In a superhero origin tale unlike any other, this film is the incredible true story of what inspired Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston to create the iconic Wonder Woman character in the 1940’s.
While Marston’s feminist superhero was criticised 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 and their lover Olive Byrne, two empowered women who defied convention: working with Marston on human behaviour research – while building a hidden life with him that rivaled the greatest of superhero disguises.
Directed by Angela Robinson, the movie stars Luke Evans as Marston, Rebecca Hall as his wife, Bella Heathcoate as the couple’s shared lover.
When developing the idea for the film, Robinson thought at first she was researching the story of a man, his wife and his mistress but she soon discovered their dynamic was deeper than that.
It’s fundamentally a love story between the three of them,” Robinson said. “It’s an exploration of their ideas [about feminism, bondage, and pacifism] and his relationship with Elizabeth and Olive, and their relationship with him, and then how all of that found its way into Wonder Woman.”
Robinson said that she initially was approaching the story as a movie “about a guy who had a wife and a mistress and that they lived together.” However, her perspective changed when she learned that Elizabeth and Olive continued to live together for 38 years after Marston’s death, opening up the idea that it was a love story for all of them.
That one sentence totally blew my mind, because I was like, ‘I’m looking at it all wrong,'” she said. “This is a story about the three of them. They were all in love together. That really opened up the story to me and it became really important to also tell it from the perspective of Elizabeth and Olive and Marston— all three of them— and to kind of tell it as a love story and to try and really ground it and be respectful and investigate what Marston was trying to do and how their lives inspired Wonder Woman.”
Marston led an interesting and storied life, and Robinson hopes that, by learning more about the creator’s passions, fans will get a better understanding of Diana as well.
People have had all sorts of relationships since the beginning of time and they were really progressive, exciting, incredible people, who I think shared a deep love for each other. To me, they’re heroes in and of themselves. I really think it’s time for their story to be told and for them to kind of get the respect and admiration that I think they deserve,” she continued. “It’s their core ideas and core values that really infused this superhero who we all, right now, love.”
Robinson has had success with prestige television such as Hung and True Blood, and was a driving force as a writer and director on Showtime’s The L Word.
Her two feature films, D.E.B.S. and Herbie: Fully Loaded, have leaned heavily on comedy, which is a strong suit.
With Annapurna’s might behind her and subject matter this ripe, Marston heralds a new phase in Robinson’s career — a much deserved one that’s been a long time coming.