Kristen Wiig playing the villain in Wonder Woman 2 may be a surprise, but it would be hard to find a better choice for Cheetah. The reasons fans have to be thrown are obvious: Wiig is best known as a comedy star, which is as far from a superhero blockbuster villain as an actor can get. But not long after the first rumors of Wiig being director Patty Jenkins’s top choice, the casting became official. Cheetah will be the villain of Wonder Woman 2, and a Saturday Night Live alum will be bringing her to life.
The casting, as shocking as it may be at first, is one of the first official details concerning Wonder Woman‘s sequel. Beyond Jenkins promising that Wonder Woman 2 will be totally different from Diana’s origin story, development has been kept under wraps. Now that star Gal Gadot will officially be doing battle against a superstrong cheetah/human hybrid played by the star of Bridesmaids, fans know just HOW different. But believe us, there is reason to be even more excited than fans were the first time around.
Questions still remain beyond Wiig being cast as Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva a.k.a. Cheetah (assuming the film will be adapting the actual Cheetah, not a jealous thief who frames Diana for robbery). It’s definitely possible that Cheetah won’t be Wonder Woman 2‘s only villain, considering the mystical forces at play in turning a woman into a were-cheetah. But in recruiting Wiig to a DC villain role that could have gone in a troubling direction, the filmmakers have added a promising piece to this project.
Are you one of the skeptics doubting that this is the right pick for Cheetah? Then allow us to tell you Why Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah Casting Is Perfect.
This Page: How Cheetah Can Fix Wonder Woman’s Villain Problem
Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah Can Fix Wonder Woman’s Biggest Problem
The most promising aspect of Kristen Wiig’s casting may actually be in the human side of her character, but for now, let’s deal with the obvious. From a “big picture” standpoint, the first reports that Wonder Woman 2 would use a villain like Cheetah seemed a step in the right direction. Where most critics and audiences left Diana’s origin movie satisfied, the most common criticism focused on the disappointing ending fight with Ares. It checked the boxes for a standard, CG-fueled superhero finale – but seemed a strange conclusion, given how different the rest of the film tried to be.
Since then Patty Jenkins explained the Ares fight, but the problem remains. For a heroine and story focused so intently on family bonds, compassion, and a belief in the best of mankind, capping it all off with a battle between demigods lost something along the way. With a villain like Cheetah, however, the love given so freely by Wonder Woman to the men and women she calls friends might actually lead to the ultimate showdown.
That’s assuming that Patty Jenkins and her team go with the modern, current version of Cheetah’s story, in which Barbara Ann Minerva is not a cruel, jealous monster, but a victim of a crueler god than any Diana honored. Cheetah was a woman and friend in distress, lending greater thematic weight to Diana’s mission of healing the wounds inflicted by the cruelty of man. Fear not, fans of the classic versions of Cheetah: this one was still a fur-covered, ferocious cross between femme fatale and a wild animal.
How Will Wonder Woman 2 Realize Cheetah?
It didn’t take long for the first artwork of Kristen Wiig as Cheetah to surface (BossLogic‘s design seen below), showing what the Bridesmaids star could look like with fur and feline features. Of course, the truth is… nobody has any idea what the movie version of Cheetah will look like. It goes without saying given the rise in superhero movie spectacle (and Black Panther‘s troubling special effects fresh in our minds) that the character’s designs will rely heavily on digital effects, practical or digital prosthetics, and likely completely-digital character models. Fight choreography and stunt doubles can go a long way, but a cheetah-speed human is still mainly fantasy.
Yet the casting of Kristen Wiig has churned up a familiar wave of conversations concerning her physical qualifications for the role (fans have already forgotten how wrong they were about Gal Gadot’s body, apparently). It’s as good a time as any to remind fans that everyone cast in a superhero or supervillain role seems destined for a training or fitness regime ahead of shooting, and Wiig may be no different. Or the costume could make Cheetah appear exactly as Jenkins wishes, and demand only that Wiig bring the energy and endurance needed for the work.
Just because Gal Gadot is stepping up her Wonder Woman workouts, that doesn’t mean Wiig – or whoever else might have been in the running – also needs to pack on pounds of muscle. Practically speaking, Cheetah won’t be flexing Diana to death, or going twelve rounds in a boxing ring. She is fast, agile, fierce, and famous for her snarling facial features. If watching Kristen Wiig’s film and TV appearances didn’t prove her physicality is one of her strongest traits, then Google her interpretive dance to Sia’s “Chandelier” that stunned those watching The 2015 Grammys.
They were stunned because Wiig’s dancing… wasn’t funny. Her comedy chops are what made her famous, not giving an emotional performance alongside Dance Moms prodigy Maddie Ziegler (we can only assume Jenkins caught it as well). Although it can’t be called a formal “audition” since the first Wonder Woman hadn’t even been made by then, it’s all the evidence those on the fence will need.
Kristen Wiig’s roster of SNL characters – and a career best turn in dramedy The Skeleton Twins – proves creating a tortured cat-human hybrid is well within her abilities. But what will truly prove she’s the perfect casting choice is the other half of her role. The heart of the villain, perfectly tailored to be defeated (saved?) by Diana without sacrificing the film’s story to do it.
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