Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

With all the Superhero blockbusters, it is easy to overlook the origin of origin stories. The 2017 movie Professor Marston and the Wonder Women came out without much fanfare. Unlike its protagonists. This biopic features the author of the Wonder Woman novels who also happened to be the co-inventor of the lie detector. The psychologist (yes, Professor Marston) had an unconventional philosophy and (consequently?) personal life. This alone makes the movie worth watching. But did you ever get some lesbian BDSM vibes from Wonder Woman herself? Well, this movie explains why. So: philosophy, LGBTQIA+, BDSM and a female superhero. Awesome, right?

The story of Professor Marston

Professor Marston has developed a theory (called DISC). This theory comes down to the idea that unless people learn to find pleasure in their submission to authority, they will always be unhappy. This idea he also brings with him to the classroom at an all-girls college where he and his wife teach philosophy. Interestingly, in addition to writing his theories and teaching, Bill and his wife Elizabeth find plenty of time to invent the lie detector. Which leads me to wonder whether these people ever slept.

But in this movie the fun really starts when the Marstons find a new student in their class. Olive Byrne immediately catches Bill’s eye, like she catches the eye of every man in the area. When Olive starts working as an assistant for the couple, this leads to tensions and frustrations. Not in the least because whilst they are testing out the waters and trying to figure out who has feelings for whom, they are simultaneously trying out the lie detector on each other. Luckily, these issues all get resolved when everyone realizes they are all in love with eachother and would be happier in a triad.

And now for the kinky bits

At some point professor Marston happens to wander into a “burlesque” store, which sells sexy outfits. He is drawn to the costume of an amazon, as he likes powerful women, and finds a nice collection of BDSM post cards.

Professor Marston's kinky post cards

This gets him extremely excited, as he has now found an entire subculture that centers around the idea that submission can be pleasurable. He feels that his DISC theory here is put into practice. Along with Elizabeth and Olive, he participates in a bondage workshop at the store. Oh, the things we do for science! When he sees Elizabeth tie up Olive (who is dressed in the amazon costume) he starts to develop the idea for Diana, or Wonder Woman.

This powerful amazon was surrounded by only women on a lost island until a US soldier washed up on the shore. Diana then goes to the United States, where she starts working as a secretary. Meanwhile, she does good deeds armed with a lasso that forces people to speak the truth. Which is obviously related to the Marstons’ invention of the lie detector. But more interestingly feels like a nod to the intimacy of a bondage scene. Because, of course, that is what Diana uses it for mostly, as we will see.

Kinky Wonder Women

As this movie makes clear, Professor Marston started the Wonder Woman comics so he could communicate his theory directly to the masses. Consequently, submission necessarily had to play a huge role in these novels. He wanted to teach young children that submission can be pleasurable. This way, they wouldn’t have to struggle against authority (parents, the state, your husband) all their lives. And so yes, the original Wonder Woman was basically a BDSM dream.

Now, by focussing on the kink elements I have skipped over the majority of the many layers in this movie. All three actors are great, and the film is an emotional rollercoaster. Because in the 1930s, people did not really appreciate it if you are in a triad. Especially not when you raise four kids. In the suburbs. Whilst practicing BDSM. (Seriously, pro tip: lock the doors and close the curtains when you play).

The movie itself only features some light bondage. But the discussion of submission in culture is fascinating. So is Wonder Woman’s origin as an example of that theory. And if you would like to see more polyamorous or lesbian relationships on screen, this is the film for you. Or if you like super heroes. Well, I would basically recommend this film to anyone. So, I’ll give you one last wonder woman frame to leave you with. All I ask in exchange is that if you find affordable copies of the original Wonder Woman comics, please let me know?

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