5 ways Elizabeth Marston led to the creation of Wonder Woman

5 ways Elizabeth Marston led to the creation of Wonder Woman


Text: Rachel Chan

Image: Getty Images

Leading up to International Women’s Day, we rewind back to history to look at how Elizabeth Marston influenced her husband's comic book character, Wonder Woman

1. Her suggested polyamorous relationship with her husband and Olive Byrne
Probably the main and most important factor to the birth of the iconic DC Comics superhero, Elizabeth (played by Rebecca Hall) and her husband, William Marston (played by Luke Evans), fell in love with his student, Olive Byrne (played by Bella Heathcote). They met Byrne while testing out William's lie detector system, and their ménage à trois spiraled from there. Inspired by how intimate and brave Elizabeth and Bryne were in loving each other, the film suggested that Marston then created Wonder Woman. "Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who should, I believe, rule the world," said William in an interview.

2. Her determination to push herself in a male-dominated society
Like the Wonder Woman she was, Elizabeth graduated with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Mount Holyoke College and a Bachelor of Laws from Boston University after Harvard Law School rejected her for being a female. Although she approached her father for help with tuition fees, he brushed her off. "Absolutely not. As long as I have money to keep you in aprons, you can stay home with your mother," he said, as recounted in an interview by her granddaughter, Susan Grupposo.

Delivering cookbooks to ladies' clubs, she paid everything off, and was one of the three women to graduate in her cohort. Elizabeth later went on to get her Master's degree in psychology from Harvard University's Radcliffe College, an institution specifically for women. Gruposso added: "Gram drilled into my head from an early age that a woman should be able to support herself. She'd say, 'Angel child, never, never be beholden to any man, ever'".

3. She contributed to his research
Working in Harvard's psychology department, Elizabeth lent a helping had to William's systolic blood-pressure test. Moulton Marston, the couple's son, said in an interview: "She helped him, and his thesis was on the use of blood pressure measurements to test for deception and other emotional reactions." 

4. She wanted William to create a female superhero
Unlike what was depicted in the movie where Elizabeth told William that no one would publish a comic with a female superhero, the couple's other granddaughter, Christie Marston, proved otherwise. "William was hired as a psych consultant for what would become DC Comics to help guide comics into mainstream America," she said in an interview. Max Gaines, a pioneer for inventing the comic book, jokingly told William to write a comic, and told Elizabeth about it to which she said: "Fine. But make her a woman."

 5. Her appearance served as a muse for William
Christie mentioned that her "Gram's curves", along with Byrne's height and bracelets, inspired Wonder Woman's look. As for the superhero's weapon of choice, the polygraph went on to influence the creation of the Lasso of Truth.
wonder woman elizabeth marston superhero dc comics

Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is now showing at Golden Village cinemas. For last week's #WomanCrushWednesday, click here.