Movie Review: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

By Maria Lubanovic, Staff Writer
[Annapurna; 2017]
Rating: 7.5/10

For the people who don’t know about the origins of Wonder Woman, this movie might be a little shocking. For the people who know or at least read a book about it, this movie may like an untrue representation of history. The perspective of this film is a biopic of the relationships shown in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, but this film doesn’t hold up when the lasso of truth is wrapped around it. One of Marston’s grandchildren claims the film is more fantasy than reality, but either way, it’s exciting and well-made.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women follows the relationship between William Moulton Marston, his wife Elizabeth, and their eventual live-in girlfriend, Olive Byrne. The Marstons invented the polygraph, a machine that tells whether someone is telling the truth. Professor Marston’s techniques are unorthodox at best, and he relies on DISC theory, the idea that people are always in states of dominance, inducement, submission, and compliance. They meet Olive when she applies to be a teacher’s assistant to help with their psychology experiments. As they all work together, the three fall in love. The trio starts a tumultuous polyamorous relationship, having to hide it from everyone and getting fired from their employer., Eventually, they continue their living arrangement in the suburbs while hiding their relationship from everyone.

The relationship between the three is respectful, but not without a few bumps. As the movie progresses, the inspiration for Wonder Woman can be seen in the two women. Elizabeth is intelligent, witty, and a “grade-A bitch”. Olive is beautiful, smart, and caring. Together, they are the inspiration for the best-selling female superhero of all time. Other themes, like the idea of having secret identities and conflicting with the norms of society, are woven through the plot. For once, polyamory is portrayed in a way that isn’t evil or dangerous, but in a way that can be respectful and loving between all parties.

Through the narrative, Marston is interrogated by one of the heads of a Child Study organization looking to ban Wonder Woman for its sexual and violent nature. Marston uses DISC theory to explain why Wonder Woman is not only important, but a feminist. After the conflict between Marston and the Child Study people, he makes Wonder Woman kinkier, extra violent, and super gay.

The movie is rated R. It’s about the early iterations of Wonder Woman, so there is kinky shit everywhere. Wonder Woman is canonically bisexual, and she frequently ties up and beats her enemies in a sexual way. There are whips, ropes, bondage, women in burlesque outfits, and there are several sex scenes between William, Elizabeth and Olive. Wonder Woman has always been kinky, and it goes back to the inspiration taken from the women Marston was with.

Even with all of this, the film doesn’t lose its feminist message. All of the acts are consensual, and there is mutual respect between all the members of the relationship. Elizabeth is just as smart as William, and he knows it. When Marston defends Wonder Woman, it is because he believes that woman and girls need a dominant role model. Wonder Woman was stripped of all her powers after Marston died. If he hadn’t died so young, Wonder Woman would probably be even bigger than she is now.

Watch the trailer here:

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