Cheetah is about to be introduced to audiences around the world. Kristen Wiig has reportedly been cast as the villain in Wonder Woman 2. She’s perfect for the part. The kind of actress who can easily portray a woman who becomes a human/cheetah hybrid. But that’s not all there is to the character. She’s one of DC’s oldest villains; she’s arguably the villain most synonymous with Wonder Woman. Ares has been her opposite most recently, but do you remember who was the Legion of Doom’s answer to Wonder Woman on the Super Friends?
None other than Cheetah.
At first, it was because she was a fierce warrior who was able to go toe to toe with Diana. But the character has evolved over the years to become one of the most complex characters DC has to offer, despite her simple name and appearance. Cheetah will be one of the many reasons to look forward to Wonder Woman 2. To make sure you’re up to date, here’s five facts to help bolster your knowledge of the character!
1. Cheetah was created in 1943 by William Moulton Marston, the creator of Wonder Woman
She isn’t just old, Cheetah is one of DC’s oldest characters. She’s almost as old as Wonder Woman herself. Created in 1943, she debuted in Wonder Woman #6 under the name Priscilla Rich. As you can plainly see, she’s always been a physical villain for Diana. Someone whose athletics, poise, and cat-like reflexes often make her more than a match for one of the greatest warriors on the planet.
2. She didn’t have superpowers until 1987
Cheetah has a unique problem. She looks like a cat. An unfortunate happening that ended up making her a pretty good villain. But how did she first get those powers? It turns out she didn’t get those powers until well down the line. The first Cheetah, Priscilla Rich, was just a rich debutante in an enhanced suit who then passed the legacy onto her niece. It wasn’t until Barbara Ann Minerva was introduced in 1987 by comic genius George Perez that she became the hybrid creature fans know and love.
3. Her powers have multiple origins
In 1987, Barbara Ann Minerva’s powers came from a plant god whom she sought out when trying to find the answer to immortality. But that isn’t the only origin for her powers and appearance. The Justice League: Animated Series depicted her as a geneticist who had a few issues with gene-splicing. An interesting take that kept up more of the “mad scientist” approach that made the animated show so fun. In her most recent interpretation, by Greg Rucka in his Wonder Woman: Rebirth run, the character returned to being “cursed” instead of “spliced.”
4. There have been four different “Cheetah’s”
Priscilla Rich was the first name of the first Cheetah created by Marston, but the character has had quite a few face-lifts since then. Deborah Domaine was Rich’s niece who was brainwashed into becoming the second Cheetah. Then came the most famous of them all: Barbara Ann Minerva. A British archaeologist who becomes cursed with the powers of the god Urzkartaga. Minerva will most likely be the character Wiig would depict. The final one? A man be the name of Sebastian Ballesteros who steals Minerva’s powers for a brief period of time.
5. Cheetah was a member of the Suicide Squad!
Near the end of The New 52, writer Sean Ryan was tasked with introducing the world to a new Suicide Squad. But, as you can see the team didn’t exactly resemble the team that would eventually come to the big screen. Instead, this team featured a few unique baddies who were brand new to the team: including Cheetah. Unfortunately, the series didn’t last very long. It was a mixed bag that didn’t become the hit that DC Comics wanted. But Cheetah is an incredibly fierce warrior who can take on the likes of Wonder Woman. There are plenty of villains who should join Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad, but Barbara Ann Minerva could be a perfect addition to the team.