From the moment I saw the trailer for Professor Marston and the Wonder Women I hoped that a theater close to me would play this film. Since I was exposed to the trailer, my wish was that at least on of the theaters around me would play this independent feature. Thankfully, I got my wish.
Despite my nerdy side, I will admit that I have only recently ventured into the backgrounds of those who created a lot of the comics I grew up reading. For years I have read them on and off, but the background stories of the people behind the comics were lost on me. Outside of Stan Lee, of course. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women has made me want to dive deeper into the world of the creators and writers behind some of my favorite superheroes.
The film follows William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) and his polyamorous life with his two wonder women, Elizabeth Marston (Rebecca Hall) and Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). During this time we see him grow from psychologist to creator of Wonder Woman and the struggle to represent bits and pieces of his beliefs, including the disc theory, within the pages of a comic and the controversy that arises along the way.
The wonderful part of this film is that it begs one to answer a not so simple question. A question that has plagued us all for many years. What is normal? I know there is an actual definition that Webster’s dictionary gives this word, but I do not feel such a thing truly exists. Normal is relative. Normal is what people make it. And when someone tries to change what you deem is normal sometimes we are left ostracizing them. There is no explanation that is good enough and there’s no gray area. You are right they are wrong. In many ways our society has been like this for some time, but in recent years this notion has grown far worse.
The kind of love that Elizabeth, William, and Olive shared together we rarely hear of in life. In fact, how many menage a trois pairings have you truly heard about? The only pairings I can think of are depicted in films such as Threesome and Jules and Jim. And I cannot say that either of those relationships end in such a manner that makes the polyamorous lifestyle a beautiful one to live. What William, Elizabeth, and Olive all had though was something far more beautiful than I ever expected to see. There’s a beauty in their relationship that can’t be matched. They all love each other no questions asked. Well, not too many questions.
Of course, there are people who do not bother asking questions in the first place about that which they do not understand. People will always fear what they do not know. The problem is that people do not try to understand each other. Questions are not readily set into place, but rather judgement. For example, there is a scene within the film where the true nature of the relationship Olive has with the Marstons is discovered. They go from friends with their neighbors to their neighbors calling them freaks immediately. There was no trying to understand them or understand their love. There was an instantaneous hatred for what they could not comprehend, nor did they care to comprehend. With their fear, more fear was brought upon the household.
Equally as important is the message of the empowerment of women and feminism. Women are not meant to merely be barefoot and pregnant in a kitchen somewhere. And the film also provides that message that even the smartest woman can and will take on a job that she might be too good for, or underappreciated at, in order to provide for her family. A woman will fight until the end of time to help provide for those she loves. And William makes sure to let all the women in his classroom know how important it is for them to get an education. He wants them to know that they can do anything, including be the next president of our great country. Nothing is limited just because you are born with a vagina.
Therefore, this mantra is drilled into Olive’s brain. She believes that no matter what occurs in her life she can overcome and she can make her life what she wants to live. This is not merely because of William though. Elizabeth plays a huge role in helping Olive come out of her shell. But the fact that both a man and a woman saying this becomes not only an important reason in the film for Olive to grow, but an important reason for women as a whole to grow as well. With the expectation that men rule the world, women need to strong women, and to hear from strong men as well that they will support us. Feminism is a right that both men and women should participate in. After all, that is the whole point. Everyone advocating for equal rights for women. So to see that message so well versed on screen was beyond gratifying.
In essence, these characters were made to give audiences hope that we can all move forward. By interpreting the real lives of Williams, Elizabeth, and Olive, audiences can learn the importance of tolerance, open-mindedness, and that being normal is overrated. We also learn that a life we are not happy with is not one we should invest on living. After all, shooting for your dreams should be everyone’s goal no matter how difficult a path that might become.