Posts Tagged ‘Luke Evans’

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women Trailer: A Tad Salacious, A Lot Inaccurate

July 19, 2017

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The first full trailer for Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, a film about the lives of the creator of Wonder Woman and his two partners Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne, premiered yesterday, and I’ve got some mixed feelings about it. I’m excited for the film; the Marstons are fascinating, and their lives and beliefs led to the creation of Wonder Woman. Plus the movie’s got a fantastic writer/director in Angela Robinson, as well as a stellar cast. I mean, Connie Britton is playing Josette Frank and Oliver Platt is Max Gaines. If you’re a Golden Age comic book history nerd like I am, that’s just amazing.

This trailer, however, left me a little bit underwhelmed and somewhat concerned:

It’s entertaining in and of itself, I suppose. It’s sexy and mysterious and intriguing, and it looks like a compelling story. My problem is that it doesn’t seem to be a very accurate story. There are some changes I can understand, like having Josette Frank grill Luke Evan’s Marston in person. In reality, their contact was mainly through letters. As part of her role on DC’s advisory board, Frank sent letters to Marston’s publisher objecting to Wonder Woman‘s bondage imagery, which Gaines then relayed to Marston, whose messages back to Gaines were then relayed to Frank. None of that would make for a interesting film, really, so it makes sense to put them in the same room for a tense standoff. It’s far more dramatic that way.

My larger issue is with the depiction of the Marston family, and the liberties the film seems to be taking with them. They were an unconventional family; they lived together in a polyamorous relationship, and Marston had two children with each woman. The problem is that beyond this, we really don’t know much about how their relationship worked. Elizabeth had a day job and Olive stayed home with the kids, and they both had a considerable influence on the creation of Wonder Woman. Other than that, details are few. They were a very private family, and most of what’s been written about their personal lives beyond those broad strokes is questionable research and guesswork.

Take, for example, the bondage issue. Marston’s Wonder Woman comics were FULL of bondage. I wrote a book about it; the imagery is considerable, and while it’s there for a specific purpose that ties into Marston’s psychological theories, it wasn’t without its problematic aspects. So yes, Marston’s use of bondage is a historical fact, and I think it’s fair to suggest that there was a fetishistic aspect to it. He basically said so in his own correspondence. However, we have no proof that the Marstons were into bondage activities in their private lives. They could have been, but suggesting they were is pure speculation without any facts to back it up. Marston seeming to have a kink does not mean that he explored it with his wives.

This trailer appears to suggest otherwise, with Bella Heathcote’s Olive Byrne getting tied into a leather corset and the trailer clearly conflating the bondage imagery in the comics with the Marstons’ personal lives. But suggesting that the Marstons were into bondage is pure conjecture. Now, I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with bondage, or that suggesting that the Marstons were into it besmirches them in some way. It doesn’t. There’s just no real evidence for it.

The same can be said about the relationship between Elizabeth and Olive. We know they were both with Marston, and that they lived together for decades after his death, but the exact nature of their relationship with each other is ill-defined. It may have been romantic. It may have been sexual. It may have been companionate. Again, we just do not know. But like with the bondage aspect, the film seems to be putting them together in a sexual way that’s just not historically provable.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Woman looks like it’s taking theories about the Marstons’ relationship that are maybes at best and presenting it as fact. It’s leaning into salacious speculation rather than what we definitively do know about the Marstons, which is fascinating material on its own. The Marstons are unique and interesting without these elements, and the movie playing fast and loose with history makes me worry that the filmmakers may not fully understand what is compelling about their subjects.

At the same time, this is only a trailer. And making it eye-catching is just smart marketing. There’s always a bit of embellishment and sensationalizing with biopics, and I understand that. I remain curious to see what the movie actually says about the Marstons, and it would be nice to see it try to stay true to established facts. We’ll find out this October, and I’m hoping for the best.

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New York Comic-Con Wonder Woman News Extravaganza: New Comics, Toys, Movies!

October 11, 2016

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This post is as much for me as it is for you, reader friends. New York Comic-Con was this weekend, and with it came lots of fun news, announcements, and reveals, nearly all of which I missed. My sister got married this weekend (congrats to Kate and Tom!), and I was all wrapped up in that. It was certainly a better way to spend the long weekend than scanning the internet for cool NYCC news, but now the week has officially begun and it’s time for me to dig in and catch up. So here’s a look at what Wonder Woman news came out of the convention this weekend!

First up, let’s chat about Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, an upcoming biopic about Wonder Woman’s creator William Moulton Marston and the women who played key roles in his life. Angela Robinson will write and direct the movie, with Luke Evans starring as Marston, Rebecca Hall playing his wife, Elizabeth, and Bella Heathcote joining them as Olive Byrne, the final member of the Marstons’ polyamorous triangle. This could be an absolutely fascinating film; Marston’s life was interesting and unusual, to say the least, and it has all of the makings of a great story. I’m curious to see how much DC gets on board and what sort of Wonder Woman stuff they’ll be allowed to use, but even just the story of their lives leading up to the creation of Wonder Woman is quite a compelling tale. It’s good to see the women behind Wonder Woman getting recognized from the get-go as well, rather than shining the spotlight on Marston alone. I’m very excited to see how this one turns out!

In other film news, Warner Bros. Animation might have another Wonder Woman cartoon film in development. It doesn’t seem to be official yet, since the quote was, “they have Wonder Woman on their radar in some form or fashion,” but that’s better than no Wonder Woman at all. There were no details on whether this would be a sequel to the 2009 direct-to-DVD film Wonder Woman or something completely new, but things might be happening on the animation front.

We’ll stick with movies for one more bit of news: DC Collectibles revealed a line of statues for the upcoming live action Wonder Woman film, and they all look quite lovely. Here’s Wonder Woman on a horse:

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And you can click through the link to see a couple more. They’re very nice but also pricey, ranging from $150-300 USD. Expect them out in the ballpark of June 2017, when the movie is due to hit the big screen.

Moving to comics, we’ve got a rad crossover on the way with Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77, a comic book teaming of Adam West and Burt Ward’s Batman and Robin with Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman. Marc Andreyko and Jeff Parker are writing, with art from David Hahn and Karl Kesel and covers by Alex Ross and Mike Allred. Check out this peek at Alex Ross’ first cover:

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The six issue mini-series will premiere digitally in November and then hit comic shops in print form in January. It looks like the chief villains will be Ra’s al Ghul and Catwoman, which should make for a lot of fun.

This next news broke a bit before NYCC, but it’s too awesome to leave out: We’re getting DC Super Hero Girls Lego! Here’s a look at the Wonder Woman set, which includes an invisible motorcycle:

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Other sets include Batgirl, Bumblebee, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, Supergirl, and more. Some will hit stores in December, with more to roll out down the line; Wonder Woman is in the second wave, due to come out in January. The sets are in the style of Lego’s “Friends” line, which they target at girls, and while I do miss the blocky classic Lego look on the minifigs, it does match a bit better with the style of the show. I’m definitely going to need to pick up a few of these sets, the Wonder Woman one first and foremost.

Finally, the U.S. Postal Service officially debuted their new line of Wonder Woman stamps that celebrate the character’s 75th anniversary:

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Artists Cliff Chiang and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez were on hand for the event, and the stamps are now available to order online or in your local post office if you’re an American. I actually got to work behind the scenes a little bit on the stamps, consulting on the text that accompanies them in the packaging to verify that everything was historically accurate. It was a very fun process, and it’s so cool that they’re officially out in the world now!

I think that was all of the big news this weekend, but let me in the comments if I missed anything cool. Overall, it was a big NYCC for Wonder Woman, and there should be a lot of fun stuff on the horizon for Wonder Woman fans and collectors.

The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug Review OR The Mirkwood Elves Steal The Show

December 14, 2013

tauriel

Let me start by saying that I think turning The Hobbit into a Lord of the Rings-esque epic trilogy is just not a good idea.  It’s such a smaller story that no matter how much they try to make it bigger and more important, it’s going to end up as the poor man’s Lord of the Rings instead of its own, unique thing.  I’ve seen two thirds of the adaptation now, and this was the wrong way to go.  However good they make them, and I’ve liked them so far, they suffer by comparison.

That being said, I really enjoyed The Desolation of Smaug.  They avoided most of the stuff I didn’t like in An Unexpected Journey (there were no musical numbers in this one), and evened out the tone and pace.  Plus, Mirkwood elves!  They were just perfect.

One of the strongest choices in The Hobbit remains the hobbit himself, Martin Freeman as Bilbo.  He was a brilliant casting choice, and he’s even more entertaining here as he comes into his own as a burglar.  There’s a new confidence to Bilbo, mostly due to the fact that he’s got the ring in his front pocket whenever he needs it, and it’s a lot of fun to watch him save his friends and face off against a dragon.

Speaking of dragons, Smaug is pretty freaking cool.  The CGI is great, Benedict Cumberbatch’s voice is sinister and regal, and he lives up to the five hours of buildup waiting to see him for the first time.  The fight in Erebor goes on for far too long and is sort of ridiculous, but Smaug looks awesome through it all.  I can’t even imagine the thousands of man hours that went into rendering him, and they absolutely nailed it.

The best part of the movie, though, were the elves.  Lee Pace as Thranduil was just spectacular.  I love him already because he’s Ned the pie maker from Pushing Daisies, but Ned was all warm and endearing while Thranduil is a straight up jerk.  Pace pulls it off so well; those eyebrows were made for playing an elf king.  He completely captures Thranduil’s cold disdain for the rest of the world, and the way he carries himself and uses his body to communicate the king’s insouciance and self-importance is just spot on.

And Tauriel!  Both Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are sorely lacking in female characters, and while I’m usually not keen on adaptations adding things to the story, The Hobbit needed a Tauriel.  Her character fit into the story really well, and she was a nice counter to the rest of the Mirkwood elves.  Evangeline Lilly was a great choice for the role, and while she was totally bad ass and fantastic in the fight scenes, she brought a real warmth to the character.  Her relationship with Kili was cute and a fun twist; I thought they might do an annoying, angsty sort of thing with her and Legolas, and while there was a smidgen of that the real romance was her and Kili.  And man, she can kill orcs.  She was taking them down like crazy.

Legolas was fine, but Thranduil and Tauriel stole all the elf thunder.

A few quick thoughts on the rest of the film:

  • Beorn got sort of short changed.  I haven’t read the book in a while, but I remember him having a bigger part than he did in the movie.  Or maybe they added so much to the movie that an accurate depiction of his part just felt small.
  • That spider fight scene was really cool.
  • As was the barrel on the river scene, especially Bombur bouncing around and taking out tons of orcs.  That got big laughs in my theater.
  • I also dug the ringwraith tombs; that was super creepy.
  • I really enjoyed Luke Evans as Bard.  They beefed up the Laketown stuff a lot (again, a bit too much), and I liked what they did with someone who was just sort of there in the book.  They fleshed him out a lot, and it worked for me.
  • The Dol Guldur stuff was okay, but superfluous.
  • Plus it’s an example of my biggest pet peeve in these movies: reusing stuff from Lord of the Rings.  Gandalf gets captured by a bad guy using evil magic, a hobbit gets stabbed with a Morgul weapon and is saved by kingsfoil and a pretty lady elf, Legolas shoots a lot of arrows very quickly, a short person is obsessed with an item that has the potential to corrupt them and drive them insane.  We’ve seen all of these things before.  It was less ridiculous than in the first movie, but they still went there too many times.
  • Lord of the Rings was so much better at geography than these Hobbit movies are.  You always had a sense of where you were, and while each place felt distinct you could see in your head how the whole world tied together.  I don’t have that with these movies.  It doesn’t feel like a cohesive world where I understand how one place leads to the next, it feels like a bunch of disparate locales.
  • SPOILER: I was surprised that the movie ended when it did on account of Chekhov’s big long metal arrow.  With all that talk and setup for how to kill Smaug, I thought that’s how the movie would end, with Bard saving the city.  But I guess that’ll start the next one.

Overall, I thought that The Desolation of Smaug was a big step up from the first movie, and I liked it a lot.  I still think they’re going about it all the wrong way, but I’m never going to say no to more Middle Earth from Peter Jackson.  Solid casting and a lot of strong moments and action scenes go a long way to make up for a flawed structure.  I’m now very excited for the finale, way more than I was for this one after an only okay first film.


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