5 Questions for ‘Professor Marston and the Wonder Women’ Director Angela Robinson (EXCLUSIVE CLIP)

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women blazes into theaters nationwide this Friday (October 13th) and GLAAD is excited to bring you a first look at a scene from the film, along with a new interview with its writer and director, Angela Robinson. The film currently stands fresh with an impressive 90% tomato meter score on Rotten Tomatoes. 

The film tells the story of psychologist William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans) – famous for inventing both the Wonder Woman character and the lie detector test – but also, the unconventional polyamorous relationship he shared with his wife Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and their mistress, Olive (Bella Heathcote), both of whom inspired the iconic superhero.

In GLAAD's exclusive first look, William, Elizabeth, Olive, and Olive’s fiancé share a picnic by a lake and play a guessing game about what each of them longs for in their lives:

GLAAD caught up with Robinson to ask about what attracted her to tell this very compelling story of 3 individuals who chose to lead lives that were much more progressive than the times they lived in.

Angela Robinson
(Photo courtesy of Annapurna Pictures)

The plot of “Professor Marston and the Wonder Women” isn’t exactly easy to explain casually to someone – they really have to see the film to understand its message – what’s your “elevator pitch” for describing it to anyone who’s not already familiar with it?

I tell people the film is about the extraordinary life of the guy who created Wonder Woman and the two women who were the inspiration for the Wonder Woman character. If it’s a long elevator ride I go on to say that Dr. Marston is the inventor of the lie detector test and that he and his wife fell in love with their student and they all lived together and raised a family together and that this love story is the origin story of Wonder Woman.  

What drew you to this story? And why tell it now in 2017?

I’ve always been a Wonder Woman fan. After I shot my first feature, D.E.B.S., Jordana Brewster knew I was a Wonder Woman fan and gave me a history of Wonder Woman book as a wrap gift. I read it and there was a chapter in the book on the Marstons’ story and I was blown away. It was just such an incredible story. I became obsessed with telling it. What struck me when I read it was what a contemporary story it was. The Marstons were ahead of their time in the 1930’s and 40’s and they’re STILL ahead of their time.  

Although it’s the story of a polyamorous relationship, the women in the relationship truly have agency. Why was it important to portray this?

When I started writing the film I realized that you couldn’t tell a story about the man who created Wonder Woman without fully exploring the two women in his life who inspired the character. It was important to me that both Elizabeth and Olive have agency — they were strong, bold, incredibly brave and intelligent women. As for the love story part of it, I think the love story is between all three of them — I think that’s why their relationship worked, it was like a tripod, if you remove one of the legs then the whole thing would tip over. (Spoiler alert…) In the end, Marston dies and Elizabeth and Olive lived together for the rest of their lives. That’s what really happened. 

How did being a queer woman of color inform your choices while directing this film?

In a couple of ways — I am very sensitive to representation and how important that is. It’s important to me as a viewer and so it’s also important to me as a filmmaker that I approach and portray identity and communities in a respectful way. I consulted with two female “rope experts” who were part of the Boston BDSM/kink community who designed the beautiful rope work in the film and gave me and the actors workshops on the history/philosophy/safety/practice of BDSM. As a woman, I worked with the idea of the “female gaze” with my cinematographer (Bryce Fortner).  In the staging of the love scenes, it was important to me that the female characters were in control of what was happening. I also was very committed in the film to the idea of “consent as foreplay.” The characters are always asking the other characters for their consent and checking in with them — a lot of what is erotic about the film is psychological. I feel like it comes from a female POV.  

A petition is going around currently to “make Wonder Woman bisexual” in the current big budget Warner Bros. franchise, to match how the character is written canonically in the comic book – do you think it’s important for the Gal Gadot-portrayed version of Wonder Woman to explore her sexual orientation on the big screen? And if so, why is it important?

I do think it is important - now that Wonder Woman is canonically queer ‑ to represent that in the next Wonder Woman. I think it would mean so much to so many people! I also feel like being true to oneself and living your truth is deeply embedded in what Wonder Woman is about and that it would be brave if the big screen version of Wonder Woman could reflect that.

[ SIGN THE PETITION to make Wonder Woman bisexual - it's almost to 10,000 signatures! ]