William Marston’s Granddaughter Denounces “Professor Marston And The Wonder Women” As “Entirely Fictional”

"They shared the same roof, not the same bed," says Christie Marston.

Professor Marston And The Wonder Women hit theaters over the weekend, bringing viewers the story of how the world’s most famous super-heroine was created by Professor William Moulton Marston, his wife, Elizabeth, and his student Olive Byrne.

But Marston’s granddaughter Christie Marston says the film, from out director Angela Robinson, is a work of “pure Hollywood” fiction that fabricates events and relationships in her grandparents’ lives.

Professor Marston & The Wonder Women

One of the major fallacies in the movie, says Marston, is the depiction of a polyamorous sexual relationship between William (Luke Evans), Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall) and Olive (Bella Heathcote).

While it is known the Marstons and Byrne lived and raised their children together, that they shared a sexual bond has never been substantiated.

“Gram [Elizabeth Holloway Marston] and Dots [Olive Byrne Richard] were as sisters, not lovers. They shared the same roof, not the same bed,” Marston tells NewNowNext.

Professor Marston and The Wonder Women

“We talked freely about any subject—but a subject had to exist for it to trigger a conversation,” she adds. “No doubt all three of us would have discussed it from all angles if we had any sliver of an idea that it would become a subject of popular interest a quarter-century after they were gone!”

That’s not to suggest Olive or Elizabeth were uptight or repressed.

“I have a very clear sense of their views on [human sexuality],” says Marston. “They were totally open-minded, and did not allow the ’norms’ of the day to rule their lives. The ridiculous taboos that society put on people for sex is a subject that we discussed in depth. Both Gram and Dots were totally cool with people doing whatever they damned well pleased so long as it involved consenting adults.”

Marston Family

Other errors, she says, misrepresent the historical record.

“Wonder Woman’s origin story was also completely wrong in the film—Gram is the one who insisted that the hero needed to be a woman. Instead she is depicted as naysaying the idea, claiming nobody would ever publish it.”

Marston also says Robinson erroneously gives Charlie Gaines credit for dropping “Suprema” from the comics’ title and shortening it to Wonder Woman—a suggestion made in reality by comics trailblazer Sheldon Mayer. And the burning of Wonder Woman comics didn’t happen until after her grandfather’s death, “but I see no harm in using it that way.”

Christie Marston has been the most vocal member of her family to condemn the film, but other members of her family “are less than thrilled”: “What a contradiction to create a movie so false and yet claiming to be truth—about someone who always stands for truth,” Courtney Marston wrote on Facebook.

Robinson has said she made a conscious choice not to consult the Marston family for the film.

“I wanted the freedom to explore a lot of the controversial themes that you see throughout the story without any preconceived notions,” she told NewNowNext. “I did a ton of research, but I wanted to come to my own interoperation of what I thought the story was.”

At the recent New York Comic-Con, she told audiences, “There’s a lot of facts that are indisputable about the Marstons and there’s a lot that’s open to interpretation. So as a filmmaker, this was my interpretation of their story.”

As queer history increasingly comes to the big screen, the question remains how much fact can be sacrificed in service to larger truths—or just pure entertainment. Does Marston want audiences to boycott Robinson’s film?

“That’s a tough one,” she admits. “On the one hand, I believe that people need to make their own choices. On the other, I have enormous appreciation for the many loyal Wonder Woman fans who are boycotting it because of the huge disrespect for truth. Truth matters—especially to WW fans! So, if people want to see it, of course I would not think poorly of them. Just so long as they know that it is entirely fictional.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.
@ItsDanAvery