By Scotty V
“Heat Vision not X-Rays… get it together eyes!” – Batgirl
This simple one liner sort of sums of the adventures you’ll have upon viewing DC Super Hero Girls: Legends of Atlantis. The story takes place mostly underwater, though there are several scenes on the water and at Superhero High. It’s an interesting amalgam of opposites as we learn about some of the students, all of which aren’t actually “girls,” their opponents and their lives as fledgling superheroes. There are some new faces and long time teammates that bring the whole thing together. The main idea is that we don’t always have everything or everyone we need all at once or right away but that life, and superhero-ing, is a learning experience.
I’ve never seen an episode of DC Super Hero Girls so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect, other than knowing the show was aimed at young girls. With that in mind, my plan was to watch it with my two daughters, who are 8 and 12, but it was difficult to convince them. I’ve found that kids these days are much more interested in tablets and YouTube than they are in watching full movies or even shows with plots. When I told the two girls I needed their help with this project, I’d hoped they’d step away from their Attention Deficit Devices and give it a shot, but to no avail. I was on my own.
Having never seen an episode I was confused by the story at first. It opens with Baby Wonder Woman, who is 5 or 6 I guess, having an altercation with Mera (eventual Queen of Atlantis) and her sister (a character I’d never heard of and a sister I never knew Mera had) Siren. Siren has a tome – The Book of Legends, which consists of spells to control things oceanside and, we learn later, some really powerful other stuff, though we never really find out what that stuff is. Using the Book, Siren intends to conquer Atlantis to give she and her sister a place to live. She doesn’t quite understand it and the Isle of Paradise is endangered. Princess Wonder Woman is scarred by the whole experience and then we flash to present time.
In the present we’re shown strange versions of all the female superheroes we know and love, as well as some of the boys. The strange thing about it is that time periods don’t really seem to matter. The continuity I’ve been sort of familiar is non-existent. This caveat turns out to be ok, the creators seem to be just playing in the sandbox, but it’s a little off putting at first. For instance, Supergirl and Wonder Woman, as teenagers, are the same age, even though normally Kara is a teenager when Wonder Woman is fully grown and hanging out with Superman. Batgirl is also a teenager, which is right, but Commissioner Gordon – her father and Batman’s longtime associate who doesn’t know Batman is Bruce Wayne – is the Principal of the school where he knows everyone’s identity. It also seems as though every character who is normally a villain is also one of the students at SHH.
The above development actually makes for a lot of the fun, and since this series is made for getting girls interested in comic book characters with hopeful continuance in the future, a long-time adult fan should just adjust and go along for the ride. Once I got over some of my confusion, I actually found the characters quite charming. Often-times the comedy worked, the emotional moments got me emotional and the adventure was pretty darned exciting. One of the gems in the movie is the relationship between Raven, of Teen Titans fame, and Harley Quinn. These are two characters who shouldn’t really even exist together at this time in this manner, but their budding friendship actually gave me the feels throughout.
There’s a power-switch between Supergirl and Batgirl, which reminded me of the oft-used DC device of seemingly always needing to make “the Bat” more useful than everyone else. In this case it happens with Batgirl gaining Supergirl’s powers and yet still becoming the savior later on when she gets her own abilities (plan making) back. It’s something I’ve been dealing with as a long-time fan and it can be quite frustrating. In this outing, as is all too often the case with Superman when Batman’s around in this type of writing, Supergirl comes off as sort of useless. Batgirl’s good with Supergirl’s powers and with her own abilities, while Supergirl’s flight, vision powers and great strength are just filler that don’t really solve anything.
I really enjoyed the use of Mera in this film. She’s the hero while her sister merely wants to rule. Mera has difficulty turning against her sister, though in a bit of a nonsensical plot twist, Siren decides to imprison Mera even though they’ve been together the whole time and Mera’s attitude really doesn’t change. From the beginning we’re shown Mera as a caring soul who wants to protect the ocean environment but also doesn’t want to hurt anyone else. There’s also a great meeting with a certain “King of Atlantis” that had me going too.
The animation is really clean and the voice acting is fantastic. I was pleased to hear all the Teen Titans voices were the same as the ones on Teen Titans GO!, which I often hear my girls watching. There are also some other great easter eggs for comic fans and some well written jokes. The sound effects are mostly pretty realistic sounding with the exception of some out of place high-jinx type sounds. For example, characters falling accompanied by the old fashioned “running in place” noise. The show is really strong without that type of thing so I’m not really certain why TPTB chose to add those.
The resolution is a bit silly, with Mera tricking Siren Scooby Doo style, but there’s a nice wrap with Aquaman and Mera joining her new friends at Superhero High that sort of makes up for it. Overall I’d recommend DC Super Hero Girls: Legends of Atlantis to anyone with children who enjoy supers and to fans like myself who can manage to just let go and enjoy the mayhem and mix and matching of characters, places and continuities. One more thing, my younger daughter, who gave me the hardest time about watching because she didn’t want to leave her computer screen, couldn’t help but focus through most of the movie on my TV screen instead.
Purchase the “DC Super Hero Girls: Legends of Atlantis” animated movie on DVD from Amazon.com.