WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, now available on Digital HD and Blu-ray.
The issue of the hyper-sexualization of female characters in superhero comics has been raging for years. From Milo Manara's now-infamous Spider-Woman cover to Clay Mann's depiction of Batgirl in Heroes in Crisis, concerns over these types of depictions has been one of the biggest controversies in superhero comics in recent memory.
And now, this same sexual objectification has crept into the DC Animated Movie Universe, with Wonder Woman: Bloodlines having a major issue when it comes to Diana's scantily-clad costume.
Wonder Woman's bikini-esque armor has been a long-standing part of the character since she was created by William Moulton Marston and H. G. Peter in 1941. Her look has evolved into a myriad of directions, ranging from a skirt draped to her knees, with other takes seeing her rocking that controversial black jacket and glam-rock look, not to mention other times when she wore a full-bodied armor as she did in her New 52 design. The latter was adapted for the animated movies such as Justice League: War and such, although a lot of skin was still exposed.
In Bloodlines, though, Diana reverts to her classic armor, which makes sense considering that the story relies on her origin and how she left Themyscira to enter the world of man in yet another retold backstory. However, this particular depiction of her costume is considerably more salacious than how it was shown in the DC Animated Universe's Justice League Unlimited or even Wonder Woman's2009 animated movie, where a modicum of respect was had in terms of camera angles. Here, that tact is absent with some very uncomfortable close ups of the character's posterior, especially in the beginning when she faces Giganta. In every flip, landing and pose, Diana's backside is the focus, which reduces her to a sexual object in those moments.
Several additional scenes objectify Diana too, especially during battle against the likes of Silver Swan, and even when she's modelling her new costume for Julia Kapatelis. There are quite a few close-up crotch shots as well, with multiple camera angles are deliberately positioned to highlight this.
While this level of objectification could be objectionable in any context, it's especially troubling given the film's rating. Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is rated PG-13 for "sequences of fantasy action and violence, and some bloody images." The film's sexual content is not addressed in its rating at all, which gives potential viewers (or their parents) an incomplete picture of the kind of content in the film.
This kind of objectification seems to fly in the face of Wonder Woman's current status as an inspirational and aspirational figure. While Wonder Woman's costumes have frequently shown a lot of skin, this kind of objectification is increasingly rare. Director Patty Jenkins 2017 film Wonder Woman didn't treat Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman with this kind of leering eye, and it's hard to imagine that changing in the film's upcoming sequel.
While there's certainly something to be said for creative license, this objectification sends a mixed message about Wonder Woman. As the hero of her own story and one of DC's most prominent characters, Wonder Woman is, and always has been, more than a sex object. Hopefully, her next animated feature will keep that in mind too.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines stars Rosario Dawson as Wonder Woman, Jeffrey Donovan as Steve Trevor, Adrienne Moore as Etta Candy, Nia Vardalos as Julia Kapatelis and Cree Summer as Hippolyta, as well as Marie Avgeropoulos as Silver Swan. It is available now on Digital HD, Blu-ray and 4k Ultra HD.