PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN
Distributed by Annapurna Pictures
Written and directed by Angela Robinson
Starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, Bella Heathcote
A movie preview by Bob Reyer
As long-time (and even casual!) listeners of Talking Comics know, I’m a huge fan of Wonder Woman, and I’ve spoken about this iconic character’s creation by Dr. William Moulton Marston on numerous occasions, as well as having penned more than a few pieces addressing this topic. Briefly, Dr. Marston was a renowned psychologist with some very ahead-of-his-time ideas about feminism, who along with the powerful women in his life set out to create a comic book character who could deliver those unconventional messages, all whilst living an uncommon lifestyle.
To cap this “Year of Wonder Woman“, a new film opens on 13 October that will bring the fascinating story of the creation and creators of the most important super-heroine of them all to movie-goers everywhere. Entitled “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women“, it was written and directed by Angela Robinson (“The L Word”, “True Blood”), and stars Luke Evans (“Beauty and the Beast”, “Tamara Drewe”) as Professor Marston, Rebecca Hall (“The Gift”) as Elizabeth Marston, and Bella Heathcote (“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies”) as Olive Byrne.
As those who listened to our recent episode with Trina Robbins might remember, I had some qualms about the tone of the initial teaser, but subsequent longer trailers and some positive “pre-reviews” had me coming around, so when offered the chance to participate in a press event featuring Ms. Robinson, Ms. Hall, and Mr. Evans, I fairly leapt at the chance.
Through an engaging and enlightening discussion with these very talented people behind the film, one could sense from all involved a passion to tell this story with care and respect, with each of them describing a personal connection to the material. Ms. Robinson, for example, spent more than eight years shepherding this story to the screen, half of that on research and writing alone. As she described this process, you could hear an excitement in her voice that she had delivered on her own promise to tell this story in a way that didn’t create a sense of prejudice or “other-ness” about the protagonists, a point echoed by Rebecca Hall.
Ms. Hall was first intrigued by the New Yorker article that preceded Jill Lepore’s “Secret History of Wonder Woman”, and when given the script for this film felt that she had to had to help make it happen, considering both the character’s and creators’ “hopeful feminism”, and what she described as the “magical way” that the script depicted the relationship between the lead characters.
For his part, Mr. Evans dove head-long into researching Dr. Marston through documentary footage, historical accounts, and the doctor’s own published works, especially his DISC Theory on inter-personal relationships (still in use at major corporations today!) and his seminal “Emotions of Normal People”, whose opening line “Are you normal?” spoke to him about how both the good doctor viewed–and how the film would portray–his own life.
Angela Robinson threw the phrase “The Year of Wonder Woman” into the mix, what with the 75th anniversary of the character, Greg Rucka’s recent run on the comic, and of course the feature film, juxtaposing the Amazon Princess’ iconic stature with the current events that make her more needed than ever as a symbol for hope and equality. Based on my experience hearing Ms. Robinson, Ms. Hall, and Mr. Evans speak with such passion and commitment about “Professor Marston & the Wonder Women“, I have great faith that the film will be a special addition to that celebration.
You can learn more about “Dr. Marston & the Wonder Women” at the official website, and here’s the trailer that was debuted at NYCC: