Movie Review: Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

A queer and kinky superhero origin story

click to enlarge Hall, Evans and Heathcote stroll through their alternative lifestyle.
Hall, Evans and Heathcote stroll through their alternative lifestyle.

There’s precious little comic book content in this origin story of Wonder Woman, thankfully. Luke Evans, one of the generic male movie stars currently all the rage—part of the Fast and the Furious family, he also played Gaston in Beauty and the Beast with the even more boring Dan Stevens—is William Moulton Marston, a psychologist at Harvard. With his equally qualified wife Elizabeth (the formidable Rebecca Hall), he’s in process of inventing the lie detector, which is quite tested when Olive (Bella Heathcote) applies for their student internship.

The three of them enter into a polyamourous relationship, which expands into kink, which is problematic for the buttoned-down era they live in (the 1940s). All of this inspires Marston to create the Wonder Woman comic, which is a mere side note in this tale—director Angela Robinson (DEBS) uses it as a framing device, as Marston is questioned by a representative of the Child Study Association (Connie Britton, disappointingly uptight) about the bondage images in his supposedly family-friendly material. Hand-wringing over alternative lifestyles is boring and the movie slows noticeably in these parts, but the scenes of the trio together, feeling their way through this new approach to sex and relationships, border on thrilling. The queer Robinson is a great eye to have trained on this story (even if the man’s name still comes first)—her camera doesn’t ogle, it observes, without judgment. 

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