We should probably all embrace the fact that the Justice League will be dominating pop culture conversation for the foreseeable future, given that its first live-action, big screen foray is about to debut in theatres around the world. That being the case, and with superhero movie audiences being legendarily impatient, the cast is already being questioned as to what we might see in Justice League 2 – if and when the sequel is announced.
While being interviewed by the Toronto Sun about the villains they would like to see in the next outing, Ezra Miller opted for the almost predictable answer of the Injustice League. Gal Gadot, on the other hand, gave a more Wonder Woman-centric response, and reaffirmed her desire to fight the Amazon Warrior’s arch-nemesis, Cheetah (who has also featured in Injustice League), on the big screen.
“There’s so many good villains in the DC universe, but I would love to fight Cheetah. She’s a girl and that could be very interesting.”
Now, while the interviewer was specifically asking about Justice League 2, the enormous success of Wonder Woman earlier this year led to increasingly loud calls for Wonder Woman 2 to feature the character of Cheetah but, frankly, there’s no reason why she couldn’t appear in both in some capacity – in much the same way that The Joker and Lex Luthor are both recurring nemeses.
In the comic book source material, Cheetah has a history almost as lengthy as that of Wonder Woman herself. Created by William Moulton Marston and H.G Peter, she first appeared in Wonder Woman #6 in 1943, in the first of four incarnations. In these early days, Cheetah was first socialite Priscilla Rich, and then her niece, Deborah Domaine. While both women were enemies of Wonder Woman, neither had any superpowers of which to speak.
In Wonder Woman Vol 2, in 1987, the Cheetah mantle fell to Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva – and it’s perhaps this version that remains most famous. Originally, Dr. Minerva was an archaeologist who discovered an African tribe with a Guardian that possessed the power of a Cheetah. When the Guardian was killed, Minerva voluntarily assumed the role in order to gain those powers – but she suffered a different reaction to the process, and had to live with those powers while being in constant pain.
While the Cheetah character was briefly assumed by Sebastian Ballesteros in 2001, it was the Minerva version to which DC returned when storylines were rebooted for the New 52 and Rebirth phases, respectively. Each new iteration retains Minerva’s archaeological expertise, but plays with the nature and acquisition of her Cheetah superpowers. She remains a leading Wonder Woman villain, though, and should certainly have a recurring spot in the DC Extended Universe – not least because Wonder Woman’s day job in the franchise is dealing with ancient artefacts.
Gal Gadot’s comment here is also interesting for the fact that she highlights the positive aspect of Wonder Woman being depicted fighting another woman. Thus far in the franchise, she’s faced only male villains and, Hollywood being what it is, there remains a real risk going forward that her fights will constantly be battles of the sexes. Having Wonder Woman as a leading character in the film series provides the perfect opportunity to shake up that tedious trend, and hopefully, Warner Bros. and DC will seize upon that chance and deliver a depiction of Cheetah – be it in Wonder Woman 2, Justice League 2, or both.