The movie Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is not the story that you would think. Yes, the story is about how William Marston (Luke Evans) created the character of Wonder Woman for DC Comics in 1941. I would say, however, that the story of Wonder Woman is more of a sub-plot. The main plot, in my opinion, is more about the characteristics that make up Wonder Woman. Sure, you’re probably thinking – that’s the same thing, but indulge me for a moment. Anyone can string some words and ideas together and decide to create a character. The story is told by Angela Robinson is unconventional. And it’s through that venue that we get this character of Wonder Woman. A character that is as beautiful as she is fierce. A character that is both male and female. Not necessarily in a gendered sense, but in how we view her.
The story takes us along the ride for Marston’s career. He and his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) are both psychologists. Together, they developed the lie detector. The unconventional part of their story comes in the form of their research assistant, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). The three develop a relationship that can only be described as polyamorous. Being in a polyamorous relationship is somewhat scandalous by today’s standards, I can only imagine what it was like for them in the 1920s.
The real story is the relationship between Elizabeth and Olive. Not because of the same sex nature of their relationship, but because you can really see the fire between them. Marston loved both women and took characteristics from each to form Wonder Woman. Elizabeth is somewhat neurotic, brutally blunt and frustrated by her situation as a woman in the 1920s. The movie starts with us seeing undertones of a flirtation between Marston and Olive. Elizabeth stakes her claim in her husband, which sends Olive out of the room, crying. But the storyline evolves to where we can see Olive developing a deeper infatuation with Elizabeth. Olive, on the other hand, is more nurturing, quiet and extremely beautiful.
The entire story is one driven by sex. Which is likely to be unappealing to many. I suspect that even some in the theatre wasn’t prepared for this particular aspect of the story. As I said, it’s less about the comic book character and more about how she came to be. Marston describes each woman in a completely different way. And it’s through these descriptions that help you to see their strengths. He takes those differences and combines them into one woman – Wonder Woman.
What will be appealing to the comic book fans out there, is how Robinson builds the visual reveal. From wearing the large bracelets to holding a lasso given to her by Elizabeth, it helps to paint a picture for us all so that we understand the story as well. But like I said, this is more of an underlying theme to understanding the women in Marsten’s life. Their dynamic is hard to understand for many who view traditional love in a monogamous way. But if you can see through that, what we are presented with is a truly unique love story that was decades ahead of its time.