Fantastic Fest Review: PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN Inspires

Turns out Man's World has always needed Diana Prince.

Whether you’re into them or not, superheroes have become cornerstones of our culture. You can’t turn around without seeing them somewhere, and while that may be to the chagrin of some people, there’s no denying the comic’s power both in today’s world and throughout the ages.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women follows the story of psychologist William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans), his wife Elizabeth Marston (Rebecca Hall), and their partner Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). It takes a look at the difficulties of being in what was (and still is) considered an unorthodox relationship as well as the struggles of getting Wonder Woman made and distributed.

Professor Marston believes that his two lovers combined create the perfect woman. You can see the parts of Elizabeth and Olive that would eventually make up Diana Prince well before the story gets to the Amazonian making her way to comic pages. Olive is the side of Diana that is the healer. She’s kind, gentle, and a bit naïve at first. Elizabeth is the warrior. A fierce intellectual who has no time for the idiotic rules of mankind, while also being a bit of a control freak.

Despite their rocky beginning, the three form a life together. After their relationship is outed, and Elizabeth and the Professor are fired, the three move to a new town to start their family. Knowing that their love is forbidden regardless of the positions that they hold, they live under the guise of a husband and wife that took in Olive and her newborn son after her husband died. It’s a bit of a struggle at first, but the three make it work while falling into their own respective roles in the house. Olive takes care of the baby (and eventually babies), Elizabeth works as a secretary despite being the smartest in the room, and William writes.

Throughout their journey, the trio find themselves in several misadventures. This includes their stumbling into the BDSM community, in which William finds more inspiration for Wonder Woman. After some hesitance, these elements make their way into their relationship as well, leading to important conversations about consent that are often missing in larger films featuring the BDSM community. Their relationship continues to flourish with this added element, but things don't remain a fairy tale for long, even though they've all already faced their share of hardship.

Professor Marston creates and distributes Wonder Woman, and the family gets a few more good months, but things are cut short when a nosy neighbor discovers their secret. Things unravel in their world in more ways than one. On top of it all, the Professor finds himself having to defend Wonder Woman to a family group who wants to get the Amazonian pulled for what they consider to be lewd content.

Wonder Woman, and the content therein doesn’t hurt anyone. Diana Prince inspired people (and would continue to do so for 75 years). But there will always be those who believe that what folks do in the privacy of their home and what folks may choose to read are their business. There are countless powerful moments in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, and many of them take place when the Professor is passionately defending Diana Prince. Her pages contained what some may consider to be risqué, but they also brought hope. The Professor would spend the rest of his life defending those images, and the choice to include the elements he did into the comic.

The film may tell a story that took place 75 years ago, but it ties into the present in more ways than one. It’s heartbreaking to acknowledge that women are still fighting for equality and that people in Poly relationships are still shunned in most circles. There’s been progress, sure, but it’s hard to look at fights that have been going on for so long and acknowledge that there’s still so much further to go.

Despite all that, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women does exactly what Wonder Woman does whether on page or on screen: it inspires hope. William, Elizabeth, and Olive faced unbeatable odds. At the end of the day, they may have lost to them, but they decided that winning or losing in the eyes of the public wasn’t what mattered. They had each other, and they had Wonder Woman. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women illustrates a strong and fierce femininity that is not afraid to cry, be afraid, be sexual or be angry. It is powerful in the most perfect of ways, and all of you should absolutely rush to see it when it comes to theaters on October 13th

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