To the short list of movies about Harvard professors behaving oddly (‘Altered States’,
‘The Paper Chase’) add this underpowered WWII-era drama about married faculty members Elizabeth and William Marston (Rebecca Hall and Luke Evans). The hook? It was in this corner of academia that DC Comics’ Wonder Woman was created. Libertines of the psychology faculty, they invite comely student Olive (Bella Heathcote) into their research lab and bed. After some of the tamest three-ways ever committed to film, the trio eventually create the iconic superheroine.
It all really happened – along with the invention of the polygraph and run-ins with nosy neighbours – but surely with a lot more passion than writer-director Angela Robinson’s script would have it. Wonder Woman’s genesis in bondage play and a wilfully naughty attempt to subvert the mainstream deserves a more courageous film than this gauzy and over-scored effort. All is not lost, though: Hall plays pin-sharp and cerebral better than anyone; and the movie is stronger when exploring its polyamorous affair beyond the golden lasso. But it doesn’t reflect well on an ostensible period drama when Gal Gadot’s recent superheroine blockbuster feels like it has more depth.