Wonder Woman already dominated the 2017 box office once, but can she do it again? Well, she'll get the chance with a new movie telling the story behind Wonder Woman's creation. Gal Gadot will be nowhere in sight in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Instead, psychology professor William Marston (played by Luke Evans) is the star. Mostly, the film focuses on how his relationship with his wife Elizabeth, (Rebecca Hall), and the couple’s romantic partner, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), inspired him to create the first female superhero. What the first trailer for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women shows is that some of the most interesting parts of Wonder Woman's origin story took place beyond the comic book page.
The indie movie, written and directed by Angela Robinson, takes a closer look at the unconventional life of Marston, who wrote under the pseudonym Charles Moulton. Robinson, who told Entertainment Weekly she's a "lifelong Wonder Woman fan," is specifically focusing in on his rather taboo relationship with Elizabeth and Olive. The three lived together and raised a family, something that Robinson says she first learned from a coffee table book that Fast and the Furious actor, Jordana Brewster, gave her after they worked on the 2004 film D.E.B.S. together.
Robinson found it fascinating, wondering how this relationship — which defied conventions and was kept a secret because of that — affected the characterization of Wonder Woman. Robinson told EW, "The dialectic in the movie was between fantasy and reality, and that they really found freedom in their lives in this notion of fantasy, be it role play [or] the comics."
It's to be assumed that these three creators are the heroes of this story, who fought for love and truth — not unlike Wonder Woman, a progressive character for her time if there ever was one. But from the looks of the Professor Marston trailer, Robinson is also delving into how the character was received, even playing a bit of devil's advocate by questioning whether Wonder Woman's origin was empowering to women or fulfilled one man's fantasy.
This is done by looking at those who felt Wonder Woman was nothing more than smut. One of those people was Josette Frank, an expert on children’s literature who believed Wonder Woman wasn't right for kids. In the trailer, Frank, played by Connie Britton, is seen telling Marston that his comic book is "reckless." Shots of an illustrated Wonder Woman fill the screen, with her being bound or choked to prove Frank's point that "every issue of Wonder Woman is filled with violence, torture, and sadomasochism." To her, there was nothing empowering about this character.
But on the flip side, the film shows how Marston's wife Elizabeth and partner Olive saw their kinks, such as bondage, as something powerful. It was a way for them to have full control over their bodies and their sexuality. "A woman must not be told how to use her freedom," Heathcote's Olive says. "She must find out for herself." It's a feminist message that jives with the way most of us see Wonder Woman — as a woman who was in charge of her body and able to use it in powerful ways.
What fans of Wonder Woman will really find out this fall is how this true story affects the way they see the feminist icon. In other words, be prepared for a whole lot of thinkpieces.