Vixen: The Movie
Vixen: The Movie 2017
One of the last shows that I actively covered over on my sister site Channel: Superhero was the first season of an animated series set in the Arrowverse and airing on the CW app/website CW Seed. One of my biggest issues in the webseries is that it felt more like a movie/full episode that was chopped up into episodes rather than an actual webseries. And while I didn’t continue in on watching the second season, they were cut together with a few extra scenes into this animated movie that falls right alongside the typical DC Animated movies. I do find that it’s somewhat appropriate that I’ve waited this long to review this film as it is Black History Month and in general, that’s where I’ve reviewed most Black superhero movies. I will also be updating my top Black superhero movies of all time list once I’ve watched Black Panther in just a couple week’s time. But as for the actual quality of this movie, it falls somewhere in the midrange of the average DC Animated movie. Vixen is an interesting character, but the movie itself doesn’t really do anything to make itself stand out as anything other than just another superhero origin story, just with a little African folklore flair to it.
Mari is the lead in this film and she’s set up as an angry, young Black woman. She starts off being chased by Flash and Arrow with an in medias res cold open before going to a flashback with her in jail before learning that she’s also an orphan who bounced around in the foster system and her adoptive mother is also dead. Talk about giving the main character issues upon issues. Eventually it’s revealed that she’s descended from an ancient African tribe and she’s the guardian of the totem of Anansi that allows her to tap into the spirit of whatever animal she can think of. This gives her the speed of a cheetah, the strength of an elephant, even the flight of a bird. It’s a power that starts out simple, but is used in more creative ways once it gets to the second half of the movie.
One of the biggest flaws of this film is something that is the case with many of these animated movies and that is the run time requires them to cram too much plot into too little time with no room to breathe or expand on many of the characters. It tends to fall into very quick fights and lightning quick double and triple crosses, especially when it comes to the initial villain who turns out to be Mari’s sister. And in the second half, she becomes an ally before turning on them to get the water totem and almost immediately coming back around to team up to fight the real villain. And to top things off, just minutes later she dies, wrapping up what should be a very complicated relationship in the span of about five minutes. The same trap goes for her relationship with the other Arrowverse heroes who she initially resists, then helps, then asks for help before finally becoming more or less part of the team. But once again, this isn’t something that develops through actual changing relationships, it just shifts from one scene to the next.
As far as a general origin story, it hits a lot of the right beats. Mari herself is an interesting character, and the film does do a few interesting things with her powers. As the film covers a certain period of time, it also allows for her changing appearance, giving her a few slightly different looks with a couple slight changes in her costume, and a change in her hairstyle. Though the hair change is quite possibly just to make her more closely resemble how she looks in her live action appearance which likely wouldn’t have been filmed until after the majority of the film had been animated. The fact that it includes African folklore, whether real or ficitionalized a la Marvel’s loose take on Norse mythology with Thor is a nice change of pace, and even though it has plenty of white side characters, it’s nice to have another movie starring a Black superhero. Not only that, but a Black woman, something that hasn’t been seen since the awful Catwoman movie. And while this isn’t the greatest superhero movie out there, it’s a far cry from that Halle Berry film. At this point, there doesn’t seem to be any information about whether Vixen will continue her series and I haven’t followed how prominent her live action character is outside of a series of cameos. But I do think it’s worth seeing more of her. Until next time, this has been Bubbawheat for Flights, Tights, and Movie Nights.