Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)

247 Professor Marston & Wonder-Women

Few people know that Wonder Woman was created by the psychology professor who invented the lie detector. That’s one reason why Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) is an intriguing period bio-drama. The others concern why Harvard fired the professor and why Wonder Women is in the plural form.

Based on a true story set in 1940s America, William Marston (Luke Evans) is one of the pioneers of psychology. His wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) is a brilliant academic and a feisty feminist, and together they recruit Olive Plat (Bella Heathcote) to help in their research for a machine that can detect lies. The three-way sexual chemistry is immediate and explosive. When they begin their open menagé á trois, the conservative Harvard University dismisses them for immorality and they take menial jobs to survive. Wanting to become a fiction writer, William creates a fantasy animation based on the two women in his life. Adorned with symbols of female empowerment, it is an instant icon of the non-violent super-heroine he calls Wonder Woman. William becomes a successful cartoonist and Wonder Woman comics sweep America. However, in the pre-feminist age, moral crusaders persecute the trio for the lewd bondage imagery that allegedly is corrupting young minds.

This is a transgressive film in many ways. In addition to some beautifully rendered scenes of three-way sexual intimacy, it explores polyamorous relationships and the feminist psychology of bondage – radical ideas that challenge the conservative construction of heterosexuality. In the process of showing the trio exploring their emotional and sexual boundaries the viewer is drawn into reflecting upon their own. With same-sex marriage becoming today’s new normal, this film suggests that the evolution of human sexuality is far from over. It also explains that instead of being based on subversive psychology, Wonder Women is really a role model for peace-making, feminine agency, and sexual liberation.

The three principal actors perform seductively within typecast roles. Rebecca Hall depicts a powerful intellect and feminine sensitivity; Bella Heathcote portrays extraordinary beauty and strong determination; and Luke Evans, perhaps the envy of many male viewers, is a masculine intellectual and a genuine new-age feminist. The filming evokes the era with authenticity, the script is intelligent, and the iconography that led to the creation of Wonder Woman is assembled like scattered clues in a detective thriller. Similar to the film Mary Shelley (2017), the film also shows how great creative works are the embodiment of their author’s life experience. In this way, it is engaging, informative, and entertaining.


Director: Angela Robinson

Stars:  Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote