Some viewers of ‘Wonder Woman’ were treated to a mysterious trailer, consisting mostly of dialogue with a final image of a woman in a golden and red unitard. What was it? It was actually a teaser for the upcoming indie biopic ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’, based on the life of the controversial creator of ‘Wonder Woman’.
William Moulton Marston created Wonder Woman for DC/National Comics in the early 1940s as a response to the hyper-masculine wave of superheroes that emerged after DC’s ‘Superman’ became a huge sensation the late 1930s. Marston was a respected psychologist and the co-creator of the lie detector test (something that strongly connects to Wonder Woman’s principle weapon, the Lasso of Truth, which figures heavily in the new movie). But Marston had… certain… shall we say… kinks?
Or to put it more politely, he lived an unusual lifestyle in the fairly conservative times. He was married to Elizabeth Holloway and had children with her, but also brought in his assistant Olivia Byrne to live with them. Marston also had children with Byrne. He reportedly asked both women to wear metal bracelets, similar to the bulletproof kind Diana and her fellow Amazons wore in the comics. Byrne was also, reportedly, the lover of both William and Elizabeth, something the film will delve into. Because of the times, the group pretended that Byrne was Holloway’s widowed sister to avoid condemnation. Both women reportedly inspired Wonder Woman in some way.
As a serious psychologist, Marston didn’t want to tarnish his name, so in the comics, which he wrote, he was billed as Charles Moulton. But his proclivity for S&M and bondage figured heavily in the early ‘Wonder Woman’ comics, which were lushly illustrated by Harry G. Peter. The… ummmm… edgy nature of the ‘Wonder Woman’ comic books made her a particular favorite of soldiers stationed abroad during World War II, which helped this character to continue to thrive, alongside Batman and Superman, after superhero comics fell out of favor in the early 1950s.
‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ goes behind the curtain to examine the unusual lifestyle of Wonder Woman’s creator and the women he loved. ‘Dracula Untold”s Luke Evans stars as the titular psychologist/author, while Rebecca Hall (‘Iron Man 3) portrays Elizabeth Holloway and Bella Heathcote (’50 Shades of Grey’) plays Olivia Byrne.
Just to be clear, this is not a Warner Brothers film. It’s an indie, coming from Annarpurna Pictures. It won’t be in your local multiplex. In fact there is no release date and the film may end up only playing in arthouse theaters before going to streaming services.
Are you intrigued to examine the life of the man that created the greatest female superhero icon?
In the meantime, of course, ‘Wonder Woman’, directed by Patty Jenkins, starring Gal Gadot is now playing in theaters.