The Golden Age of superhero comics can largely be attributed to two factors. The 1930s saw the Great Depression take hold of America lives, leading many to yearn for an escape from the drudgery and hardship of everyday life. The Nazis invasion of Poland in 1939 and America’s entrance into World War II in 1941 gave comic book writers, and fans, a perfect bad guy. Inspired by the feminist movement and the women in his life, a psychology professor William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is the story of his life, but more accurately an origin story for the creation of such a popular figure.
William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) and his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) teach and work on their research at Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges. William employs Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), one of his students, to help them with their research and work on DISC Theory and creating a lie detector. Unbeknownst to them, and despite being raised in a convent, she’s the daughter and niece of two famous feminists (Ethel Byrne and Margaret Sanger respectively). The trio enter into a polyamorous relationship, with both women inspiring him to create Wonder Woman.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a beautifully executed and deftly acted drama. Given much of the subject matter, there must have been the temptation to titillate, but director Angela Robinson imbues the film with sensuality without the need for exploitation. After the success of Gal Gadot and Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman last year, it’s a fascinating insight into the history behind the character. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a drama set around a period, a lifestyle and three remarkable people.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is available on digital download now and released on DVD by Sony Pictures on 19 March.