Sometimes the stars align in every which way for a movie. That seems to be the case with Professor Marston & the Wonder Women, a movie that tells the story of the man who created Wonder Woman and the very unconventional life that lead him to bring the comic book hero into existence. Director Angela Robinson has managed to craft a compelling biopic from this compelling real-life story, and one that comes at a time that seems all too perfect. Timing is helpful, but making a good movie is much more important and there’s no question that has been accomplished here as well.
Annapurna Pictures‘ Professor Marston and the Wonder Women tells the incredible true story of what inspired Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) to create the iconic Wonder Woman character in the 1940s. While Marston’s feminist superhero was criticized by censors for her “sexual perversity,” he was keeping a secret that could have destroyed him. Marston’s muses for the Wonder Woman character were his wife, Elizabeth Marston (Rebecca Hall) and their mutual, younger lover, Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote). These two very modern, progressive women defied convention, working with Marston on human behavior research while building a hidden life with him that, even by modern standards, would be considered unconventional. That defiance of convention threatened to destroy everything he created and they life they built for their family.
With the recent release of Wonder Woman, there is a newfound love for the superhero and she is at the forefront of pop culture right now. That makes the timing of this movie so impeccable. But don’t expect to see some fluffy story about a down on his luck writer who somehow manages to create the most influential female comic book character ever. This is a story of a very complicated, progressive relationship between three people that is sexual, funny, charming, poignant and truly daring in many ways. Yes, Wonder Woman does factor in, but not in the way many people might expect from a biopic about the character’s creator. However, that unexpected story is what makes Professor Marston and the Wonder Women really work and resonate.
There are things that viewers will see in this movie that challenge convention and, truthfully, may upset some. Especially some of those who hold more traditional values that also love Wonder Woman. That said, this is also a very important story for the times we live in. Having a female director tell this particular story, which involves a husband and wife who invite a young woman into their relationship long term, a legitimate love triangle, truly gives this movie a voice that it needs. Much in the way that Patty Jenkins did with Wonder Woman. This biopic needed a woman’s touch.
As with any biopic, it rides or dies with the performances. Luke Evans has to walk a very unique tightrope as Dr. William Moulton Marston and he truly delivers. Evans is quite undervalued in Hollywood and this is one of his best performances to date. Rebecca Hall is also quite underrated and gets a chance to truly shine as Elizabeth Marston. She is strong, hilarious, sexy and captivating. Bella Heathcote also is in a truly interesting situation as Olive, who winds up as the corner of this love triangle and is the object of affection for the Marstons. If any of these core performances didn’t work, the movie would fall apart. The movie does not fall apart at any phase.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a truly solid biopic. It is also a great look into the compelling and surprisingly risque origin of Wonder Woman, which is a character that is the result of two progressive and strong women that were in a complicated relationship with the creator. This is an unexpected movie about a character many people love. At the end of the day, this is a very compelling story that was adapted beautifully for the big screen. It may shock some, but the way in which the story naturally challenges social norms and ideas is the real heart and soul of this movie. Professor Marston and the Wonder Women} is, to put it simply, wonderful.