Rice University’s Student Newspaper — Since 1916

Sunday, February 17, 2019 — Houston, TX 63°

​‘Professor Marston’ recounts Wonder Woman’s invention


By Maddie Flavin     10/25/17 12:12am

After a 75-year journey from its comic book debut to the big screen, “Wonder Woman” became this summer’s biggest hit. The film broke industry records, shattered glass ceilings and established itself as one of the greatest superhero films to date. While Wonder Woman’s origin story is well known few know the story of the character’s creation. In “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women,” writer and director Angela Robinson tells the wild truth of the backstory to Wonder Woman’s creation, which was too taboo to be spoken of for decades.

Radcliffe College, 1928. At this Harvard sister school, psychology Professor William Moulton Marston teaches a class about his dominance, inducement, submission and compliance theory of human behavior. His wife, Elizabeth Holloway Marston, is his academic equal but is barred from receiving a doctorate for her work due to the era’s gender constraints. Olive Byrne, one of Marston’s students and birth control advocate Margaret Sanger’s niece, submits an application to assist the couple in Professor Marston’s research. As Olive helps the couple invent the lie detector and lets them into her social life, both the Professor and Elizabeth find themselves increasingly attracted to Olive’s curiosity, and she to their radical philosophies on gender and personality. But, when the trio realizes that they are all sexually attracted to each other, they know that this secret could destroy them. In spite of these hardships, the threesome embraces its desires, and their relationship leads to the creation of Wonder Woman which, according to the film’s end credits, remains the biggest-selling female superhero of all time.

Luke Evans is a woman’s best friend as Professor Marston. Selfless and respectful, the professor is unapologetic of his progressive worldview. He defends his lifestyle, his ideas, his partners and his creation until his dying breath, refusing to go down without a hard fight. As Elizabeth, Rebecca Hall is ferocious. Fearless, Elizabeth isn’t afraid to speak her mind, even if what comes out isn’t “ladylike.” Even when she and the professor have arguments, the mutual respect is still there. Bella Heathcote gives her best performance to date as Olive. Heathcote effectively transmits Olive’s internal conflicts through her eyes and she makes Olive’s journey from timid girl to empowered woman a truly moving one. The sequence where Olive dons a burlesque outfit that would become the basis for the Wonder Woman costume, complete with tiara and a bondage lasso, is spine-tingling and magical. The chemistry between the professor, Elizabeth and Olive withstands even severe relationship turbulence and makes for engrossing, kinky intimacy, particularly during the film’s first-act finale — a role-play threesome in the backstage area of an on-campus theater that flows pitch perfectly with Nina Simone’s “Feeling Good.”

“What is normal?” asks Professor Marston at the start of the film, as he sits before a committee that deems his creation and his principles controversial. Even by today’s considerably more lenient standards of decency, his polyamorous relationship might still raise eyebrows. But, like the man and the women behind the Woman, “Professor Marston” stands its ground about its point of view, satisfying those with a hankering for something more than ordinary.

Rating: 4 / 5 Stars

"Professor Marsten and the Wonder Women" is rated R. The movie is playing now in theaters. 

Watch the trailer below: 


Now Playing Get your tickets now: http://tickets.marston.movie In a superhero origin tale unlike any other, PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN 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.

More from The Rice Thresher

A&E 2/12/19 9:32pm
‘Thank u, next’ doesn’t hold back

Ariana Grande dropped her fifth and newest studio album, “thank u, next,” last Friday. With this release, Grande has found her “next,” and it’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It is, however, delicious pop music with memorable, emotional hooks.


Please note All comments are eligible for publication by The Rice Thresher.