I’m definitely not a fan of superhero movies. In fact, I came into the theatre to watch “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” wholly expecting the main character to be played by Gal Gadot. Fortunately for me, this is not your average superhero film. “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” is actually a biopic about the lives of Elizabeth & William Marston (Rebecca Hall & Luke Evans), and their joint girlfriend, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote) – and the creation of Wonder Woman.
Don’t expect to get the truth from this movie, however, it’s highly fictionalized for the screen. For one – William had a lot more than two lovers, and he also never taught at Harvard, and Olive never attended Harvard, either. Aside from this, the film does delve into somewhat unexplored territory, such as polyamorous relationships and sexual fetishism.
Is anyone TRULY surprised that Wonder Woman was created by a man that loved to watch nude women be tied up in bondage? Wonder Woman’s ridiculous leotard of a costume should be proof enough, and in fact, it is implied by the film that Wonder Woman’s now-famous costume was inspired by Olive dressing up in a corset, tiara, cuffs, and boots for a lesson in bondage.
However provacative bondage, spanking, and open relationships seem on paper, though, I definitely wouldn’t describe this film as provocative or “sexy”. In fact, many of the sex scenes are a little ridiculous and absurd – such as the professor and his wife spying on Olive’s sorority’s hazing and watching as Olive paddles new recruits. For a film that wants to shed light on the true backstory of Wonder Woman, wouldn’t you assume that they would rightfully take the sex in the movie a bit more seriously? It was William Martson’s sexual fetishes that helped him dream up the character, after all. Wouldn’t it be more revolutionary and inherently more “feminist” if it concentrated more on the into the devious, dark-side of sex that these women entered? All with consent, of course.
The movie is framed by Marston being interrogated by the director of the Child Study Association of America, Josette Frank (Connie Britton). Frank is grotesquely closed-minded, making her a quick villain. Also in starring roles are Oliver Platt as Max Gaines, a pioneer in the creation of modern comics, and JJ Field as Charles Guyette, who is described as “The Godfather of American Fetish Art”.
The saving grace of this film was definitely Rebecca Hall. Her powerful acting kept me interested in a film that had flimsy dialogue, and an overall “silly” view of BDSM. In fact, I wanted to learn more about Elizabeth Marston once the film was over – only because of Hall’s performance. Even though Rebecca Hall impressed, I would still only give this film a 5 out of 10, just because I found it to be pretty boring and uninspired.