This past weekend I went to see Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. It’s a film loosely based on the creator of the titular comic book hero and the relationships between him and the women who inspired her. Whether or not you find it accurate of course depends on what you’ve heard/who you’ve read, as well as how you’ve decided to interpret the Marston’s and Olive’s relationship. Since the trio involved can no longer speak for themselves I’m choosing to focus this post on the film itself rather than whether or not it perfectly captures the actual peoples lives. I do this mostly because the film in my eyes does far more good than harm.
Over the course of my lifetime I’ve watched a lot of television and a lot of movies, however the amount of stories that I felt were truly relatable or that really informed me as a person is a much smaller number. Finding black/biracial characters has gotten easier, but I’ve found I don’t often relate to them in ways that aren’t about race and most lgbtqa+ rep, specifically bisexual people, is white or male. Then there’s the fun stuff like anxiety and depression. Obviously media can’t deliver to me 100% accuracy in that regard so I’ve mostly collected pieces that do a close enough job. For example last week I examined a little bit about why I love the fairy tale/1991 Disney version of Beauty and the Beast. I say all that to say that Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a film I’ll be adding to that collection.
To start with, considering the polyamorous nature of the main characters relationship, it can be inferred that the two women involved, Elizabeth and Olive were bisexual. They both clearly loved each other as well as William Marston and they were all intimate with each at varying points during the film. This matters for several reasons, one of them being Wonder Woman being canonically accepted as bisexual in recent years, and because the representation of bisexuality is solid. Though in person I’m not always very outspoken (depending on the crowd) Elizabeth to me was very relatable in that I too dealt with some internalized homophobia (and due to that and my social anxiety) find it easier to be private about most of my feelings. She probably struggled the most with the fact that their relationship was not normal, especially given the time period, despite being the powerhouse of the three of them normally.
Getting back to the polyamorous aspect of the character’s lives, I will say that due to lack of romantic experience I’m not entirely sure if that’s for me, however I know people who are in open relationships and who were very excited to see a non- vilified example of what that type of love looks like. Most sources I’ve seen say that the film delivers and from what I know and have witnessed I definitely agree. It’s very rare to canonically see this type of devotion in even straight/monogamous couples in media so in that regard the film also gave me something to think about in my own life.
The final part of this film that put’s it on my list is one that I don’t share much, mostly because it’s no one’s business, and that is the kink stuff. Like with my bisexuality I’ve realized you don’t need to always experience something directly to have any interest in it and while I may change my mind about some things as they come up in the future I can’t say I don’t find the ropes and role playing thing a bit intriguing*. What I liked about the film’s portrayal of that aspect of their relationship was that they were kind of already apart of the community even before they had a name for it. William Marston’s theories and Elizabeth and Olive’s interests/ positions in society (as women and as professor vs student) already gave their relationship an odd power dynamic that they’d shifted around before even touching any rope. From what I could see everything was safe, sane, and consensual which is essentially the little disclaimer all BDSM related activity should carry around which separates it from abuse.
All in all it’s definitely a movie I would watch again and possibly even add to a list of films I’d recommend people watch to get to know me better. The latter being a challenge I saw on twitter. Currently it varies but as of today it’s: Belle (2013), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Moonlight, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, and the Addams Family (1991 or 1993 version, either one).
As I stated before I’m aware that the directer (a black queer woman) took some liberties with the story of the Marston’s but I believe (having read about the other accounts of the relationship) that the films positive view of polyamory, bisexuality, and kink is too important to toss aside. No biopic is without a point of view and much like with Belle (2013) the directors emphasis on love and the uplifting matters to me and to a lot of others in these tiring times.
That’s all for today and like always, stay informed and be good to yourself!
**This is honestly just for fun (in case being Bi is still confusing or you just like music:
****Featured Image: My sister’s art . She did this for Inktober. It’s the Marston’s and Olive.