Screenwriter Mairghread Scott discusses the storytelling of the new animated Wonder Woman movie, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines at NYCC 2019.
In discussing the recent DC Animated Original Movie, Wonder Woman: Bloodlines, the storytellers behind the solo feature came to the famed New York Comic-Con to provide insight on the latest incarnation of arguably the most famous female superhero, Wonder Woman, the Princess of Themyscira.
The Workprint sat down with Mairghread Scott, screenwriter of Bloodlines, in a roundtable interview. She has 20 writer credits to her name, ranging from screenwriter to story consultant. This is her second time writing for the character of Wonder Woman.
The movie has a cast of mostly female characters. Was this intentional?
Well, it wasn’t necessarily intentional. We knew we wanted to write a Wonder Woman movie. I was a writer that had experience writing Wonder Woman and also writing animation, and I really love the character. Because I had written for Wonder Woman on Justice League Action as well, they were like “hey, you have a history with this character,” and I have a really close personal connection to her; she’s my girl. They were like “what would you do?” and I was like “this is what I would do!” A lot of our storyline is based off the Rucka/Johnson run, and we wanted to use a lot of characters from that, and I also wanted to nod to the villains that had been in the live-action movie as well. So that just ended up rounding out our cast, and it ended up being a lot of ladies, but I think more importantly, it’s a lot of stories about Aries, it’s a lot of stories about Zeus that I felt like these are villains still or maybe got a little less spotlight that we could still like tell some interesting stories for fans.
So Rucka/Johnson, you mean more the “Day in the Life” from the early 2000’s and what she’s doing when she’s not in the Justice League?
Yeah, yeah, exactly. They have a very grounded view, and they gave her a specific point-of-view of that ancient world mindset in a modern setting. And also, she has such a great sense of duty, of understanding that protecting innocents costs things, it costs yourself, you have to risk things in a fight, and I really wanted to bring that weight. But Wonder Woman isn’t just being naive. You can sometimes have with superheroes the feeling that “Well nothing is ever going to kill me so of course I’ll jump in to the bullet.” Well, that makes the bullet not have much impact because you’re not risking anything. So it was important for me to really dial-up. One of the reasons we have so many villains is I really wanted it to start to feel like, “No, there is a real risk for me to do this, and I’m going to do it anyway.” Because I feel like that’s a real heroic moment, is when you can lose, and you stand up anyway because it’s the right thing to do.
What do you think is the biggest challenge writing Wonder Woman as a character?
That’s unfair because I really like writing Wonder Woman. It easy to really fall into the “I’m from the Ancient World, and none of this thing makes sense anymore.” It’s like really? You want to keep that balance of she’s a smart person, she gets how things work, she doesn’t know how everything in this culture works. So trying to keep her feeling like an intelligent, capable, adaptable hero while still also showing she is a little bit fish out of water is kind of a balance you got to walk.
Three years ago, they talked about Wonder Woman being bisexual. As a writer, was this something you wanted to explore?
I’ve always thought of Wonder Woman as bisexual because in the comics I came up with, she was bisexual, and I’m bisexual. It’s not necessarily a huge part of the storyline just because I don’t tend to write a lot of romance. Like this is an action movie, this is a hero story, so there are romantic elements. But at least in my mind, Diana’s bi until I’m not allowed to say that.
Were there any pieces of writing or any works at all that inspired how you went about writing her character?
Yeah, like I said, I really love the Rucka/Johnson run so I really tried to pull a lot for that because that was one of my favorite runs of her. I also try to pull in some of the Bronze Age Wonder Woman, some of the live-action, in terms of tone because I feel like a lot of our audience, that was going to be their first version of Wonder Woman cinematically. So, we are in canon with the other DC animated movies, but I wanted it to be that, if you’ve only ever seen the live-action movie, she didn’t feel like a totally different person. And she’s not that far from the DC Animated Movie, but I wanted to try and bridge that and make that feel like it was a nice mash-up. So like those were sort of the three sources I was trying to pull from. But you kind of want to put your own spin on it.
Specifically, Gal Gadot, are there any inspirations or things you took from her?
Yeah, she did such a good job of giving Wonder Woman a gentleness, like just an unapologetic gentleness. You know that thing when she sees a baby for the first time, and she’s like “aw baby!” It’s like yeah you’ve never seen a baby before, “oh my god, that’s so cool.” She had such an open-heartedness that I really liked. I think it’s really easy to make Wonder Woman “female thor” or really push her to be as brutal as she can be, so she feels like she stepped out of 300 or something like that. She really does have that open(ness), she’s from a Utopian society or a society trying to build a Utopia so I really didn’t want to lose that feeling that she genuinely is a gentle-hearted person.
In the trailers, there is a quote about the prophecy of a Themysciran going to protect the world of Men. Do you feel like Wonder Woman feels like she is being dictated to do that or is this something that she wants herself to fulfill?
I think it’s not so much a “Wonder Woman vs Fate” where Wonder Woman feels shackled to her destiny; it’s more like “this is supposed to happen, and this is the circumstances right? So now we are going to do this. I’m going to do this. I’m stepping up to the plate.” And her mom doesn’t want to risk and lose her only daughter. It’s like, No. You saw in the trailer, she says “Man’s world is past saving. I’m not losing you to that forever.” And it’s sort of that interesting thing of like, what happens when your parents have taught you these lessons all your life about what to do and how to behave and what’s important, and then when the rubber hits the road, things change. It’s a real different thing that someone someday is going to have to go out and defend Man’s world vs You, your daughter is going to have to do that. So I really wanted to kind of play with that idealism vs realism.
Looking at what’s happening in Hollywood, is there more freedom and opportunities to write stories about women superheroes?
I mean, there’s definitely, and look, I remember starting writing and having people be like “we shouldn’t have a girl, A girl, on the team, because it will tank toy sales” I remember. I remember being in a meeting once where they said “we’ll differentiate our female characters by their cup sizes.” So, yeah, things are better. They’re not great, that’s a pretty low bar, but I think it’s more, the more interesting change is that I’m sort of in the first generation that grew up with anime, grew with the idea that animation was not just for kids, and I think you’re really starting to see the rise of adult-oriented animation because of that. And you’re starting to see animation do really different things and reach different audiences and become more a medium that tells stories that you can’t produce in live-action for less than a 100 million dollars instead of just a thing that we give to kids. So that’s been really exciting, and being a part of a group of people writing animation now, we grew up wanting to write animation. It’s not just “oh we couldn’t make it in something else, this is a kind of things we are doing to get by.” We love these brands, and we are trying to bring an art to these brands. Now that everything that has been in cartoon culture is now in pop culture, and everything that’s been in comic culture is now pop culture, there is a level of respect for the material that I think wasn’t there before from the outside world.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is available on digital today. A physical release on 4K Combo Pack & Blu-ray Combo Pack will release on October 22.
Here’s the trailer for Wonder Woman: Bloodlines: