Wonder Woman is close to getting an arch-enemy.
Deadline reported late yesterday that Warner Bros. and DC Films are in talks with Kristen Wiig for the Wonder Woman 2 role of Barbara Minerva, better known to DC Comics fans as the supervillain known as The Cheetah.
According to the article, Wonder Woman 2 will be set in the 1980s during the Cold War, with Patty Jenkins returning to direct the sequel starring Gal Gadot as the superhero Wonder Woman. The first Wonder Woman film received critical acclaim and brought in over $821 million worldwide.
Wiig, 44, is best known as a sketch performer on the NBC series Saturday Night Live, and for films such as Bridesmaids, The Martian, and the 2016 Ghostbusters remake. Her other films include the Despicable Me films, How to Train Your Dragon, Downsizing, Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, Zoolander 2, The Skeleton Twins, Paul, MacGruber, and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Her other television work includes episodes of The Last Man on Earth, Arrested Development, The Simpsons, Drunk History, Portlandia, SpongeBob SquarePants, The Cleveland Show, and 30 Rock.
Created in 1943 by William Moulton Marston and H.G. Peter, The Cheetah first appeared in Wonder Woman (vol.1) #6 as Priscilla Rich, a Washington, D.C. debutante of aristocratic upbringing who had an overwhelming inferiority complex and suffered from a split personality. After being eclipsed by Wonder Woman at a charity event and failing to kill her during an escapology act, Priscilla retreated to her room and collapsed before her makeup mirror. There she saw an image of a woman dressed like a cheetah and the image commanded her to fashion a costume from a cheetah-skin rug. The Cheetah framed Wonder Woman for a robbery by hiding the money in her apartment and tipping off the police, then set fire to a warehouse Wonder Woman was in, although Wonder Woman escaped. She was presumed dead, but survived thanks to her fireproof costume.
In 1987, writer and artist George Pérez revamped the character in Wonder Woman (vol.2) #7 as Dr. Barbara Minerva, a British archaeologist born as the heiress of a vast fortune in the ancient family site in Nottinghamshire. Ambitious, selfish, and severely neurotic, Barbara developed a passion for archaeology that eventually led her to search out a tribe in Africa who utilized a female guardian with the powers of a cheetah. A band of marauders killed the guardian and most of what remained of her original expedition party. Barbara, with the aid of a priest named Chuma, the caretaker of the ancient plant god Urzkartaga, took her place after being told that she would gain immortality. She received her powers by ingesting a combination of human blood and the berries or leaves of Urzkartaga. Unfortunately for Minerva, the host of the Cheetah persona was intended to be a virgin, but Minerva was not, so her transformations were part curse and part blessing, as she experienced severe pain and physical disability while in her human form and bloodthirsty euphoria while in her cat form.
This version of the Cheetah encountered Wonder Woman when Barbara discovered that Diana possessed the Lasso of Truth. As an archaeologist, Barbara coveted the lasso and hoped to add it to her collection of historical items. She first attempted to do so through trickery, claiming that there was a matching ancient Golden Girdle of Gaea of the same kind from which the lasso was fashioned. Unfortunately, although the scheme proceeded far enough for Minerva to hold the lasso, its magical power to make people tell the truth forced her to confess her true intentions. Diana, profoundly distraught that she would be so treacherous, took back the lasso. Minerva resorted to attacking the Amazon as the Cheetah in order to rob her of the lasso. Their initial battle ended with inconclusive results, with Diana's friend Julia Kapatelis shooting the Cheetah and forcing her to retreat.
The Cheetah's origin was reworked in 2016 with continuity changes made with DC Rebirth. In this version, Barbara Ann Cavendish enjoyed mythology as a young girl and showed an affinity for language. Her father disparaged her interest in myth, deriding it as childish, but her passion for myth and legend remained and as an adult, she took her late mother's maiden name of Minerva. By age 26, she had mastered seven languages and earned two PhD's in archaeology. On a dig in the Ukraine, she discovered proof of the existence of the Amazons, but the dig site collapsed. Minerva was able to take photos before the collapse and followed her findings to the Black Sea, only to find what she believed was an empty island. After Princess Diana of the Amazons returned US Navy SEAL Steve Trevor to the United States, the Navy called Dr. Minerva to translate Diana's language. Minerva became close friends with Diana and Lt. Etta Candy, and taught Diana English as well as other languages. After Ares attacked the naval base and several of the Olympian Gods (in the forms of animals) assisted Diana in Ares' defeat, Minerva became even more obsessed with the divine. Seeking out proof of other deities, Minerva learned of Urzkartaga and obtained funding for an expedition to the fictional African nation of Bwunda from Veronica Cale. Minerva was unaware that Cale was acting on behalf of the sons of Ares, Deimos and Phobos, who believed that by turning Minerva into a demigod, she would be able to locate Themyscira for them. In case of emergency, Diana provided Minerva with a Wayne Enterprises GPS signaling device, which Doctor Cyber remotely disabled. As a result, Wonder Woman was unable to prevent Barbara from being wed to Urzkartaga and becoming the Cheetah. Blaming Diana for her forced transformation and the cannibalistic urges that came with it, Cheetah joined Cale's Godwatch group.
This will be the first time The Cheetah will appear in live-action, although the character has appeared in various animated projects, including Challenge of the Super Friends (voiced by Marlene Aragon), Justice League and Justice League Unlimited (voiced by Sheryl Lee Ralph), Batman: The Brave and the Bold (voiced by Morena Baccarin), Justice League: Doom (voiced by Claudia Black), DC Super Hero Girls (voiced by Ashley Eckstein), JLA Adventures: Trapped in Time (voiced by Erica Luttrell), Batman Unlimited: Animal Instincts (voiced by Laura Bailey), and Legion DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Attack of the Legion of Doom (voiced by Cree Summer).
Wonder Woman 2 is currently expected to arrive in theaters on November 1, 2019.