The DC Films Universe made news this week, when it was announced that SNL and Bridesmaids star Kristen Wiig will be starring in Wonder Woman 2, and that she will be playing Wonder Woman nemesis, Cheetah.
Needless to say, fans are having a big reaction to learning of yet another out-of-left-field DC Films casting choice, and that response has been far from universally supportive. However, while there are some pretty obvious concerns that come with having Kristen Wiig play Cheetah, the casting choic may be a more savvy choice for Wonder Woman 2 than many fans initially believe. Here's why.
This Is Cheetah
We don't yet know which version of Cheetah director Patty Jenkins and DC Films intend to use, but the easy money is on the New 52 version from the 2010s which combined a lot of earlier incarnations of the character into a more streamlined origin.
The classic versions of Cheetah (Priscilla Rich and Deborah Domaine) were simple villains in spandex costumes with cat-themed weaponry who either had split personality disorder or brainwashing that made them socialites by day and crazy criminals by night. The later versions (Barbara Ann Minerva) were framed as an archaeologist or myth scientist who got possessed by an ancient relic or ceremony which endowed her with mystical powers modeled after a cheetah.
The point of this that playing Cheetah is actually more like tackling two roles at once: a haughty intellectual and/or socialite who has a werewolf nature lurking under her unassuming surface. And it's for that very reason that Kristen Wiig may be a really smart pick.prevnext
Wiig Gets Weird
The thing about this Kristen Wiig casting that is tripping a lot of fans up is, of course, the continued stigma that a comedic actor can't suddenly make the jump to a blockbuster superhero role. (Guess they haven't met that guy named Michael Keaton.)
However, this may just be a problem of perception: Kristen Wiig has demonstrated that she can cover a wide range of onscreen emotion, pretty well.
Her comedic (Bridesmaids) and even supernatural comedic (Ghostbusters) performances are very well known, but some of her more accomplished dramatic film work (The Skeleton Twins) maybe not so much. But it's in her television work on shows like SNL and Last Man On Earth that we've seen Wiig get downright weird with it. SNL had Wiig playing any number of recurring characters defined by their awkwardness or weirdness; Last Man on Earth gave her a Kathy Bates Misery-style role that added another dimension to the actress's resume: she's good at being creepy.
Wiig's Pamela Brinton character was a socialite who went crazy from isolation and loneliness after the apocalyptic virus, and she had some standout scenes revolving around the idea of having a friendly facade melt away to reveal something more sinister and dangerous. It's not a hard to assume someone in the DC Films / Warner Bros. casting dept. saw that performance and decided it was a great fit for Cheetah. They already know Wiig can pull it off.prevnext
The Rest Is Stunts
Of course, playing the werewolf aspect of Cheetah is just one part of the character - the other part is actually pulling off the physical performance of a villain who is a physical match for Wonder Woman. Some fans may not think that Wiig can pull off something like that - but then again, she doesn't need to.
By now it's a running gag that DC Films have major villains who are largely CGI creations, and a villain like Cheetah will definitely require an extensive mix of both visual effects and practical makeup. Those requirements for physical transformation also mean that the actor behind the makeup will be easier to fill in for, when it comes to the physical demands of the character.
For the actual cheetah-style moments of combat or physicality, almost all of the work will be done by CGI and stunt performers, and the creature effects used to create the character will help make it all play seamlessly onscreen.
Are you willing to give Kristen Wiig a chance as Cheetah in Wonder Woman 2? Let us know in the comments!
The theatrical cut of Justice League is available on Digital HD, and Blu-ray on March 13th. The film will be followed in the DC Extended Universe by Aquaman on December 21st, Shazam on April 5, 2019, Wonder Woman 2 on November 1, 2019, Cyborg in 2020, and Green Lantern Corps in 2020.prev