TIFF 2017: ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ is an Insightful Look Into the Minds of the Marston Family – Review
It took over 75 years for Diana of Themyscira, better known as Wonder Woman, to finally get her big screen feature debut. It was a long time coming and it’s a thrill that we finally got it. But what many people don’t know about Wonder Woman is the legacy of the family behind the very character’s creation. Touted as the world’s most famous female superhero, Wonder Woman came from the mind of psychology professor and inventor, William Moulton Marston.
As an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival, I had the pleasure of seeing this fantastic film and was struck by the powerful performances and great script. Written and directed by Angela Robinson, a self-proclaimed Wonder Woman comic book fan herself, the film delves into the mind and life of Professor William Marston (Luke Evans), his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and the third member of their polyamorous relationship, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote).
The opening scene in the film is broken up into two parts – one consists of various comic books being collected, most significantly a copy of Sensation Comics Wonder Woman #1 before we cut to Professor Marston at a hearing about the indecency within the pages of his Wonder Woman books, a hearing that is being spear-headed by Josette Frank (Connie Britton).
My first thought was: ‘If only they knew how much the books they were burning would be worth’ and then the significance struck me. It wasn’t just about getting rid of Wonder Woman – a character that Professor Marston wanted to use in order to further the feminist movement which he believed in so much – it was also about getting rid of the traces of the taboo elements society deemed to be perverse, blasphemous and unlawful; things that were much closely related to Professor Marston and the way he and his family chose to live their lives.
The film did a great job of explaining one of Marston’s most prominent ideas, DISC (dominance, inducement, submission, compliance) theory and the creation of the lie detector test with his wife, Elizabeth. All the pieces of his research and inventions ended up playing pivotal roles when his notion to create a new comic book character arose. The first issues of Wonder Woman were filled with images of DISC theory, mostly in the form of bondage and submission, and her lasso of truth stemmed from Marston’s work on the lie detector test.
In regards to the cast, Evans, Hall and Heathcote were a delight to watch and the relationship between the trio feels completely organic with chemistry that is through the roof; but Hall was most definitely the standout for me. She is commanding and draws your attention in every scene she’s in. As much as the film is about Marston, Elizabeth is the backbone of the story and the film in many ways, and Hall encapsulates this to perfection.
Certainly, one of the most interesting aspects of the film would be the polyamorous relationship that takes place between Marston, Elizabeth and Olive. I did not expect the film to be a love story, but that’s exactly what it turned out to be and it was beautiful. This unconventional love story is where the movie finds its heart and although the life that the Marstons live with Olive is one that only served to create obstacles for them, it was their love of one another that helped them survive all their trials and tribulations.
The film is one that’s easily enjoyable for those who are and are not fans of Wonder Woman because it is ultimately a story about strength, perseverance and love – three elements that Professor Marston made sure his character truly embodied. It’s a beautifully directed, written and acted film with every moment of the film a treat to watch.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women hits theaters on October 13, 2017. It’s definitely worth a watch!
Check out the pictures captured of Luke Evans and director, Angela Robinson at the premiere in the gallery below: