At the latest since the very successful blockbuster Wonder Woman, the world’s greatest heroine is very popular again. Now, a superhero origin tale shows us the true story of her spiritual father: PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMAN.
Professor Marston and The Wonder Women is the incredible true story of what inspired Harvard psychologist and inventor Dr. William Moulton Marston to create the iconic feminist superhero Wonder Woman.
Professor Marston had to fight for his rights like the character that he had created. Besides fictional enemies, Wonder Woman was also in struggle against radical views. Some extreme groups of feminists classified the comic as sexist.
Furthermore, with his book “The Seduction of the Innocent”, Frederic Wertham declared Wonder Woman as lesbian. He claimed the termination of production of the comic.
However, Wonder Woman was and still is the first female superhero, and the first high-profile media representative of a strong, confident, and self-certain image of women. Thus, she could be considered as an idol for a positive way of women’s movement.
Her maker had also to handle many fights. While Professor Marston’s groundbreaking character was pilloried by censors for its sexual frankness, he was living a secret life that was equally controversial.
Marston’s inspiration for Wonder Woman were his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston. Additionally, their mutual lover Olive Byrne was a source of inspiration. Both were self-empowered women who defied social conventions while they helped Marston advance his prescient behavioral research.
PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMAN
If behind every great man there is a great woman, Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) had the good fortunate to have two: his wife Elizabeth Marston (Rebecca Hall) and their mutual lover Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote).
In addition to helping him perfect the lie detector test, the women in Marston’s life aided him in his forward-thinking human research studies and inspired him to create the feminist superhero, Wonder Woman, a barrier- breaking, iconoclastic heroine, beloved by millions for the past eight decades. According to writer/director
Angela Robinson, Marston’s life is the story of “three unlikely rebels who dared not only to love each other but form a family together.
The story shows how their collective experience led to the creation of Wonder Woman, one of the most enduring feminist icons of all time.”
But there was a price to pay for the Marston’s family’s unconventional ideas. Professor Marston and his wife Elizabeth were banished from academia, financially hobbling their research and compromising their economic livelihood.
In spite of these problems, the family persevered and Elizabeth and Olive’s defiance and courage in the face of adversity moved the Professor to create his dream woman, the first comic book superhero Wonder Woman, a phenomenon as well as a lightning rod for the censors.
Like most individuals born ahead of their time, Marston and his wonder women are a testament to survival against the dark undercurrents of repression that continue to plague society to this day.
STRANGER THAN FICTION
Almost a decade ago, writer/director Angela Robinson (True Blood, The L Word), was leafing through a coffee table book about Wonder Woman, of whom she was a lifelong fan, when she came across some startling facts about the origins of the comic book superhero. “There was one section that blew my mind,” she recalls.
THE LASSO OF TRUTH
The chapter centered on the superhero’s creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, who was also responsible for the lie detector test. Marston invented the systolic blood pressure test, which he then combined with the polygraph, after his wife, Elizabeth suggested a connection between emotion and blood pressure.
Therefore, besides all fiction, the comics reflect a part of Professor Marston’s real life. Above all, the Lasso of Truth, which is a fanciful version of the lie detector test.
EROTIC & BONDAGE
Also contained in the chapter of the book that Angela Robinson has inspired, was a discussion of the sexual bondage controversy. This dispute surrounded the Wonder Woman comics in its early days and Marston’s polyamorous relationship with Elizabeth and one of his college students, Olive Byrne.
The information was bare bones, but after some careful sleuthing, Robinson unearthed a trove of equally fascinating information.
Robinson read Marston’s treatise “Emotions of Normal People,” in which he propounded his “DISC theory”. It stated that all human interaction is broken down into four behaviors: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance.
She also discovered that the character of Wonder Woman, which debuted in the early 1940s, was created as psychological propaganda.
“Marston believed that women were the superior sex and they should be running the world,” Robinson notes. “When I shared all this information with my friends, they all said, ‘you should write this as a movie.’”
Her initial impulse was to create a Marston biopic. “But the more I learned about Elizabeth and Olive, the more I realized that I couldn’t understand him without understanding the role they’d played in his life.”
In particular, she was fascinated that Elizabeth and Olive (by whom Marston had two children each), continued to live together. They did so for thirty-eight years after his death. During these years, a bond of affection and commitment characterized their connection to Marston.
“Elizabeth even named one of her daughters after Olive,” Robinson mentions. “This wasn’t the story of a wife and a mistress living together. What I was looking at was a love story between three people.”
In writing about a polyamorous relationship, Robinson contends, changing point of view became an essential element. “Viewing the relationship from multiple perspectives was crucial in order for us to understand why the three of them stayed together.”
THE CHARACTERS – REBECCA HALL (ELIZABETH MARSTON)
Rebecca Hall is a British-American actress. Her career encompasses the multiplex, the art house cinema and the world’s most respected theaters.
She has worked with many of the industry’s greatest artists, establishing herself as a leading talent as she challenges herself with each new role.
Apart from the historical aspects, says Rebecca Hall, Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman is very entertaining. “It’s going to make you really laugh and cry. It has a richness of feeling that I think people crave when they go out to the movies.”
Bella Heathcote (Olive Byrne)
Bella Heathcote is an Australian actress who won the “Australians in Film/Heath Ledger Scholarship Award” in 2010. The Hollywood Film Awards honored her with the “Spotlight Award”.
Furthermore, Variety highlighted her in its “10 Actors to Watch” issue in 2012.
About Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman, says Bella Heathcote, the film is relatable to contemporary audiences. “It’s a story about people trying to figure out who they are and what their place is, and who can’t relate to that?
It’s also a beautiful love story and you watch these people grow and change over time.
You see them struggle with their relationships and careers and their sense of self and emerge better at the end of it. I think audiences will be very satisfied with that journey.”
Luke Evans (William Moulton Marston)
In just a little over a decade, Welsh actor Luke Evans has made an immediate impression in Hollywood. He made his mark as a leading man across all genres. Evans began his career doing theater in London’s West End. Most recently he starred as ‘Gaston’ in Disney’s highly successful, live-action adaptation of the animated classic, Beauty and the Beast.
Directed by Academy Award winner Bill Condon, the film has grossed over $1.2 million in the worldwide box office.
For Luke Evans, Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman tells the origin story with depth and resonance.
“It’s the perfect moment to tell the story of how Wonder Woman came to be. You see, there’s a reason that Wonder Woman has withstood the test of time.
She represents female strength and the power women can have. She’s different from Superman or Batman. Wonder Woman possesses attributes and energies and techniques that men fail at, miserably so. She doesn’t use her super powers to defeat. She uses them to make people tell the truth.”
VOICES ABOUT PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMAN
As for the Wonder Woman origin aspects of Professor Marston & the Wonder Woman, “I think people are going to see Wonder Woman in a completely different light after they’ve seen this movie,” says producer Amy Redford.
“They’re going to be amazed at how this iconic character emerged from real life. And even if they have no particular attachment to Wonder Woman, they all have a family, a history, and a knowledge of the battles that women faced in the past, and even today.
There are so many different ways to experience this movie.” In conclusion, Robinson believes that Professor Marston and the Wonder Women has something of importance to impart to audiences. “It’s a powerful message about the nature of love and acceptance and having the courage to be who you are. Wonder Woman’s mission is to stop violence, to stop war and to stand for peace. That’s what I took away from the experience and I hope that’s what everyone takes away.”
Professor Marston & the Wonder Woman is an entertaining as well as profound film, that makes the audience laugh and cry. It allows a complete new view and understanding towards the most popular heroine.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman is far from being an action movie. Thus, it’s an emotional love story which deals with issues, which are harsh taboos until today. Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman is about freedom and the believe in true love to more than one person.
Furthermore, it’s also a story about the achievement of objectives and the courage to stand out from the crowd. Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman motivates to start again from the beginning. Furthermore, it provides the understanding to accept that you have to lose something before you can win your personal freedom.
The actors, perform brilliant. Above all, Rebecca Hall, who dominates the film with her amazing talent and natural radiance. Moreover, she moves perfectly between an intellectual academic and a rebellious as well as sexual open-minded freethinker.
Even the imagery of Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman is brilliant. Angela Robinson plays with emotions. Cold colors and lights accentuate Professor Marston’s defense of his work and life. Soft and colorfulness pictures as well as warm lights reflect the love and freedom of the three main characters.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Woman is a perfect movie for the upcoming November days.
Photos: ©Sony Pictures