Will someone hand over the reins to Patty Jenkins already? So far, the mastermind behind DC’s last blockbuster, Wonder Woman, has taken all the right decisions; whether it’s the treatment of an almost virgin plot or utilizing her lead star’s exotic roots to initiate Diana Prince’s journey through mankind.
The revival of the Wonder Woman saga seems to be working perfectly for Warner Bros, and if anything, the future of this franchise might be the only hope for the survival of their ambitious, interconnected comic book universe – DCEU. Keeping all this in mind, the recent addition of Kristen Wiig in a villainous role opposite Gal Gadot’s Amazon warrior, was perhaps not the casting decision most DC fans were anticipating.
“Not happy that #KristenWiig will play villain Cheetah in #WonderWoman sequel Couldn’t they find a real actress? Booooo….! #DCEU,” a fan tweeted.
As a second critic chimed in, writing, “I remember questioning @Krystenritter as @JessicaJones & DAMN was I wrong, so no way in Hell will I question @PattyJenks choice of #KristenWiig in @WonderWomanFilm 2!!! #WomanPower”
Trust me though, this is going to be the big, genius move that strikes gold for the DC/WB camp vis-à-vis their much superior and popular Marvel counterpart.
Before I give you a lowdown on what makes Wiig a purrfect fit to play Cheetah, Wonder Woman’s archnemesis, the Joker to her Batman, here’s what you must know about the iconic feline character.
Created by William Moulton Marston – who is also responsible for introducing Diana to the world along with co-creator H.G. Peter – Cheetah’s origin is as old as Wonder Woman herself (1941 – 1943). However, the oldest incarnation of this spotted antagonist might not be it’s most popular rendition and it’s highly unlikely that Wonder Woman 2 would introduce her either.
Priscilla Rich: Introduced in 1943 October, Rich, a member of Washington’s aristocratic circle, was the first DC character to don the Cheetah attire. Her transition from a person with a split personality disorder to a femme fatale can be best explained with a Green Goblinesque reference (remember, from your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) – meaning Rich is directed towards her destiny by her own mirror image, following an intense tête-à-tête.
Deborah Domaine: An equally archaic and easily forgettable rendition of the villain as her predecessor, Domaine happens to be the brainwashed niece of Rich, who is taken under the wings of Kobra’s operatives after her aunt’s death. In the light of her new role, however, the ecology-activist-turned-foe frequently locks horns with the Amazonian.
Sebastian Ballesteros: The Argentine businessman was the fourth and the only male incarnation of the DC villain. And the reason his mention comes before the widely-known third portrayal of Cheetah is because Ballesteros’s character was eventually reduced to a mere alias for Cheetah, following DC Comics’ “New 52” reboot in 2011.
Barbara Ann Minerva: Undoubtedly, the most successful rendition of the villain, Minerva was introduced as Cheetah much later in 1987, but that didn’t stop her from evolving into the worthy adversary that Wonder Woman would confront in many of her later endeavors.
Originally appearing in the comics as a British archaeologist, prepared to go to unimaginable lengths to secure her artifacts; Miverva’s transformation into Cheetah takes place after a series of dramatic events. In her quest for supernatural powers, the heiress lands in Africa, where she trades her soul with Urzkartaga, an ancient plant god, to become the Cheetah.
Indeed, this version of the comic’s history involves quite a bit of obsolete references, for instance, the trip to Africa in search of the legendary Urzkartagan city. But the subsequent narrative, that involves Minerva becoming obsessed with Diana’s origin, her Themysciran roots and the unique possessions of the Amazons; make for the perfect fodder for superhero flicks.
Since Minerva’s iteration was also a huge hit amongst fans, chances are Wiig could take after the British archaeologist’s portrayal of Cheetah. This means a lot of CGI to engineer a costume that’s on par with modern tech and an obsession on part of Wiig’s character, especially when it comes to Diana’s weapons from Theyscira – like the Lasso of Truth.
So why did DC choose Wiig, the wisecracker, to play a fierce villain?
Many a famous comedian in Hollywood have often linked comedy with great sadness or anger – which is in the words of Charlie Chaplin, “To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it!” While this doesn’t explain Wiig’s casting as Wonder Woman 2’s villain, or how it wasn’t a chance, but a well-calculated move; it does indicate a consistent pattern of comedians making great villains.
From Robin Williams’ portrayal of a disturbing photo developer, Seymour Parrish, in ‘One Hour Photo’ to actor Tim Curry’s iconic role as Pennywise, the clown in IT; history has it that those who can crack a chuckle can also be the very vision of villainy, sending chills down your spine.
In fact, the idea of a funny man/woman playing the big baddies would perhaps resonate with fans of Jim Carrey, who had quite a run as The Riddle in Batman Forever. Aside from her comic background working in favor of the Saturday Night Live alum, it appears to be in the best interests of DC to cast an actor (Wiig) of contrasting character with regards to their chief savior (Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman).
Ultimately, Wiig starring as the archenemy of Wonder Woman proves that DC, despite its few hits and misses, could be creating a roster of villains – including the likes of Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke and Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor – formidable enough for a second Justice League team-up.