Professor Marston and the Wonder Women: Needs More Bondage

I’ve heard over and over for years that Wonder Woman was created by a man in a polyamorous, kinky relationship with two feminist women, and that’s always been in the back of my mind as part of the character’s charm. I didn’t know that relationship started off with a professor and his wife (who should have been a professor herself, but was at least acting much in the same capacity despite the credentials being chauvinistically withheld from her) and… one of their students. I have to admit, that was a bit of a first act sucker punch to my gut, and the rest of the movie was basically working with a two-strike count. (Sorry for the baseball metaphor, it couldn’t be avoided.) Although the movie goes out of its way to make it quite clear she’s at an emotionally mature age (22), I’m just immediately uncomfortable with relationships where there’s any kind of supervisor/supervisee kind of power disparity. This is especially thorny when you consider that a lot of the late second and third acts deal with these characters facing prejudice and the fact that no one has a right to judge their love, and that could’ve gotten very uncomfortable were it not for the fact that the three characters were brought to a place where they were much more equal partners before the narrative went anywhere near those themes.

Still, it was a bit rocky in the early going. Like, there was that incredibly hot scene where Olive was spanking her sorority sister and throughout the whole thing I couldn’t not be distracted by how uncomfortable it was that Will and Elizabeth were perving on it. At that stage of the movie, I was still feeling pretty uncomfortable with the fact that they were sexually interested in their student. And the fact that it was never really ever overtly addressed is honestly a little frustrating, though of course I have no idea how that aspect of their relationship panned out in real life, it’s just not super responsible of the movie to kind of implicitly shrug at the whole thing.

Honestly, the fact that I ended up really liking this movie after this rocky start is pretty damn impressive. I guess that’s what happens when you have a movie that explicitly endorses bondage, polyamory, queerness, and feminism to an extent. (It’s very non-intersectional feminism. And I’m sure someone is going to come along and lecture me about the fact that the movie is based on real people and was set in the 30s and 40s, and I get that, but it’s still worth bringing up.)

In terms of how this movie broke through the walls I initially put up, I guess it has a lot to do with the fact that its third act deals with two things that always manage to hit me where I live: the death (or impending death) of a romantic partner and violent prejudice. I just can’t handle that stuff, and it always feels so meaningful to me when it’s done even halfway well. So YMMV, certainly.

I do have one intensely superficial complaint: this movie needed kind of a lot less cosplay and kind of a lot more bondage when it comes to our trio’s sex life. Most of the bondage in the movie is confined to comic book panels, and those are damn awesome comic book panels and all, but in order to link what the characters are actually doing to what they’re saying about bondage, their sex life shouldn’t just look like a half-naked fashion show. Like, the scene at the burlesque shop where Elizabeth ties Olive up was fucking incredible, and all I’m saying is this movie really could’ve used a few more like that to justify exchanges like, “Doc, there’s, like, twice as much bondage stuff in here.” “Three times. I tripled it.”

(B-Rank)


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