Wonder Woman was a PG-13 blockbuster but her real origins are for adults only, as depicted in Professor Marston & the Wonder Women (R). Writer-director Angela Robinson dramatizes her comic book creator's erotic inspirations; you'll never think of Wonder Woman's lasso of truth the same way again.
Luke Evans stars as Dr. William Moulton Marston, a psychology professor exalting feminism decades before the women's liberation movement. His theory that all human behavior is caused by dominance, inducement, submission or compliance was a radical idea Marston worked into his love life. Bondage and light S&M were his kinks that Robinson tastefully portrays.
Robinson's research alongside his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), also led to the earliest development of lie detectors. Indeed, the most sexually charged scene Robinson stages is a lie detector demonstration on Elizabeth and Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote), a student invited into their polyamorous circle. Elizabeth minds more than she lets on; Olive is a more daring sexual adventurer than expected. Marston stands in awe of their diversely feminine strength.
Meanwhile, Marston's famed comic book hero takes shape on primary-colored pages, sneaking in visual cues mirroring Marston's private life. Wonder Woman's lasso of truth becomes the manifestation of both his academic pursuits. Wonder Woman regularly finds herself tied up in provocative poses, or leaving villains in humiliating poses.
Robinson's screenplay covers all of its bases by the midway point, and then a framing device of Marston being interrogated by a cultural watchdog (Connie Britton) hammers his theories flat. Yet he presciently insists that Wonder Woman is tomorrow's feminism, so get used to it. B-