Arriving on DVD from the 19th March and available on digital download now is the superb Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, the extraordinary true story of the creator of one of the most iconic superheroes of all time, and the seductive secret life he kept from his fans.
The film stars Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, and Bella Heathcote and focusses upon the title character of Marston, the creator of the legendary DC superhero Wonder Woman.
To celebrate the film’s release on the home formats, we take a look at five remarkable real-life stores behind some of your favourite comic book heroes.
William Moulton Marston – Wonder Woman – Created: 1941
William Marston, the titular subject of Professor Marston & The Wonder Women, is the man credited with the invention of one of the most popular female comic book heroes of our time, Wonder Woman. As the film suggests, Marston lived quite the life. As well as creating Wonder Woman, who would go on to appear in hundreds of comic books, TV shows, and movies (the latest being the $800 million 2017 smash), the American psychologist was also the inventor of an early prototype of the lie detector.
Marston, who went by the pen-name of Charles Marston, also had a rather unconventional private life for the time, as he was involved in a polyamorous relationship with his wife, Elizabeth (played by Rebecca Hall in the film) and their lover, Olive (Bella Heathcote).
Both Elizabeth and Olive “embodied the feminism of the day,” and both women would influence Marston’s writing up until his death from skin cancer at the age of 53.
Stan Lee – Co-Creator Of Spider-Man, Hulk, Iron Man & More
At 95 years old, there’s nobody more iconic than Stanley Martin Lieber. With Jack Kirby and other artists, Lee is the man responsible for co-creating Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men and many more.
In the ten years since the birth of Marvel Studios, the film studio now owned by Disney, Lee’s legendary status has been elevated even more, their superhero movies dominating movie screens every year.
Just a few years before, in 2001, Lee’s co-owned company Stan Lee Media, a superhero creation, production, and marketing studio, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He started POW! Entertainment shortly afterward, a company that developed movies and television shows centered on new superheroes. He sold a 10% stake in the firm to Disney in 2007, just a year before Iron Man, Marvel Studios’ debut superhero movie debuted in cinemas.
Depending on which source you go by, Lee is now worth anywhere between $50 and $100 million and also makes cameo appearances in all of Marvel’s movies.
Bob Kane and Bill Finger – Batman – Created: 1941
As part of the mega DC Comics portfolio, Batman first appeared on shelves in 1941, the same year as Wonder Woman. Created by artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, the character first appeared in an issue of Detective Comics. “Kane had an idea for a character called ‘Batman,’ and he’d like me to see the drawings,” Finger recalled in an interview. “I went over to Kane’s, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of … reddish tights, I believe, with boots … no gloves, no gauntlets … with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out, looking like bat wings. And under it was a big sign … BATMAN”.
Over 70 years later and the Batman is still appearing in both comic-books and in the movies, but his look – said to be drawn from contemporary 1930s popular culture – still remains relatively the same. Though he had no input on the Chistopher Nolan movies – Kane sadly passed away in 1998 – the co-creator of Batman did work on Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman and its sequel, along with the first two Joel Schumacher films.
Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster – Superman – Created: 1938
Arguably the world’s most famous superhero is Superman. He’s the oldest character on our list, first debuting in comic books all of the ways back in 1938. Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster are the two men credited with creating the Man of Steel, the pair just two regular high school students living in Cleveland, Ohio at the time of Superman’s conception.
Siegel came from humble beginnings – his father was a sign painter who opened a local haberdashery – as did Shuster, who was born in Toronto, Canada to a Jewish family. The latter even scrounged for paper to draw on on the streets of the city. “I would go from store to store in Toronto and pick up whatever they threw out,” he once said in an interview. “One day, I was lucky enough to find a bunch of wallpaper rolls that were unused and left over from some job. The backs were blank, naturally. So it was a goldmine for me, and I went home with every roll I could carry. I kept using that wallpaper for a long time.”
The pair created the world’s most recognisable superhero after working on a science fiction fanzine called Science Fiction together. “When Joe and I first met, it was like the right chemicals coming together,” Shuster is quoted in saying, and the rest, as they say, is history. In the decades since, Superman has appeared in comic-book form, on television in the likes of Smallville and Lois & Clark, and of course of the big screen with Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh and most recently Henry Cavill portraying the iconic character.
Joe Simon and Jack Kirby – Captain America – Created: 1941
As you can tell from this list, most of the great comic book characters were created back during the World War II years, and there’s no greater symbol of hope from that time than Captain America.
Created in 1941 by cartoonists Joe Simon and Jack Kirby, the character first appeared in Captain America Comics #1 in March of that year. The character of Captain America is the alter ego of Steve Rogers, ‘a frail young man enhanced to the peak of human perfection by an experimental serum to aid the United States government’s efforts in World War II.’
Joe Simon reportedly came up with the character a year earlier in 1940. In his autobiography, he said that the character was first called ‘Super American’, but “No, it didn’t work. There were too many “Supers” around. “Captain America” had a good sound to it. There weren’t a lot of captains in comics. It was as easy as that. The boy companion was simply named Bucky, after my friend Bucky Pierson, a star on our high school basketball team.”
The two characters are some of the most popular in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, portrayed by Chris Evans and Sebastian Stan respectively.
While the latter four stories of the conception of some of our favourite heroes are interesting, there’s nothing that quite matches the story of William Marston and Wonder Woman. The film Professor Marston & The Wonder Women is genuinely a superb film and you can check out our very positive review of its cinema release over here.
Professor Marston & The Wonder Women is available now on digital download and on DVD from Monday, 19th March 2018.