me was thinking about her circumstances a lot. I’m always trying to consume information. How do people act in warzones, what makes people want to save anyone else? I really try to drill down into what is this person’s specific circumstance and is there anything about that circumstance that I feel hasn’t been talked about and one of the things that I really wanted to explore and, you see a little bit of in the live-action film, is the fact that Wonder Woman on Paradise Island, is the only child. So she’s growing up on an island of moms and what do you do when everyone you’ve ever known knew you when you were little and weren’t great at everything and still sort of sees you as a kid? How do you prove yourself to an island full of your closet relatives? It’s kind of like the ultimate coming of age where you’re proving…I’m a grown up no, I promise.”
Following up Mrs. Scott was co-director Justin Copeland. Mr. Copeland has worked on most of the DC animated movies in some capacity. He talked about how they wanted to keep Wonder Woman fresh and they wanted to put her in situations that she’s never been in before in the animated realm as well as introducing her own rogues’ gallery and supporting characters. He talked about the appeal of Wonder Woman and in comparison to Superman, she’s more emotionally vulnerable yet much more loving and caring and people can relate more to the human nature of Wonder Woman than they can someone like Superman or Batman. He spoke about the consistent look of the animated universe and how many designs that he gets to see that are never released for characters, locations and costumes. The animators and designers go in from the start with a similar set of rules in regards to the looks of the films in the shared universe. He mentioned that they design based solely off the script that they have. Mr. Copeland also reiterates how, in this movie, that Wonder Woman is put in situations that we haven’t seen yet and that we get to see her as a mentor as well as a warrior and that she is vulnerable at times and makes some mistakes along the way.
Mr. Copeland was asked what he would like to see next for Wonder Woman and he thought that a Year One movie would be fun and that he would personally like to see a “No Man’s Land” animated movie. (Yes, please!!!)
Following up Justin Copeland was the other co-director Sam Liu. He talked about his thoughts on the movie and how he felt that it was different from the start and not what he expected for her origin story but in a good way. He spoke about the shared continuity of DC animated universe and that in that continuity they’ve done Batman and Superman’s origin and people understand where they come from but they haven’t really touched upon Wonder Woman’s origin and cast of people like the supporting cast or her villains.
I asked Mr. Liu about the shared animated universe and the process behind deciding what movies or characters they focus on next.
“It’s a weird thing because there’s the business side of it and there’s the creative side of it. I think that the continuous universe thing was a product of kind of going, hey every time we have to do one of these we have to create a whole new world that we have to design. When Bruce (Timm) was heading these up we would need to get his approval and a lot of times we would default to Bruce Timm style because a lot of times we wouldn’t have enough artists to populate this world or do all of the incidentals and he’d create the looks of how the background are so we’d default to styles that we had libraries of. In this case we were doing that purposely so, ok we’re going to build a library so that we can continue these stories and so that we can tell the story in the time that you’re giving us and on the budget that you’re giving us and so we can reuse a lot of assets and we can build our world and reuse it.
If we had a full live action feature we would have a lot more time and a much larger budget, probably ten times larger, to make a film but that’s part of the business aspect…how do we accomplish this business-wise? Again that’s the business part of it and we try to do what they want with, like “Death of Superman” or “Judas Contract”, those are stories that they’ve been trying to sort of…wanting us to home video…wanted us to tell because they’re big fan favorite graphic novels that people want to see but in this case how James (Tucker) is thankful that fans have been ok with “(Teen Titans:) the Judas Contract” not being exactly faithful to the graphic novel as well as the “Death of Superman” ones. So a lot of times we’re given something, and for James (Tucker) in this case, since he’s the master of this universe…how can I fit “Judas Contract” into this universe and sometimes it’s great because we’ve introduced the Teen Titans basically. That becomes like a wing of our universe now and in a weird way, we’re happy about that because, I think for us, the Teen Titans and the Suicide Squad ones are the funnest because we’ve done so many Batman and Superman ones and Wonder Woman actually now. And with this Wonder Woman one we’re trying to do our first big Wonder Woman one and let’s introduce her and pitch her up a little bit and then, hopefully if they let us, tell more Wonder Woman stories and we don’t have to touch upon having to introduce Victoria Cale or we have to introduce our Cheetah or our Giganta or things like that.
In a way, I think that the movie serves as a…well works emotionally as an isolated single movie but there are so many other things that I think…it’s like a jumping off point that is setting up other movies.”
Next to the table was the aforementioned James Tucker who is the producer of many of the early DC animated movies as well as the originator of the shared universe in which “Wonder Woman: Bloodlines” takes place in. Mr. Tucker talked about the length of time between animated Wonder Woman movies and said that it is about time for her to have her origin told in the shared animated universe. They wanted to dive more into what Diana does when she’s not fighting crime and also to introduce her supporting cast.
He was asked about the possibility of a full-length animated Shazam movie due to the popularity of the movie and he shed some light on the inner-workings of the animated movie properties. He mentioned that they get two in-continuity movies per year but that there are other productions going on that use the DC characters. Since Shazam was in a LEGO movie and on “Justice League Action”, that kind of takes him off of the table for his use in the shared animated universe films.
Mr. Tucker talked about how Wonder Woman was one of the standouts in “BvS (Batman versus Superman) and that she was getting the most positive response from that movie and her exposure in that movie helped. That carried over into other things and allowed them the opportunity to do her origin story in the shared universe. He mentioned that she brings something to the table that Batman and Superman can’t as in she’s a humanitarian and she knows that there is bad things going on in man’s world but she’s not dumb and naïve about it but that she believes that she can help anyone and that it’s not so black and white and that there is good in just about everyone. That makes her relatable.
Finishing off the single reviews, next up were the lovely pair of Courtenay Taylor and Mozhan Marno who voiced Dr. Poison and Dr. Cyber respectively. Mozhan Marno, who starred in “Blacklist” and “House of Cards” talked about how she prepares for voice acting, which is new to her, compared to studio acting. She tries to study the character via the script and bring the character to life as if she was playing her in live-action. Ms. Taylor mentioned that she got to work with Cree Summer who voiced Hippolyta in the movie and learned some tips and tricks via watching Cree and seeing what she brought to the table. It’s rare that they get to work with another person in voice-acting.
I asked the ladies how they felt about the character of Wonder Woman and where they believe that she is going in the years to come.
Courtney: “I’m super-excited about her. I voiced Wonder Woman in “Justice League Heroes” and I had to say “let’s just wait for Superman” and I’m like NOOOO, I don’t want her to wait for Superman, I want her to go. And we were just talking about this recently, about how important these stories are being played out and not as ancillary characters but as front and center that you can have these comic books and full-length movies and animated projects that are filtered through a woman’s lens and are just as exciting if not more so because we haven’t seen those stories much.”
They talked about Wonder Woman as always being presented as a strong, powerful character and some other super hero movies that focus on male leads, they can’t relate too as much but with anything Wonder Woman they see themselves in their shoes. They also talked about how much more profound and prolific the storytelling is in modern movies, video games and films are compared to some of those of the past.
Next up was the voice of the Silver Swan, Miss Marie Avgeropolous who stared on CW’s “The 100” and who is taking her first foray into voice acting with “Wonder Woman: Bloodlines”. Miss Avgeropolous talked about how she prepared for voice acting and that she pampered her voice to make sure that she brought her A-game to the table. She talked about adding a vulnerability to Silver Swan starting with voicing Vanessa, who was a character that she could related to. She talked about going through her own goth stage at a young age and that she too wore a dog collar as a fashion statement.
She was excited to play a different character other than Octavia, whom she played on “The 100” and that she is excited to be a part of such an important franchise such as Wonder Woman. She talked about the differences about telling a story with just a voice as compared to telling a story with your body. She said that it allowed her to be more free and creative and that she also enjoyed the solidarity of recording alone. She recorded her parts in a studio on set via Skype while filming “The 100” in Vancouver.
Finishing off the day’s interviews was none other than the voice of Wonder Woman herself and star of plenty of pop culture projects such as the Marvel Netflix shows, “Clerks II”, “Zombieland: Double Tap”, “Dishonored 2”, “Sin City” and “Grindhouse” to name a few…Rosario Dawson.
Having voiced Wonder Woman in the shared animated universe since “Justice League: Throne of Atlantis” in 2015, she talked about doing voicework on other DC projects such as the first animated Wonder Woman film, where she voiced Artemis, and how excited she was when she was asked to take over the character. She talked about how fandom has taken Wonder Woman to a whole other level and how grateful she is to be part of her story and a part of the current comic book and comic movie popularity. She spoke about how wonderful it has been to be a part of great stories that she grew up on like working with Frank Miller on “Sin City” and how much she loved the “Dark Knight Returns” comics as well as Neil Gaiman’s “Sandman” and how much her and her family such as her mother and grandmother…who they all grew up loving Wonder Woman…and how amazing it is to see so many female comic book characters front and center in the movies and in the comics.
She talked about her uncle Gustavo Vasquez, who is a comic book artist and has worked on Marvel and DC titles such as Deadpool, Green Arrow, What If…?, Avengers and Martian Manhunter to name a few, and how his influence impacted her at an impressionable young age thus making her a lifelong comic fan.
Miss Dawson was asked what the message she hoped that the movie portrayed to the viewing audience and she felt that what was really powerful about the film was the mere reality of Wonder Woman’s presence in the movie creates conflict and confrontation, even with her best intentions, and she has to deal with it in the best way that she knows how and that is doing the right thing and standing up for what you believe in.
I asked her how much she hoped that this film would open the eyes of the studio to produce more standalone films based off of DC female characters.
“I mean, I think that there are such a plethora of films coming out and the storytelling is coming from so many different places such as video games, to short films, to live-action films to animated films, to television shows like “Supergirl” and you just go so many spaces being occupied and yet I feel that things are being quantified and that there are things like how many times a woman says a certain word on film compared to a man makes people feel that the male voice is more important than the female voice. I feel that we still have a long way to go and obviously I hope that this film is successful and reaches out there and helps change hearts and minds for the greater good of course but I don’t think that it’s any one projects job to have to do that, I think it’s all of us in culture that need to evolve and I think that we’re seeing that getting bigger and bigger and the demand for it being there…it’s changing. I’ve been coming to comic cons for a lot of years and you’re seeing the pushback on women being able to have more of their properties out there and to not be abused just because they’re in cosplay and I think we’re just seeing that there’s no space that can’t be better evolved and from what I see reflected there, change is coming.”
Thank you to Gary Miereanu, DC and Warner Bros. Animation for organizing and setting up participation in the roundtable interviews.