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OUTING AN ICON: Ever wonder where Wonder Woman came from? A new film discovers the kinky origin story of our favorite comic book super-heroine.

Fresh from its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, and its national release this past October, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women created serious showbiz buzz and critical acclaim. The film depicts the lives of the three people who were the driving force behind the creation of the iconic superhero, Wonder Woman.

Writer/director Angela Robinson [DEBS, The L Word, True Blood, How to Get Away With Murder) is a lifelong fan of the beloved comic-book series. Almost a decade ago she came across startling facts about the origins of the superhero that stuck in her mind. In a Wonder Woman history book, Robinson discovered a discussion on the creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston (played in the film by Luke Evans), and the 1920s sexual bondage controversy surrounding his polyamorous relationship with his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and one of his college students, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). And thus Robinson's magical film journey began.

Hidden in the once unexamined life of Dr. Marston was a polysexual feminist adventure. Marston resisted the male-centric superhero craze that was taking the nation by storm and, instead, wanted to show the world that a woman could have the same amount of power and strength as her male superhero counterparts. Marston wasn't even a writer. He was a psychologist, with a Harvard Ph.D., and the inventor of the lie detector machine. How did he came to write one of the most famous comics of all time with a background like that? He incorporated his very own life experiences and relationships with women he loved into the creation of an iconic and beloved character.

Marston was a feminist who developed the concept of the DISC theory--a behavioral tool that shows us that all human interaction is broken down into four behaviors: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance. The essence of Wonder Woman stems directly from this theory while embodying a part of Marston himself and the women he loved.

The film closely examines this love triangle and the price paid for unconventional ideas. "This was a truly organic love story between three people," Robinson told Curve at the Toronto International Film Festival. "Their love was like a tripod. If one leg fails it would topple over and break."

While researching new ways to perfect the lie detector machine through the use of monitoring the human body, Marston and Elizabeth enlist the help of Olive, the eager student in Marston's psychology class.

The three begin to question their feelings toward one another, which causes a slight rift at first but quickly escalates to a full-scale passionate romance when their attractions ignite one late evening at the university.

Discovered, they were excused from their academic positions, compromising their research and livelihood; but they persevered. The thruple moved to the New York City suburbs and started having children.

"This relationship was so contemporary for the time. It was really important not to label their relationship, either," said Robinson. "There weren't identities. It was a modern interoperation."

Marston took each of Elizabeth and Olive's vivacious traits and created a composite woman, eternal and empowered. "These two women were profound with sexuality," said Robinson. "It infused into Wonder Woman's DNA."

When some of the overt sexuality depicted in the comic books raised red flags with censorship boards, Marston was put under scrutiny and interrogated about the overall messaging of the comic, specifically Wonder Woman's golden rope, which signified bondage and dominance.

In order to explore the bondage element of the Marston triangular relationship, Robinson recruited the help of female dominatrices, "because I wanted it to be explained from a woman's perspective and to include the emotional and intellectual reasons Marston found it attractive."

The unfortunate reality of the time period was that they were condemned for their beliefs, practices and behaviors. In spite of the fear of becoming social pariahs, the three ultimately persevered through their struggles.

Robinson is successful in showing a truly polyamorous relationship that withstands the pressures of the time and remains interesting today. The power exchange between each character flows through the film with ease, and shines brightly in the superhero we know today. The strength of Wonder Woman wouldn't exist without this tripartite bond and the romance that forged it.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women delivers an important message about pursuing truth and complete dedication to one's beliefs. These three have a longing to be with one another, they respect each other, and they value each other on the highest pedestal.

In an age where we feel as though the times are headed backwards, and being a woman means you have to fight for equality all over again, Robinson shows us that women did, do, and can hold the power.

When asked what she thought the definition of a "wonder woman" was, she simply responded, "Take out the 'wonder' and you'll have your answer." (professorm.movie.com)

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women will be available on Blu-ray and digital in January 2018.

Please Note: Illustration(s) are not available due to copyright restrictions.

Caption: The wonder of a woman

Caption: Angela Robinson directs
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Title Annotation:FILMS
Author:Tedesco, Lisa
Publication:Curve
Date:Dec 1, 2017
Words:851
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