For decades, almost everyone in the world knew who Wonder Woman was, as she was the most identifiable female superhero icon in history. But until this past weekend, when her debut film hit theaters and raked in record crowds all over the world, few people knew her origin story, or the real details of who she is. In comparison, everyone knows Superman and Batman’s origin stories, even your grandparents.
But what if I told you the real story of how Wonder Woman came to be published back in 1941 was just as fascinating as her fictional backstory? Wonder Woman has a backstory unlike any superhero in history, and it’s finally being made into a film called Professor Marston and the Wonder Women, which just released its very first teaser trailer, which you can view down below.
The film is written and directed by Angela Robinson, and stars Luke Evans as Wonder Woman’s creator, Dr. William Moulton Marston, and as the titular “wonder women”, Rebecca Hall as Elizabeth Holloway Marston, and Bella Heathcote as Olive Byrne.
Dr. William Moulton Marston was a prominent Harvard psychologist, one who consulted on Hollywood movies, and whose opinions on pop culture were consulted for magazine articles. Notably, he also helped invent the lie detector. After superhero comics exploded in popularity with the dual arrivals of Superman and Batman in the late ’30s, he wrote a magazine article condemning the “blood curdling masculinity” of this new fad, and how it was desperately missing a feminine touch.
To take some public heat off of themselves, DC Comics contacted him and asked him to create a character for them who exhibited his ideology, and Wonder Woman was born, and was an instant hit. Marston put it bluntly then, saying “Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world.”
But William Moulton Marston was living with a secret. He had a wife, Elizabeth, herself also Harvard educated and a lawyer, but they were in a polyamorous relationship with a young woman named Olive Byrne, who was also the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most important feminists of the 20th century.
Marston fathered children with both of them, and they all secretly lived together in upstate New York. This is during a time when such relationships weren’t just frowned upon by society, they could destroy your career and even land you in jail.
The three of them came up with the feminist ideology of Wonder Woman and her stories, shaping the minds of a generation of young girls all over America. It’s not a coincidence that the second wave feminists like Gloria Steinem grew up loving Wonder Woman. But although all three of them helped come up with these stories, only Marston was able to take credit.
All of their ideals and ideology became a part of these comic book stories, essentially aimed at children. Marston’s obsession with the truth, which led him to create the lie detector, became Diana’s magic lasso. Obviously his belief in the power of women was all over every panel. But there was also a ton of bondage imagery, and talk about “loving submission”, all of which suggest that Marston was heavily into BD/SM, although that’s something we’re all going to have to just guess about.
Although some people have taken issue with a man “forcing” his wife to accept another woman into the relationship, all signs point to Elizabeth Marston being not only ok with this arrangement, but encouraging of it. When William Marston died in 1947, a mere five years after Wonder Woman was created, Elizabeth and Olive stayed together for another five decades. So take that, all you judgy people out there.
Now that Wonder Woman’s fictional history has been told via the hit film starring Gal Gadot, it’s high time that the true story of the people who created her was told to a (hopefully) more tolerant world. For more info, head on over to the film’s website, ProfessorM.movie.
Are you as excited as we are to see the true story of the people who created the Amazing Amazon come to life? If you’re stoked to see this biopic, let us know down below in the comments.
Images: Annapurna Films / DC Comics
Wonder Woman’s sword is real, real sharp
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