The surprises just keep coming with Bruce Timm's alternate take on the DC Comics super-team, composing a new host of characters to be explored in the animated feature Justice League: Gods & Monsters. Swapping old origin stories and identities for all new ones - a Superman named Zod, a vampire Man-Bat, and a new god Wonder Woman - the brief introductions to those heroes, offered in the form of online Chronicles have yet to disappoint.
It's Wonder Woman who takes her turn in the spotlight next, showing just as drastic a departure from her typical incarnation as her fellow heroes. The third and final episode, "Big," sees Bekka - the traditional wife of the new god Orion - join forces with Steve Trevor to bring down a similarly re-imagined supervillain Giganta... and some lighthearted hints that Wonder Woman's aggression isn't confined to the battlefield.
Just three episodes in, and the differences in each Chronicle alluded to in our interview with Timm are obvious. With Batman, the online short was primarily a mood piece, hearkening back to the slower, more methodic storytelling seen in Batman: The Animated Series. For Superman, it was a genuinely shocking and bittersweet morality tale that the traditional Man of Steel couldn't possibly tell. With Wonder Woman, it seems the action fans have come to expect from a Justice League animated series or feature has been well and truly covered.
There are sure to be some who take exception to the idea of a sexually aggressive Wonder Woman, whether she hails from New Genesis, Themyscira, or the Moon. However, it's clear the inversion of the usual relationship between Diana and Steve Trevor (seen in animated form in the DCAU's Wonder Woman feature) is the laugh Timm and his fellow writers are going for. Frankly, the addition of a Motherbox seems like a larger leap in re-imagining DC's most powerful woman.
It's also worth remembering that, as Bruce Timm explained when Chronicles first took to the Internet, Gods & Monsters was an idea based largely on the creative freedom that it brought with it. After decades working with some of DC Comics' most iconic (and therefore valuable) properties, Timm was craving a chance to take these heroes outside of their comfort zones, and into situations that they traditionally wouldn't be allowed to venture:
"It’s not a completely new universe. It’s kind of like an alternate timeline of the DC universe. So there’s still a lot of established DC characters in it, but they are all going to be slightly skewed. They all have had different life experiences, and some people who were heroes in the traditional universe aren’t heroes in this version. They may be villains. They may be civilians. They may be something else. And characters who have had a traditional role in the DC universe, they may act completely differently in this one.
"When we do a movie with the traditional characters, inevitably we’re going to come up against some kind of story idea that we pitch and somebody at DC Comics is going to say, “Nah. You can’t do that with that character. That character would never do that or that’s going to upset some plans that we have.” But with these characters, even though they had the names of the real characters, nobody can say, “Oh, that character would never do that.” It’s like, “Well, how do you know that? I created those characters! I decide what they say, what they would or would not do.”
What do you think of this new take on Wonder Woman? Does this episode raise your hopes for Gods & Monsters as a whole? Or do you prefer a Wonder Woman who isn't so... forward when it comes to Steve? It's clearly all in good fun, but it will be interesting to see just how much of an impact Bekka makes as the Gods & Monsters story continues to trickle out.
From visionary producer and animator Bruce Timm (Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series), Justice League: Gods and Monsters Chronicles turns the DC Universe upside-down. In this dark, alternate world, telling the good guys from the bad guys is never easy: Superman is not the son of Jor-El, he’s the son of General Zod; Wonder Woman is not from peaceful Themyscira, but rather the warring nation of Ares; and Batman is more vampire-bat than man…and he’s not Bruce Wayne. It is unclear if our greatest heroes are here to protect us...or to rule us. Machinima has already announced a second season, which will come out in 2016.
Justice League: Gods & Monsters Chronicles is being released in partnership with Machinima. The animated feature releases July 28, 2015.