Film about the origin of the Wonder Woman comic is stranger than fiction
PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN (Angela Robinson). 108 minutes. Opens Friday (October 13). See listing. Rating: NNNN
The story of Wonder Woman’s creation is, perhaps, stranger and weirder than the character’s own origin.
Princess Diana is merely an Amazonian superhero raised on a secluded island of women and sent to Man’s World to punch Nazis William Moulton Marston was an academic psychotherapist (and inventor of the lie detector) who imagined the character as a combination of the two strongest women he knew: his wife, Elizabeth, and their partner, Olive Byrne, with whom they shared a home and a relationship for more than a decade. And Diana’s predilection for shaming her female foes and the occasional bondage situation came from their own flirtations with BDSM.
Writer/director Angela Robinson tells their story straight in Professor Marston And The Wonder Women, without a hint of the winking foreshadowing that defines most modern biopics. That means Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall and Bella Heathcote get to play complex, credible human beings struck by unexpected attraction, rather than cartoonish horndogs.
It’s a risk, but it pays off in a genuinely moving story with great performances from all three leads, especially Hall. She makes sure we understand every facet of Elizabeth’s frustration at being an intelligent, progressive woman in that other Man’s World – you know, 20th-century America.