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The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Vixen: The Movie is the first feature-length, animated film starring this superhero who has appeared as an ancillary character in DC Comics' stories since 1981. Mari McCabe (voiced by Megalyn Echikunwoke), now dubbed "The Vixen," is a strong, female, African-American leader and crime-fighter who has the gift of utilizing the power of the earth's entire animal kingdom. This "movie" is actually a smoothly edited compilation of all episodes from Vixen's two seasons as a web series with five-minute episodes that streamed in 2015 and 2016 on Canada's CW Seed. Mari, aided upon occasion by some of DC's other franchise heroes, comes up against an array of supervillains in her efforts to protect the innocent. Viewers can expect lots of cartoon action, some of it violent and with all manner of lethal weaponry (fire, gunshots, hand-to-hand combat) and forceful superpowers (speed, strength, animal prowess). Along with the fierce action, there is a smattering of mild profanity ("ass," "hell," "bitch," "pissed off") which makes this Warner Bros. Animation entry appropriate only for tweens and up.
What's the story?
In VIXEN: THE MOVIE, Mari McCabe (Megalyn Echikunwoke), descended from an African culture rich in legend and magic, is looking for answers. Living in Detroit, a colleague of the Flash and Arrow, Mari wants nothing more than to protect the innocent citizens of her city and to fully understand who she is, where she came from, and the origin of her special power: an ability to call upon the abilities of any animal who has ever lived on this planet. Seeking help from an enigmatic university professor (Sean Patrick Thomas); aided by her loving foster father, Chuck (Neil Flynn); and with a special talisman as her guide, Mari encounters an array of villains who would do her harm as she searches for her past and attempts to rid Detroit of its soulless criminals.
Is it any good?
Though created in earlier DC Comic book stories, Mari McCabe, female, African in origin, spirited, resolute, and occasionally fallible, is a superhero for the 21st century. Vixen: The Movie, the first full-length feature to focus on this young crime fighter, who is nothing if not a stunning model of boldness, confidence, and empathy for girls who love action, should find fans of all genders. And the good news is, the folks who've put together these webisodes now released as a film got the introduction right. As Mari McCabe finds answers to her strange, mysterious past, the audience comes along for the ride. Vixen's journey as a child from the heart of Africa to a young adult on the streets of Detroit is carefully plotted and dynamically recreated. Only the fierceness of its action sequences and a sprinkling of naughty words will keep it from younger kids who might also respond to Vixen and her eclectic animal gifts.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about possible reasons the Vixen has been given her own web series and now a feature-length film. What is there about today's culture that might make audiences respond to an African-American, female superhero? Do you think this character would have been successful in an earlier time? Why, or why not?
What is the meaning of the movie term "backstory"? Vixen: The Movie gives a brief but clear history of Mari McCabe's origins. Why is your viewing experience more satisfying when you have at least some "backstory" to help you understand the main characters?
In the past, some boys were reluctant to accept action movies with girls or women as leads. Do you think those attitudes are changing? Do you think boys, as well as girls, will respond to Vixen and her superpowers? Why?
- On DVD or streaming: May 23, 2017
- Cast: Megalyn Echikunwoke, Neil Flynn, Sean Patrick Thomas
- Directors: James Tucker, Curt Geda
- Studio: Warner Bros. Animation
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Superheroes, Adventures, Misfits and Underdogs
- Character Strengths: Courage
- Run time: 76 minutes
- MPAA rating: NR
- Last updated: March 13, 2020
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