When we look back on 2017, I think it’s safe to say that many will see it as the year that Wonder Woman shined and the year that the “mic drop” officially became overused.
There’s no doubt about it. This has been a damn good year for Wonder Woman. Her movie was a hit with critics and fans alike. Her comic raised the bar for female heroes while also letting her get laid. She’s on a winning streak right now that we don’t usually see unless the New York Yankees and the New England Patriots are involved.
However, 2017 isn’t done with Wonder Woman just yet. It’s not enough that her movie may have single-handedly saved the DC Extended Universe, established Gal Gadot as an A-list actress with A-list sex appeal, and raised the bar for female directors like Patty Jenkins. Wonder Woman, being the iconic female hero that she is, just has to go the extra distance.
That brings me back to the man who created this sexy female icon, William Marston. In a sense, Wonder Woman is one of those characters that could never have emerged from a traditional mind looking to create a traditional hero. For her to become the icon she is now, she needed an unconventional mind and William Marston was definitely that.
I’ve talked a bit about the origins of Wonder Woman and the not-so-secret BDSM elements within that origin. A lot of that is a direct result of the non-traditional thinking that William Marston used in creating Wonder Woman. It was also the product of a very non-traditional life, some of which had some very kinky connotations.
The story behind that kinky life is now about to get some overdue attention and at the best possible time. Wonder Woman’s star couldn’t be flying higher. Why shouldn’t the man behind the sexy icon get a little attention? It’s 2017. Kink is already mainstream, thanks to internet porn and best selling novels based on Twilight fan fiction. The timing couldn’t be better.
That leads me to the upcoming quasi-biopic on William Marston, “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women.” Admit it. You probably didn’t know that a movie like this was being made. Even ardent Wonder Woman fans probably didn’t know.
It’s happening, though. This is not some weird fan film or parody to poke fun at Wonder Woman’s BDSM origins. This is a real movie starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, and JJ Feild. It’s even being directed by a woman, Angela Robinson, who was a writer/producer on the sexy bloody spectacle that was “True Blood.” This movie is coming out later this year and last week, the trailer dropped.
It’s a very different trailer compared to “Wonder Woman.” It’s supposed to be different. It might not have as many warrior women. It might not have a naked Chris Pine. However, it does have some sexy, but kinky connotations.
Unlike Stan Lee, Bob Kane, or Jack Kirby, who are icons in their own right for the characters they created, William Marston kind of gets forgotten. Granted, he didn’t create nearly as many iconic characters as Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. However, it was his non-traditional views and the non-traditional life he lived that might have made it easier for people to dissociate the man from his creation.
As the trailer shows, Marston was an unusual voice at a time in history before the modern feminist movement and before the sexual revolution. He believed in peace through submission, seeing submission as an act of love. He also believed that women were more honest than men in certain situations. He never said they were superior, but he made it a point to highlight female strengths, as often revealed in Wonder Woman.
On top of those unusually progressive views at a time when women were still seen as nurses, teachers, and baby-makers, Marston had a non-traditional view of love. He was married to Elizabeth Holloway Marston, but theirs was a somewhat open marriage in that he also had a relationship with a woman named Olive Byrne.
It was not at all akin to the kinds of open relationships that make for raunchy TV shows about Mormons or the kinky softcore porn series that used to play on premium cable. It was a real relationship and, as the trailer showed, it was very different in terms of substance and approach. In a sense, you can say that Marston had a non-traditional relationship to match his non-traditional views.
Even today, his views on men, women, and the ways they relate to one another would be odd. Chances are, he would evoke protests from the overly politically correct crowd. That probably wouldn’t dissuade him, though. If anything, those protests would prove a part of the point he was trying to make, which was reflected somewhat in the trailer.
He claimed that there was peace and happiness to be found in submission. To the ardent individualist, which is very much at the heart of western culture, that sounds abhorrent. That sounds like something slave-masters would say to keep their slaves content, which was a thing, sadly. However, that’s not the kind of submission Marston was talking about.
In Marston’s kinky world, to submit to someone willingly is an act of love and to accept that submission with love is the apex of human connection. He sees the endless struggle to dominate everything around you, be it a person, a job, a pet, or World of Warcraft, as the source of conflict.
He also labels that kind of dominating persona as a very masculine trait. While it’s not exclusively masculine, he sees it as a common thread among male-driven narratives. Conversely, he sees women as having a greater capacity for that kind of loving submission. Wonder Woman is, in his point of view, embodies the greatest capacity for that kind of love.
Wonder Woman loves and embraces everyone around her. Her capacity for love, regardless of gender, is well-documented over her 70-year history. Sure, the kink has been largely filtered out with a few notable exceptions, namely “Wonder Woman: Earth One.” That only makes the elements Marston used in creating her all the more profound.
In some ways, William Marston was ahead of his time in creating a female hero that emphasized what he saw as female traits. He never tried to make Wonder Woman as strong or as capable in the same way as Superman or Batman. She wasn’t supposed to prove that women could be as strong as men. Just being a woman gave her a unique strength all her own.
You could also say he was ahead of his time, with respect to how he conducted his personal life. He didn’t bother with the ideal of monogamy, one man and one woman being in love until the day they died. He and the two women in his life forged their own brand of love and family. They followed their own romantic path.
They never claimed their non-traditional brand of love made them superior. That would’ve defeated the point. In Marston’s kinky world, any effort to dominate others through force, shame, or debate was pointless. In the end, the best way to bring peace is to conduct yourself in a way that makes others want to submit to your loving authority.
That’s not just my interpretation. When he was once asked by The American Scholar in 1943 about why Wonder Woman would appeal to men, he said this.
“Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to, and they’ll be proud to become her willing slaves!”
As a comic book fan, a fan of beautiful women, and a fan of female strength in general, I whole-heartedly agree. The success of the “Wonder Woman” movie, over 70 years of comics, and a top place in the pantheon of iconic female heroes says a lot about our willingness to submit. Perhaps “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women” will help us appreciate that even more.