Wonder Woman creator William Moulton Marston led an interesting life, many elements from which can be found in his famous female superhero creation.  Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is a biopic that explores Marston's relation ship with two important women -- and how it all led to Wonder Woman.

The movie opens in the 1940s, with William Mounton Marston (Luke Evans) being grilled on the salacious elements of his Wonder Woman comic book by Josette Frank (Connie Britton), a member of the morality police.  This is intercut with flashbacks to Marston's life.
In the 1920s, Marston was a professor at Harvard, teaching the then-new science of psychology and working on inventing the lie detector; he also teaches his students DISC theory, which includes dominance and submission elements and the idea that women would do better running the world than men.  He worked with his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall), a blunt-spoken psychologist who's unhappy she's not being given the same degree as her male counterparts.

Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote) is a student of Marston's who also becomes his research assistant.  She also inspires a tangle of emotions and desires between the three people, leading to the two main sections of the movie.  Early on, there's a question of what will happen, as everyone seems attracted to each other (though Olive has a fiancee).  Later in the movie, they adopt their "unconventional lifestyle" and deal with the consequences, both good and bad.
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is an enjoyable look at some unusual people.  The movie is very pro-kink, as the intricate connection between the trio is more than just a man wanting to be with two women, but all of them having relationships with each other.  While not heavy-handed, the movie shows how experiences in Marston's life became part of Wonder Woman's world, from the lie detector becoming the lasso of truth to a BDSM demonstration (and prototype for Wonder Woman's costume).  The actors are all good, though Rebecca Hall has the most fun as the woman always ready with a quip or sarcasm.  Given the popularity of the recent Wonder Woman movie, this is an informative (and adults-only) look at how she came to be.

Overall grade: B+
Reviewed by James Lynch



There have been plenty of times through history when the differences between men and women have been determined by all sorts of competition.  Battle of the Sexes is a biopic depicting this direct clash on the tennis court in 1973.

The early 1970s were a great time for Billie Jean King (Emma Stone): She was the premiere women's tennis champion in America and, in fighting for equal rewards for female tennis players, founded her own all-female tennis league.  She also began an affair with Marilyn (Andrea Riseborough), which Billie wanted to keep under wraps, both for fear of hurting her husband and for fear of losing her sponsors.

Meanwhile, 50-something Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell) had his own issues.  A former tennis champion, he loves gambling and hustling, while chafing at working at an office job set up by his father-in-law.  His plan to return to competition and fame: Set up big tennis matches between him and female tennis players, with him taking on the role of a sexist villain.  ("I'm putting the show back in chauvinist.")  Billy turns him down, but when she's beaten by Margaret Court (Jessica McNamee) who then gets trounced on the court by Bobby, Billie takes up his challenge for the dignity of female tennis players -- and women everywhere.
Battle of the Sexes is decent but uneven.  While Steve Carell is pretty much regulated to a self-involved clown,  Emma Stone is the focus of most of the movie as Billie, a woman being pulled in several directions -- champion, wife, lover, defender of womankind -- in the public eye.  While she's good in the role, the movie seems to spend far more time on her same-sex affair than on the tennis issues, making the big match seem almost like an afterthought.  Battle of the Sexes could have been a period piece, if it didn't let itself get so distracted.

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch