The rather astonishing true story of the creation of the Wonder Woman character, this is certainly not your run-of-the-mill biopic. It's a sharply well-observed story of three intellectual people who choose to live a scandalously counterculture lifestyle in the 1920s, then come up with a comic book character who goes against all the rules. Frankly, they still seem radical today.
It opens at Harvard University in the mid-1920s, where Bill Marston (Luke Evans) and his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) are psychology professors who have just invented what will become the modern lie-detector. They have hired grad student Olive (Bella Heathcote) as an assistant and, after some blatant flirting, both Bill and Elizabeth fall for her, deciding to create a three-way relationship. As they work on the details of how they will live together, Bill conceives a comic book hero who will help preach a message of female empowerment, inspired by both Elizabeth and Olive. And he infuses the comics with sadomasochistic imagery to make his point. Publishers are shocked by this, but one (Oliver Platt) gives the new character a shot. And Wonder Woman outsells Superman.
The story is told in flashbacks as Bill defends his work in the mid-1940s to a representative of the Catholic decency league (Connie Britton), who of course hates the comics' feminist ideas and sexualised imagery. She has no idea about Bill's three-way relationship, or the fact that he fathered two children with each woman. Writer-director Angela Robinson (The L Word) uses this cross-cutting structure to develop some tension between Bill, Elizabeth and Olive that feels more cinematic than realistic. But the three actors keep the characters remarkably grounded, with a brainy and open-minded approach to their life together. Evans is superb in the central role, while Hall shines as the prickly Elizabeth, who wants to be liberal but can't control her jealous impulses. By comparison, Heathcote's Olive feels rather passive, even though she has moments of steely energy.
Continue reading: Professor Marston And The Wonder Women Review
While Wonder Woman remains one of the most important female heroines in the history of fiction, few realise the just under what circumstances the character came about. The comic was first created by Dr. William Moulton Marston in 1941 under the pen-name Charles Moulton. Not only was he pioneering comic book writer, he was also a Harvard psychologist and the inventor of the systolic blood pressure test which aided the development of the modern polygraph or lie detector test. But perhaps the most fascinating facet of his life was what went on behind closed doors. He was in the midst of a polyamorous relationship with his wife Elizabeth and a young former student named Olive Byrne; two women whose feminist ideals inspired Wonder Woman as we know her today. Though the initial stories were fraught with controversy, not many could imagine how important the character would become to young men and women everywhere.
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