A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year is the first feature-length movie based on two seasons of DC Super Hero Girls, very short "webisodes" that aired online in 2015 and 2016. The movie also ties in with the DC Comics-Time Warner-Mattel release of action figures and products related to the high school-age versions of established female comic book characters, both heroes and villains. Audiences meet perennial favorites (i.e., Super Girl, Bat Girl, Wonder Woman) as kids and get a glimpse of their backstories, family relationships, and individual personalities. Though focused on the girls, this film doesn't stint on the superhero action. There are enough battles, explosions, evildoers, and threats to the planet to satisfy cartoon action fans and to keep the story moving swiftly. In this first film installment, the antagonists come from outside of Super Hero High, so the ethnically diverse schoolmates (familiar as "good" guys and "bad" guys) must band together to defeat them. This is OK for kids who are comfortable with pretend vs. real violence.
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What's the story?
An assortment of long-established comic book kids of Super Hero High School is eagerly awaiting the upcoming ceremony in DC SUPER HERO GIRLS: HERO OF THE YEAR. Who will be the chosen "hero" this year? And just as they're adjusting to the fact that former nemesis Big Barda has enrolled at SPHS, some strange things happen that set everyone on edge. Special gems and personal treasures are stolen! A shadowy figure is seen menacing the building. Bat Girl (Mae Whitman), Super Girl (Anais Fairweather), Wonder Woman (Grey Griffin), and their assorted quirky buddies determine to solve the mysteries. Unfortunately, they're not aware of the imminent presence of supervillain Eclipso (formerly a male DC comic villain, now a woman voiced by Mona Marshall) and her plans to control the planet with darkness. With supervillain Dark Opal to assist in her evil plot, Eclipso needs only Super Girl's special crystal given to her by her family on Krypton to complete the weapon that will make it all possible. Will the superheroes find a way to uncover Eclipso's terrible plot? And which of them will use her most special talents to foil that plot and win Hero of the Year?
Is it any good?
With the emphasis here on teen girls in action mode, these superheroes are proactive, competent, courageous, and, best of all, not shopping, flirting, and primping. While the animation is routine and the story sometimes overpopulated and overcomplicated, the performances are upbeat and fun. Younger kids might not be able to follow all the intricacies of broken shields, quick trips to other planets, missing gems, and even a "helicopter" mom, but it doesn't really matter. Rooting interest is strong in DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year. Dependent upon one's viewpoint about violence -- does it go down easier when girls are wielding the weapons and the spells? -- this franchise will find an audience. And it will certainly be another marketing bonanza for DC Comics, Warner Bros., and Mattel.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how DC Super Hero Girls: Hero of the Year shows girls at the heart of the cartoon action and violence. They are just as brave, enterprising, and powerful as their male counterparts. Is this a good thing? Why, or why not?
Have you noticed that while girls will often watch shows that appeal mostly to boys, boys don't often respond to female-centered kids' programming? Because the film includes traditional superhero action (i.e., battles to save the planet, hand-to-hand combat with evil villains), do you think boys will find the story entertaining and help change that practice?
This franchise is set in a special high school, featuring long-established characters in their early years. Do you like seeing these icons as they grow up, developing their skills and personalities? How does it enhance a marketing brand's ability to reach younger kids?
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