Professor Marston and the Wonder Women

Based on a rather unusual true story, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women follows the personal life of the creator of comic book character Wonder Woman and his unorthodox relationship with his wife and lover who would  provide inspiration for his famous superhero. We first meet Dr. William Moulton Marston, played by Luke Evans who has appeared in several Fast and Furious movies and the 2016 live action remake of Beauty and the Beast, in 1947 as he is testifying to the Child Study Association of America who is concerned that Wonder Woman is exposing children to lesbianism and sadomasochism. The testimony is used as a reference to the many flashbacks that make up most of the film. In 1928, Marston and his brilliant wife Elizabeth, played by Rebecca Hall, are both professors of psychology at Harvard and Harvard’s all-female college Radcliffe who develop theories to understand human behavior. Marston is particularly struck by the beauty and intelligence of one of his students named Olive Byrne, played by Bella Heathcote, and recruits her to assist in the Marstons’ research. After they use their research to invent the lie detector test, Marston and his wife Elizabeth as well as Olive must grapple with the fact that they all three love each other. Due to the conservative values of the time, they must hide their polyamorous and highly sexualized relationship but, eventually, the rumors about the Marstons’ love life gets them fired from Harvard and Radcliffe. All three of them move to suburban New York where they raise Elizabeth’s and Olive’s kids with Marston while trying to make ends meet with Elizabeth as a secretary and Marston as an out-of-work psychologist. Inspired by their free love and penchant for sadomasochism with the underlying assumption of empowering women, Marston comes up with the idea of a comic book character sharing these attributes and calls her Wonder Woman. Over time, his work that also furthers his psychological theories is published under the pseudonym Charles Moulton by Max Gaines, played by Oliver Platt, who discovered Superman and would later become part of DC Comics. Marston tries to balance his increasingly complicated domestic life with the great success he enjoys with the creation of Wonder Woman. The revelation of their peculiar secret poses a real threat to their family staying together and his career as the creator of Wonder Woman. Overall, I found it to be a well-crafted film that provides unique and sometimes surprising insight into the origins of such a famous superhero as Wonder Woman, and it presents an unvarnished look into the largely unknown and often taboo issues surrounding polyamorous relationships. The excellent acting skills of the three protagonists help to enliven the truly fascinating story and lends the movie a sense of realism.

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