DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year is an upcoming direct-to-video animated film based on the DC Super Hero Girls franchise. It will be the first film in the DC Super Hero Girls franchise. The film premiered at the San Diego Comic-Con International on July 24, 2016, and it will be released on Digital HD on August 9, 2016 and on DVD on August 23, 2016.
Present at the round tables were: Cecilia Aranovich-Director, Jennifer Coyle-Producer, Tara Strong-Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy, Grey Griffin-Wonder Woman, Anais Fairweather-Supergirl, Teala Dunn-Bumblebee/Artemis and Stephanie Sheh-Katana.
Jennifer Coyle, Producer on Hero of the Year, described the movie as “The heroes of Superhero High take on their darkest foes yet. Dark Opal and Eclipso try to channel the powers of the amethyst at the top of the school in order to plunge the world into darkness and take over. Superhero High is the only thing standing between them and world domination.”
There are some ties to the animated shorts, but anyone who only watches this film will not be lost. Coyle and Director Cecilia Aranovich described the goal of the film as showing that “being a hero is not just a matter of who you are, but what you do and the decisions that you make,” all of which go into the competition for Hero of the Year.
The movie will be both an ensemble film and will highlight Supergirl and Wonder Woman, specifically. There continues to be the core group of characters as we have seen in the animated shorts, and there are other things currently in production which will focus on different characters.
As with Batman Unlimited, the creators and actors focused a great deal on how this line is for a younger audience, and in particular, younger girls. This line took place in an alternate universe and gave creators the ability to “wash away origins” and gave viewers the chance to “see a Harley who hasn’t met Joker yet.” The wardrobe of the characters was also affected, giving characters sensible outfits for superheroing, while “still looking great and not over-sexualizing them,” as Tara Strong said. Whether these designs will influence their mainstream counterparts is “too soon to tell” but both Coyle and Aranovich hoped so.
The creators were careful about getting too deep into the “mean girl” mentality and themes. They “want to support women supporting women,” Coyle said. Aranovich followed up by saying “these are superheroes who are teenagers, not the other way around.” Grey Griffin added that “people are beginning to see how cool it is to have a great stable of girl friendships and also male friendships. People are just friends; it’s not about having a cool superpower, gender, whatever, it’s about working together empowering one another.” To that end, both the creators and actors said that they would continue pushing for diversity every chance they got, wanting everyone to have their say.
Behind the scenes, this film, and the DC Superhero Girls line in general, is female-driven. Coyle and Aranovich talked about the “high degree of women artists working on this” and the “couple of male artists who were fathers and doing this for their daughters.”
“From an artist point of view,” Aranovich said, “women bring something else to the table because [these characters] are superheroes but they are also teenage girls.” Grey Griffin and Tara Strong agreed that animation is a great medium for women actors and directors, and they described how far it has come from one woman in a sound booth with several men.
And what can we expect from the different characters?
Teala Dunn said “you can expect lots of sass from Bumblebee, but also her caring side and the sacrifices that she makes for her friends.” She wanted girls to take away from her character that she is giving to others and a female black role model for girls being introduced to superheroes.
Anais Fairweather said that we will see “Supergirl’s backstory and history, Krypton, her relationship with her parents, and how Dark Opal uses these things against her. You will also get to see a lot of what Supergirl feels.” Fairweather added that she wanted the character to show the benefits of self-empowerment and [girls] seeing the possibilities available to them. “She’s an every-woman; every person can relate to her and her story.”
“Katana will be kicking butt a lot,” Stephanie Sheh said. “She has a strong sense of honor and a leadership personality” so she hoped girls see that its okay to be competitive.
Tara Strong described it as “endearing, sweet, and cute to play villains in this world before anything bad happens.” She saw Harley and Ivy as characters proving that “you don’t really have to have a superpower to be a hero, and working together and empowering your fellow sisters is always a good thing. You can be strong no matter how tall you are.”
And as for Wonder Woman, “the Meryl Streep of the Hero of the Year award (as Grey Griffin described her)?” Griffin said that “Wonder Woman is letting other heroes shine, and championing the other girls.”
I was unable to attend the premiere of the film as it was going on during the actual round tables, but given the high quality of the animated shorts and the recent graphic novel “Finals Crisis” that came out, I am sure that it continues to be a fun adaptation of the DC Comics universe with positive messages for girls and anyone else who watches.