Professor Marston and the Wonder Women review: Think you know the story of the creation of Wonder Woman? Think again, as this engrossing tale will lasso you in, rivet and surprise you, right up until to the final frames.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women review by Paul Heath.
Angela Robinson writes and directs this entertaining, engrossing and strangely eye-opening film, based on true events, surrounding the life of the man behind the creator of Wonder Woman, and his remarkable life in post-World War II America.
The ‘Professor Marston’ of the title is Luke Evans’ William Moulton Marston, a university professor from Massachusetts, who works alongside his wife Elizabeth Holloway Marston (Rebecca Hall) at the highly prestigious Radcliffe College. It is here where they both meet young student Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), who would soon become their personal assistant and someone that the couple both fall in love with. The feeling turns out to be mutual, and the three embark on a long relationship, one that leads to both sexual exploration, liberation, and ultimately the creation of a comic book character to become known around the world as Wonder Woman.
Related: Wonder Woman review
There are many wonders contained in this absorbing drama from the clearly talented Angela Robinson, a filmmaker whose directorial credits to date include the 2004 action-comedy D.E.B.S., the Disney movie Herbie Fully Loaded, and the popular TV series The L Word.
Wonders contained within this, easily her best work, include the fact that Marston not only created the world’s greatest female superhero, but also an early version of the lie detector, a machine that plays such a huge role in the well-written and massively fascinating story. There’s also the love story at the center of the film too, one which most won’t be familiar with, and the account of William, Elizabeth and Olive is one told with tender care, loving affection and with huge curiosity. Their story is intriguing, engrossing and wonderfully staged with some superb action from Evans, Hall and particularly Heathcote, who continues on her road to super-stardom following more supporting turns in the likes of The Neon Demon, and on television with the Amazon project The Man In The High Castle. The role of Olive and the success of her portrayal on screen is pivotal to the movie working, and work it does, Robinson’s script constructed in a way that most of the film is told in flashback from Evans’ point of view. He too shows great range as an actor, and this is amongst his best work to date.
The film is as much about the three characters’ relationship as it is about the creation of Wonder Woman, but this is what we are more interested in, and Robinson’s script slowly drips information to the viewer on what we’re seeing in their home life, feed into the final conception of the legendary Diana Prince. Of course, we eventually get to see Marston take his invention to Max Gaines (a very funny Oliver Platt), one of the pioneers of the American comic book industry, and the man who first introduced Superman to the world, and a little from the success of its first run, including much of its early controversy from the huge amounts of female dominance, and other assorted bondage seen in the early issues.
Make no mistake though, this is about Marston’s wonder women, plural, and is very much not what you may first expect – but in a very good way.
There are a few parts and tone shifts that do cause a few minor issues, but by the point in which they present in the film, we’re already more than investing in this riveting, emotional story that it doesn’t matter.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a beautifully made, fully-absorbing ‘wonder’ of a movie, and a brilliant true story. It is a great accompanying piece to Patty Jenkins’ outstanding feature from earlier this year, and a truly wonderful, well-crafted film, and comes highly recommended.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women review by Paul Heath, October 2017.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women will be released in the UK on November 10th, 2017.