“Wonder Woman,” the film that featured Israeli actress Gal Gadot cutting a swath through Europe in the closing weeks of the First World War, was one of the few smash hits of the 2017 summer movie season. By an odd happenstance, another Origin Story of the famed, feminist superhero is coming to the big screen. It is called “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women.” The story is about how a Harvard psychologist named Dr. William Marston created the Wonder Woman comic and how his unusual domestic arrangements with his wife and a former student influenced the development of the super heroine.

Who was William Marston?

Marston would have been a significant person even if he had not imagined a female superhero. Along with his wife, Elizabeth Marston, he developed the systolic blood pressure test that is now a part of modern polygraphs. He was also convinced that women tended to be more honest than men and could work faster and more accurately under stress.

The idea of a female superhero was Elizabeth Marston’s as well.

Marston’s idea was to create a superhero who could conquer villains out of “love” rather than violence. His wife suggested that she be a woman. After some development, Wonder Woman became a hero who could prevail from strength, but maintain her femininity.

The other aspect of Marston that was kept secret in the 1930s and 1940s was the fact that he lived in a three-way relationship with his wife and a former student named Olive Byrne. After Marston’s death from cancer, Elizabeth Marston and Olive Byrne continued to raise his children as a couple.

The scandal of Wonder Woman

The comic book Wonder Woman created a scandal in the 1940s due to the sexual undertones of the character. The outrage did not just derive from the images of an attractive woman with superpowers, but rather the tendency of the main character and her opponents to find themselves tied up. Wonder Woman was always restraining the bad guys with her lasso of truth. In turn, her opponents would sometimes get the best of her and tie her up.

Marston was quite open in his desire to use the comic book series to condition its readers to be more accepting of submission to “loving authority.” It goes almost without saying that the bondage aspect of the series was severely downplayed after Marston died. Marston also envisioned his character as being empowering to young girls, inspiring them to create their own destinies, a radical idea in the 1940s.

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” is due to hit the big screen on October 13, 2017. Luke Evans plays Marston. Rebecca Hall plays Elizabeth Marston. Bella Heathcote plays Olive Byrne.

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