Taglines: Meet the women behind the man behind the woman.
The story is told in flashbacks set during a 1945 testimony that William Moulton Marston gives to representatives of the Child Study Association of America. William and his wife Elizabeth teach and work on their research at Harvard and Radcliffe Colleges in 1928, when William hires one of his students, Olive Byrne, the daughter of Ethel Byrne and niece of Margaret Sanger, as a new teaching assistant. Olive aids in the Marstons’ work in inventing the lie detector and conducting research on William’s DISC theory on human interactions, and the three soon grow close. One after another tests by the lie detector reveal that they have fallen in love with one another, and they begin to engage in a polyamorous relationship.
As words about their unconventional relationship gets out, the Marstons are fired from the university. Olive reveals that she is pregnant and moves in with the Marstons shortly after. They decide to build a family together and create a fabrication to keep secret the nature of their relationship. The family settle in a New York suburb, happily together.
Both Elizabeth and Olive bear children by William, telling the neighbors that Olive is a widow and taken in by the Marstons. William starts trying to make a living as an author. Elizabeth takes a job as a secretary and becomes the main breadwinner of the family. Olive stays at home and take care of the kids, occasionally submitting her writing samples to publishers. They raise their four children together, and Elizabeth names her daughter after Olive.
William stumbles upon a shop run by Charles Guyette, who introduces him to fetish art themed comics and photos. The art captures William’s imagination as a demonstration of his DISC theory. Elizabeth initially disapproves of the art, but she relents during a presentation wherein Olive tries out an outfit that later would be the prototype for Wonder Woman’s costume.
After finding limited work as a writer, Marston comes up with the idea of creating a female Amazonian super-heroine for comic book. The comic would feature his ideas on DISC theory, drawing inspiration from the Marstons’ work on the lie detector as well as Elizabeth and Olive in real life, and intend to support the feminist movement to further equal rights for women through a populist medium. He pitches his ideas to Max Gaines, then publisher at National Periodical Publications (today DC Comics), who ultimately accepts the comic and suggests simplifying the female superhero’s name to “Wonder Woman.”
“Wonder Woman” is an instant hit, leading to prosperity for the Marstons/Byrne family. However, one day, their neighbor Mary wanders into their home by coincidence and walks into the three having sex. This incident leads to their children getting bullied and asked to leave school. Worried about their children being attacked and ostracized, and thinking they have no other choice, Elizabeth reluctantly demands Olive to leave the household with her children. At the same time, the “Wonder Woman” comic gets growing accusations of featuring overtly sexual, sadomasochistic, and lesbian imagery that lead to the testimony.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a 2017 American biographical drama film about American psychologist William Moulton Marston, who created the fictional character Wonder Woman. The film, directed and written by Angela Robinson, stars Luke Evans as Marston, Rebecca Hall as his legal wife Elizabeth and Bella Heathcote as the Marstons’ lover and live-in mistress, Olive Byrne. JJ Feild, Oliver Platt and Connie Britton also star. The film premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and was released in the United States on October 13, 2017. It received positive reviews from critics, who praised Robinson’s direction and the performances of its stars.
Principal photography on the film began in early October 2016. Annapurna Pictures handles the worldwide rights, while Topple Productions and Boxspring Entertainment produced the film. Amy Redford also produced, along with Terry Leonard. The film was released on October 13, 2017 by Annapurna Pictures. It had its world premiere at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival in September.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017)
Directed by: Angela Robinson
Starring: Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote, Connie Britton, Monica Giordano, Chris Conroy, Oliver Platt, Maggie Castle, Alexa Havins, Sharon Kubo, Gabriella Nail
Screenplay by: Angela Robinson
Production Design by: Carl Sprague
Cinematography by: Bryce Fortner
Film Editing by: Jeffrey M. Werner
Costume Design by: Donna Maloney
Set Decoration by: Danica Chipman
Music by: Tom Howe
MPAA Rating: R for strong sexual content including brief graphic images, and language.
Distributed by: Annapurna Pictures
Release Date: October 13, 2017