If you check actress Rosario Dawson’s IMDB she has an astonishing 107(!) credits under her belt. You might remember her from appearances in Kids or Sin City, but a number of these credits are from voiceover work on animated films like Lego Batman where she played Barbara Gordon aka Batgirl to her fifth time as Wonder Woman in the DC Animated film Wonder Woman: Bloodlines. Later this fall she returns to Kevin Smith’s View Askew universe in Jay and Silent Bob Reboot and takes out zombies in Zombieland: Double Tap. Hot Nerd Fall indeed.
On Day Two of New York Comic Con 2019, the mad crush of the show floor felt distant in the belly of the Jacob Javitz Convention Center, where media is being held. Her press manager for the day warned me that Dawson was already a half-hour behind thanks to traffic. Just as he says it, the double doors leading to the media room burst open and there she is, dripping with New York swag. We enter a creepily lit meeting room that was probably used in an episode of Law and Order. Inside, she slings off her black trench coat and casually mentions having just landed from LA this morning, catching some kind of sleep on the plane, maybe forgetting to slap on deodorant and hasn’t had any coffee. The energy level? This is just how she is.
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This is your fourth time as Wonder Woman? What about this character that brings you back?
Fifth! I think. It's Wonder Woman! I grew up with Wonder Woman. Growing up, I used to always say I wanted to be Wonder Woman and people would be like “We should have a Latina Wonder Woman!” I'm like we did; Linda Carter is Latina!
She's so dynamic and the different iterations of her are the same way I love Batman. It's going back to old Batman storylines. It's elastic spandex Batman, climbing up the side of the building with the rope and with dad jokes. His go go gadget belt. Here she was, super dynamic with her cuffs and her invisible plane. How much it's just evolved to just really show this Amazonian warrior who has such a magical past and powerful mythos in a way that we love from Greek mythology all the way to the big ones like Superman. There's such power to her. I've always just thought she above, all as a character, was so interesting [to me].
Is there a part of you that goes into Diana or a part of her that comes back to you?
Both, definitely! Back and forth. every time I see Wonder Woman Wednesday and I see my name there im like ‘OMG I made it!’ I've gotten to do that with different characters I've gotten to play. There haven’t always been that many women’s stories especially that have carried for so many generations. Wonder Woman is one of those ones where my grandmother can relate it and my mom, this was a woman who drew all of us and inspired all of us. And sparked all of our imagination as a character out in the world. Just powerful, beautiful. You know how you sit there sometimes and you’re like, ‘I wish I could just spin around right now’ [laughs] just to see what could happen and that just feels real cool to be able to be a part of that and continue to share it for generations to come.
Speaking of being part of a character’s long film and TV life, Joker just dropped.
I KNOW I’M SO EXCITED.
Have you seen the movie yet?
No. I saw the trailer and I’m OBSESSED. The Joker is my favorite character and has always been. Harley Quinn is very close to follow. I just think there's something so dynamic in the same way that I talk about what I love about Wonder Woman. What I love so much about the Joker is that none of that really exists. It's all like this fabrication and to be playing with The Killing Joke which was an amazing graphic novel and to be playing with The King of Comedy like the movie is obviously doing. It's just touching on a lot of things that nostalgically as soon as I started the film [trailer], that got me so excited. It's also very modern in its sense of like I don't think you're gonna walk away with this is his storyline. This is what happened. You're not supposed to I love that at the end of The Killing Joke it’s just if you're gonna have a pass I might as well make it multiple choice and you're like YES! [Laughs]. I love the things that I've read about what Joaquin [Phoenix] did with the role. Like really studying all different kinds of psychological breakdowns and psychoses and figuring out a way [and] continuing to find new things to do so that even someone who's a trained psychologist couldn't watch it and go 'Oh, that person has this issue'. It's just all over the place; Joker is onto himself with whatever is fucking wrong with that guy, specifically wrong with him and hopefully it's not contagious because woo! [chuckling]
You talk about the deeper psychology behind these characters. Do you feel like this medium is just now expanding by going deeper into the psychology of these characters? Or has it always been there?
I think we've always done that. When you look back at the creation of Spider-Man, the idea being a young boy who is grappling with the loss of his uncle and you know having problems at school like that was unusual. Superheroes were always supposed to be right all the time and know everything all the time and not supposed to be so human and so fallible and vulnerable. Especially when you look at what Frank Miller did to just really transform Batman into a new kind of perspective where you really got into the psychological damage of ‘He saw his parents murdered in front of him as a child’ and decided to use his riches for good. But this is dark. This is some really dark stuff and maybe he has a lot more in relation to Joker than we've originally kind of investigated.
I think the reason we keep getting deeper and deeper into them is also because our society is becoming [that] much more sophisticated. We know a lot of these baseline stories and we want these characters to grow up in a lot of ways in the same way that we do. We want to see them graduate to a space where we can still imagine them in this world that exists now and still be as inspiring and as motivating and powerful. I think we're talking about mental health now in a way that we never had societally.
You know we're really getting into the weeds about different psychoses in the makeups of us and how that affects our situations for our own safety and our own health and what it is to go out there and have villains in the streets who have problems who are going to shoot people because of them and not get or do get dealt with.I think it's just great that even though it's not just an escape to watch these big tentpole movies. There's also still a lot there in relation to loss and love and courage and shame and vulnerability that I think is really dynamic and really awesome for all of us to be able to explore especially because there are so few things societally that we all share.
So we do have [these] big projects like this with characters that have existed for so long that have a generational impact. It's something that in some way we can all relate to or at least share or communicate our ideas around. And I think that's just really critically important because we need to grapple with all of this stuff in a lot of ways and by whatever means necessary.
Comics are definitely a medium that we all share a connection with. You were part of an anthology with former Marvel writer Edgardo Miranda Rodriguez for his character La Boriquena. The book, Ricanstruction, has her teaming up with various DC characters including Wonder Woman and tells stories about pre-and post Hurricane Maria Puerto Rico with proceeds went to Hurricane Maria relief efforts. How did that come together?
YES! I’m doing a signing with him here [at New York Comic Con] too. He was like, ‘Are you bringing your Borinquena suit?’ and I was like, ‘No. I still need to get it fixed cus I’m flaquita and can’t fill it out.’ [laughs]
My uncle [DC illustrator] Gustavo [Vasquez] drew that chapter [titled ‘La Borinquena’] because it’s multiple contributors. I co-wrote the piece with my friend David Atchison who I did the O.C.T [her 2012 comic book, Occult Crimes Taskforce] with. Then my Uncle Gus did the art for it and then Frank [Miller] actually did our cover piece for it which is just super dope.
With being the voice of Wonder Woman, sort of the face for La Borinquena and your love of comics where do you see this headed? A possible movie?
It's getting a lot of love. The more that we can continue to get it out there the more people are really moved and motivated inspired by her. It's pretty remarkable to be able to see the response that we're getting and seeing little kids dressed up like her and especially as an Afro Latina. Right after Hurricane Maria and all of the devastation and so much of the conversation around Puerto Rico, to be able to put it from a different perspective that talks about the environment, that talks about our history, remembers just our connection to the land. That art and poetry and beauty and magic. I hope that there's a show I hope that there's a movie, I hope that there's all of it. Wherever you see comics expanding into, I can see La Borinquena doing the same because she's that dynamic of a character. We just need to continue getting her out there so I was really happy that I could be in town and when I told I told Edgardo that I was going to be here for this, he was like “Yo you think we could do a signing?” My Uncle Gus is coming and I was like “let's all do it.” The impact already has been a really amazing. He's already spent tens of thousands of dollars with different organizations on the ground there [in Puerto Rico] and they still need a lot more. So it's just really exciting to show the power and impact of comics in the comic book community which I don't think is very often tapped into these ways. This is a very big robust loving loyal community. If this is the way that we can spread the message of La Borinquena, she's already helping every day. That's the kind of hero and heroine I want to be.
Wonder Woman: Bloodlines is out now on digital from WB/DC and available October 22 on Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack and Blu-ray Combo Pack. You can catch Rosario’s return as Becky in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Reboot October 15 and in Zombieland: Double Tap October 17.