Was Doctor Poison a Great Mad Scientist?

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I loved the Wonder Woman movie. It was nearly perfect for the level of entertainment it provided me. I loved Chris Pine and the talented supporting cast, especially Lucy Davis as Etta. But ultimately, the movie had to sink or swim based on Gal Gadot, and she was amazing at every moment. The villains were great as well, for the most part.

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The one thing that didn’t impress me was the mad scientist, Doctor Poison. In spite of a nickname too on the nose, Isabel Maru had a classic mad scientist look with an implied tragic back story. She could have been great, but in the end, the writer’s failed her.


Spoiler Warning: I’m going to spoil some stuff.

Isabel was a Spanish chemist recruited by General Erich Ludendorff to create chemical weapons for the German army. At first she seemed a master of her own fate, creating the evil of her heart. We soon see her as a lapdog to the General, at the mercy to his will and whim. Even worse, we find out that she hadn’t even developed the poison of her own doing, instead having the menace spoon fed to her by Ares. To top it all off, she seems almost swayed by Chris Pine’s charming face and perfect accent, making her seem a foolish girl instead of the powerhouse she could have been.

She served the greater plot, which is the fate of most supporting villains, which is unfortunate in a movie celebrating woman power it all its marvelous glory. Still worse is her fate at the end, a pawn in Ares’ plan to tempt Diana. He gives Diana a chance to kill Isable for her crimes. Diana of course has pity on the good doctor, realizing that killing isn’t the answer, but love and sacrifice for others is what will heal the world and end the war.


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So, in the end, Isabel is a mere pawn in a game of immortals, which was highly disappointing to me. She had agency to act on Ares’ whispering, which made her an evil person. She did horrible things, murdering countless people. She should have had agency in her demise, for good or evil, instead of being a plot point in the conflict of the hero and villain.

A slight blemish in a fantastic film.


Jillian Holtzmann is my new favorite mad scientist!

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We’ve had Doc Brown and Egon Spangler as our prototypical good-guy mad scientist role models for so long. A great one doesn’t come around often, but Holtzmann is everything!

She’s brilliant, quirky, and endlessly hilarious. She creates the awesome, and drastically unsafe, tech with a certain flare and gusto. She fills the original role of Spengler so well, it is a honor to the late Harold Ramis.

In the face of ridicule, failure, and frightening specters, Holzman remains calm and chill until she’d ready to kick some ghost buttock. Her delight at their discoveries is refreshing and her inventions full of imagination and flash.

“We put a ghost in a box!”

Kate Mckinnen is fabulous in the role and brought the character to life. The interwebs keep speculating on Holzman’s sexual orientation, but I love that they chose to make it ambiguous and mysterious. She stays between no lines, and the most important accomplishment for her character was finding a family unit that accepted her for who she was no matter what.

“Safety lights are for dudes.”