I’ve got a broad, but shallow knowledge about comic book characters which means that I often have to investigate lesser known (to me) characters. When I heard about Kristen Wiig joining the cast of the next Wonder Woman film, I immediately I went to google to find out more about this character. The original Cheetah, Pricilla Rich, is definitely a character I could see Wiig embodying:
The first woman to become the Cheetah, in Wonder Woman #6 (October 1943), is Priscilla Rich, a 1940s-era blonde Washington, D.C. debutante of aristocratic upbringing who also has an overwhelming inferiority complex and suffers from a split personality and self-importance.
Turns out though, Wiig will be playing the third Cheetah, Barbara Ann Minerva, a British archaeologist and heiress to a fortune:
Ambitious, selfish, and severely neurotic, Barbara develops a passion for archaeology that eventually led her to search out a tribe in Africa who utilizes a female guardian with the powers of a cheetah. A band of marauders kill the guardian and most of what remained of her original expedition party. Barbara, with the aid of the priest, Chuma, the caretaker of the ancient plant god Urzkartaga, takes her place after being told that she would gain immortality. Her powers are conferred to her by ingesting a combination of human blood and the berries or leaves of Urzkartaga. Unfortunately for Minerva, the host of the Cheetah persona is intended to be a virgin. Minerva is not, however, so her transformations were part curse and part blessing, as she experiences severe pain and physical disability while in her human form and bloodthirsty euphoria while in her cat form.
In the comics, Cheetah comes up against Wonder Woman because she covets the Lasso of Truth and wants to add it to her collection of rare historical items. We will have to see if this same conflict, set against the backdrop of the 1980’s Cold War era, will be Cheetah’s introduction to the big screen.