A Wonder Woman-Centric Review Of Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis


DC Animation’s new direct to DVD movie, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis, focuses primarily on Aquaman discovering his heritage and joining the Justice League, but let’s face it: Nobody cares about Aquaman. His storyline was fine, albeit rather grim and grumpy. It was definitely odd to see DC Comics turning a corner in their comics with some new, lighter fare and then watch this movie that completely embodies the dark dourness of the early New 52. Directed by Ethan Spaulding and written by Heath Corson, the story is a tweaked version of “Throne of Atlantis”, a comic book crossover between Justice League and Aquaman, that throws in an origin story and a dead mother for the aquatic hero. It’s all about what you’d expect.

So let’s leave Aquaman behind and talk about the character everyone cares about. Or, at least, that I care about. Wonder Woman! While several voice actors reprise their roles from Justice League: War, Wonder Woman has a new actor behind her voice with Rosario Dawson replacing Michelle Monaghan. Dawson is decent in the role, thought she often slips into the formal, somewhat stilted delivery that a lot of actors go for when they play Wonder Woman. They hit the regalness a little too hard, and lose some of the humour and fun of the character. Dawson is a bit better at this than most, but she never really escapes it. Anyone who plays Wonder Woman in the future would be wise to listen to Susan Eisenberg in the Justice League animated show to hear how to find the perfect balance.

Wonder Woman is in an odd spot in the film, being the only woman on a team full of men. By the end of the film, she’s outnumbered on the Justice League by 8 to 1, and that’s not including the Justice League’s military liaison, Steve Trevor (who’s sporting a goatee for some reason). So what do the filmmakers do with the only woman on the team? They make her a romantic interest, of course.

Justice League: War hinted at some romantic feelings between Wonder Woman and Superman, and just like the comics it blossoms into full on romance. While a lot of the film deviates from the source material, the romance scenes are very reminiscent of their comic origins. Superman and Wonder Woman gaze out at the powerless masses and are brought together by their feeling that they don’t really fit in, and later on Clark shows Diana the wonders of using glasses as a disguise when they’re on a dinner date. Both scenes are cribbed from the comics.

There are additions, though. During said dinner date, Lois Lane stops by and has a staredown with Diana before settling in next to Clark in a very proprietary manner. The scene is a waste of two great female characters who would be better served doing pretty much anything else.

Once the action kicks into gear after Atlantis invades America, the romance fades into the background. Wonder Woman isn’t given a lot to do with the fighting. She takes out some sea creatures with her lasso, but then she’s one of several Justice League members struck down by the usurper king Orm when they visit Atlantis, and she spends the next chunk of the movie unconscious in a pod. Aquaman frees himself from his pod, then breaks out Superman, and they take down a giant sea creature together.   Wonder Woman is freed only after the battle ends.

Wonder Woman does have one good moment in the final battle against Orm. He wields a trident that only Atlantean royalty can handle, and Wonder Woman’s attack on him and his powerful weapon is one of the few that has any real effect on him. She snags the trident with her lasso, and struggles mightily against all of its great power that is now working against her. Most people, even most heroes, would be instantly felled, but she toughs out it out for an impressive amount of time before Orm is able to regain control.

Wonder Woman’s limited screen time seems largely due to the presence of Mera, here presented as an Atlantean guard who protects Aquaman. She gets a lot of screen time, and is generally pretty awesome, busting up bad guys left and right with her cool water powers. But it looks like the filmmakers only had space for one kick ass lady hero, and so Wonder Woman got relegated to the background for a lot of the film.

Perhaps not surprisingly, Mera’s arc quickly turns to romance as well. In fact, all of the film’s major female characters were either involved in a romantic subplot or got killed over the course of the film. The movie really isn’t a great showcase for varied portrayals of female characters.

Overall, Justice League: Throne of Atlantis was only okay for me. It wasn’t a great outing for Wonder Woman, which is a serious strike against it, but Wonder Woman aside it was pretty standard, almost bland superhero fare. The twists were telegraphed, you knew how it would end as soon as it began, and it lacked the heart that a good Justice League movie needs; the team spent most of their time squabbling with each other instead of working together. It’s not the worst DC animated film, but they’ve made much better. Furthermore, everyone behind the scenes really needs to rethink how they approach female characters, and definitely add some more women to the Justice League. I mean, 1 in 9? That’s just ridiculous.

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3 Responses to “A Wonder Woman-Centric Review Of Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis”

  1. Jeppe Dittmer Says:

    Nice review, though as a Wonder Woman fan there was clearly not a lot to talk about in this movie.
    It’s kind of amusing to me that they cast Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman this time since she voiced Artemis in the 2009 animated Wonder Woman film. I guess she got promoted🙂 I am glad they replaced Michelle Monaghan though, her line delivery in JL: War was just way too theatrical (Greetings warriors!). Susan Eisenberg is definitely my favorite Wonder Woman voice actor (with Lucy Lawless in New Frontier as a close second), she somehow found a voice for Wonder Woman that sounded slightly otherworldly without loosing the humanity. She could be flirting with Batman or threatening to punch a hole in Toyman’s face, but she always sounded like Diana to me.
    I know it might seem pointless so many years later, but I would actually love to hear your thoughts on that 2009 Wonder Woman film, did you ever do a review of it somewhere? Otherwise maybe you should do a retrospective-review, just for the archives.

    • Tim Hanley Says:

      I was kind of ambivalent on the 2009 Wonder Woman film. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either. I haven’t watched it in a while, so it’s all a little foggy in my memory, but I’ve never really had any strong feelings about it.

  2. voxleo Says:

    I hate the entire New 52 take on Wonder Woman, so it is not surprising that I don’t care for the DCAU rendition of her in War or Atlantis. I didn’t care for either of the voice actors that they chose in those films, and I at one point in Atlantis thought she sounded as misfit and uncomfortable in her femininity as the character of Amy Farrah Fowler in the Big Bang Theory (in fact, she sounds so much like her that I actually thought it might be the same actress during one scene) and the art is absolutely tragic with that outfit she wears. This Wonder Woman is more and more like a Xena 2.0 clone than Diana Prince, and it was even more evident in the way she carries the lasso in one scene (chakram much?) (Don’t let me get started on the costume rant, though, because I will not have time to complain about everything else once I go down that neverending road…) The fact that they pair her with Superdoofus is just the final insult icing on a nausea inducing cake, especially the way she gushes over his big muscles and he talks to her as though he is educating her.

    The whole thing is so juvenile, from the whiny-ness in the dialog and the gratuitous misplaced profanity, and the shallow plots that are just an excuse for fight scenes more than anything else (and the rip off Samuel L. Jackson vs Shark scene with Manta… *eye roll*) all the down to the childish way the characters relate to each other with more high-school clique-like arrogance than respect for one another, They are all at the same level of maturity that Shazam displays, which is ridiculous considering that even HE shouldn’t be that infantile when in that persona, but you can see the kid in him all the time as though none of the wisdom granted with the magic that transforms him applies. In both this one and in War, I feel like I should be watching them in a Teen Titans title rather than a Justice League. None of the characters has much depth at all, and they are so unsophisticated that it would take some additional maturity even to qualify it as sophomoric overall.

    I keep trying to like it, because I grew up with these characters as my heroes in the sense that they were something to aspire to become more like in terms of values and the things they stood for.. These barely two-dimensional recreations of the New 52 continuity are little more than violent bullies on super steroids who are not so much heroic in terms of their own worth but are simply labeled the “good guys” because they happen to be fighting against people with even less moral fiber and no integrity at all. I find none of them particularly even likeable, much less someone who I think is worth emulating beyond their ability to beat up someone with their super powerness,

    This was a disappointing film in general, much like the whole of the New 52. I am not sure I can even stomach another foray into that continuity, despite my hoping against hope that there was some trace of the team that I know still at work in the DCAU that brought me Batman TAS and Young Justice type of story and character development. If I can take one more at all, and it turns out as poorly as these latest efforts (if you can qualify it as “effort” at all), it may be time for me to grow up and put aside childish things like comic superheroes entirely. I know that the New 52 reboot was supposed to revive the genre, but it may well kill off the last generation in trade for the new one.

    I am frightened to see what they will do with the Live action Batman Superman theater release given everything I have seen so far, I don’t know why I keep looking for a glimpse of the real Wonder Woman in all these vehicles. I am beginning to think she is really gone for good and this might just be serving to taint the memory of her as she should be.

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