Review: 'Professor Marston' Is Just as Wondrous as the Character He Created

Rachel LaBonte ’18 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Earlier this year, eager moviegoers flooded multiplexes all over the country and made Wonder Woman a hit. The female icon will be back on the big screen next month in Justice League, but for audience members who don’t want to waste time with Batman and Aquaman—and think that 2019 is a long wait for the next solo Wonder Woman movie—Professor Marston and the Wonder Women should help fill the Diana-sized hole in their lives.
A fairly traditional biopic with an incredible story at its center, Professor Marston details Wonder Woman’s origins as well as the interesting life of the man who thought her up. It may surprise some viewers to know the early Wonder Woman comics faced a great deal of controversy upon their release in the 40s, but they can see it all play out in the film. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) is a psychology professor who spends his classes lecturing about dominance and submission. His wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), works with him, and from their very first scene together it is clear their partnership is an equal one. He concedes that she is smarter than he is and supports her when she complains about her lack of a Ph.D. —because Harvard won’t give her one.

Bella Heathcote in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Photo Credit: Annapurna Pictures.
The Marstons’ perfect partnership is thrown for a loop when Bill hires a very pretty teaching assistant named Olive (Bella Heathcote). Elizabeth knows right away that her husband is attracted to the young woman, but she gives him permission to bring her in nonetheless. What Elizabeth doesn’t anticipate is her falling for Olive as well. There are several roadblocks that pop up, from Elizabeth’s denial of her feelings to Olive’s slightly misogynistic fiancée, but in a few brilliantly staged scenes involving Bill and Elizabeth’s newly created lie detector, the truth comes out: Bill, Elizabeth, and Olive are all in love with each other.
Director Angela Robinson knows that the real excitement in this story comes from the polyamorous relationship, so she wastes no time in bringing it together. The early scenes of the threesome working out their emotions and desires are filled with tension, and leave the audience rooting for them reach the inevitable. The sequence in which they consummate their relationship is breathtaking in more ways than one. Robinson keeps the camera tight on each character during this moment, letting their emotions play out for the audience to see.
Luke Evans in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Photo Credit: Annapurna Pictures.
Conflicts still arise even after the trio becomes official, but for a time they take a backseat as a famed superhero begins to take shape. It’s obvious that Elizabeth and Olive are the women who inspired Wonder Woman, but it is still fun to see the parallels. Olive wears thick bracelets on each wrist, similar to Diana’s gauntlets, a trip to a sex shop leads to Olive being dressed in an outfit reminiscent of Wonder Woman’s costume, and Elizabeth ties her up with a rope like the Lasso of Truth—yes, they’re into bondage. As the image of Wonder Woman forms in Bill’s head, it takes shape in the audience’s minds too.
It’s a beautiful and inspirational story, but it’s not without its issues. While Elizabeth’s dynamics with her two lovers are developed and explored well, the relationship between Olive and Bill is lacking. This is strange, considering how his attraction to her is what began the whole thing. They deserved more scenes, just the two of them. In addition to that, Elizabeth’s actions can be frustrating, as she is often the obstacle in the way of the trio being together. Her feelings on things seem to change during the course of a scene, and she sometimes comes across as being indecisive.
Rebecca Hall in Professor Marston and the Wonder Women. Photo Credit: Annapurna Pictures.
Still, it is impossible to deny that Elizabeth and Olive make for two fascinating and complex female characters. Actresses Hall and Heathcote shine here, with Hall moving between fierce and vulnerable with ease and Heathcote showing there is more to Olive than her innocent exterior suggests. Evans completes the talented threesome, playing up the charisma well. There is real chemistry between them all, which makes their relationship more believable.
This fascinating story is sure to wow audiences, just like Wonder Woman did back in June. It will probably also leave them with a hunger for more amazing female characters like Elizabeth and Olive, which isn’t a bad thing. After all, the world could use more wonder women.
Overall Grade: B+
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