PROFESSOR MARSTON AND THE WONDER WOMEN: Superheroes have the common thread of leading double lives that have underlying significance. I remember David Carradine’s observation in KILL BILL VOL. 2 (2004) that Clark Kent was Superman’s critique on mere mortals. But the “man of steel” was at least content with just Lois Lane as a love interest while the academic real-life creator (Luke Evans) of Wonder Woman engaged in a near lifelong “ménage a trois” with his outspoken, progressive spouse (Rebecca Hall) and an attractive research assistant (Bella Heathcote) who were also his creative muses. Director/writer Angela Robinson’s screenplay is a kind of gender-reversed version of JULES AND JIM (1961) that occasionally disallows facts (See CLOSING CREDITS.) from getting in the way of making an intriguing film. But praise needs to be bestowed for a script that never dumbs down its content or dialogue for the viewer. Although Heathcote’s (DARK SHADOWS) bisexuality comes off abruptly without any indication of her having such feelings, it doesn’t deter the work from concentrating on how an unconventional lifestyle found its way into a new art form which lauded females for their dominance as they pushed on the envelope of the era’s sexual mores. The editing seamlessly transitions scenes back and forth in time between sequences where Marston is defending his work’s sadomasochistic tone before the Child Study Association Of America to the past where a pair of sexually liberated women inspired his creative vision. Hall’s (THE GIFT) performance is a real standout for both the power and poignancy that she brings to a complicated role. Like the lie detector invented by the professor, this movie at its’ core is about discovering secrets that people are hiding from themselves which emerge only to be hidden again from a society regarding such feelings as unacceptable. CRITIC’S GRADE: B+
CLOSING CREDITS: When he created the most popular female comic-book superhero of all time, Dr. William Moulton Marston was already an internationally famous psychologist. When Marston met student Olive Byrne, he gave his attorney wife a choice. Either Byrne would live with them or he would leave her. She chose the former and the trio never revealed the nature of their relationship to anyone. In fact, Byrne’s two sons never learned that Marston was their biological father until they were both adults. In Jill Lepore’s “THE SECRET HISTORY OF WONDER WOMAN”, she wrote that the veil shrouding Wonder Woman’s past for decades hid a crucial story about comic books, superheroes, censorship and feminism. As Marston himself once put it, “Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who I believe should rule the world”.