Kristen Wiig Wonder Woman: 1984 swings for the fences. The film is both a return of Gal Gadot’s Diana Prince and a nostalgic look at how lonely her life is in the second installment of DC’s current franchise.
Despite his fate at the end of the first film, Chris Pine’s Steve Trevor reappears, plunging the picture into a romantic reunion and unrequited love territory.
Simultaneously, Pedro Pascal’s ruthless oil mogul Maxwell Lord descends into insanity and succumbs to his ambition for power, leading the US, still embroiled in the Cold War, into all-out nuclear war.
What we get is a mix of romance Kristen Wiig Wonder Woman
What we get is a mix of romance, ’80s period drama, and clumsy global political satire. Oh, and it’s a superhero film as well.
However, in its attempt to be all of these things at once, WW84 neglects to highlight what may have been the film’s most compelling feature: Kristen Wiig Wonder Woman diabolical portrayal as Barbara Minerva, a.k.a. Cheetah.
In the first and second parts of the film, the renowned comic book villain gets some screen time, allowing Wiig to show off her command of social awkwardness and cringe comedy as we meet the bookish Barbara.
She and Diana are coworkers at the Smithsonian, and after their first meeting, they instantly became friends.
The film, however, mainly forgets about Barbara once Barbara and Diana exchange wishes that offer Barbara the superhero strength and sex appeal she envies in her new friend (and return Diana’s boyfriend). She is reduced to a minor antagonist, a footnote in the greater narrative.
Barbara’s limited screen time prevents us from learning more about what makes her tick, such as how her transformation from a shy scientist to a sultry femme fatale affects her psyche. Perhaps the film hinted at its hand from the start.
we never learn anything about Barbara other than that she’s nerdy, lonely, and would give anything to be fashionable, popular, and admired. However, this superficial rendition is a waste of a character who is Kristen Wiig Wonder Woman’s complex and fascinating arch-enemy in the comic books.
Like other supervillains such as the Joker, Lex Luthor, Magneto, and others, Cheetah is admired and feared for having her own set of characteristics and weaknesses – she’s more than just “bad.” The beauty of these awful individuals is that, while we may disagree with them, we can completely get why they act the way they do and use them as a springboard to consider our blunders and tragedies.
A shallow Cheetah isn’t merely a let-down for the audience. It undervalues Kristen Wiig Wonder Woman herself.
What makes Cheetah a cheetah?
Barbara is an insecure, bookish geek at the start of the movie. Many superhero films, particularly female villains, rely on the “lonely single lady” cliche to develop their villains, such as Catwoman in Batman Returns, Poison Ivy in Batman & Robin, and even Harley Quinn of Suicide Squad and Birds of Prey fame.
However, one fault in some of these depictions is that the nerdy-to-sexy makeover is focused on looks rather than character attributes. The character’s intelligence, feelings, aspirations, and inner life are all left untouched due to these modifications.
Barbara’s happiness is primarily decided by how she looks in WW84, demonstrating this lack of curiosity. She moves from being self-conscious to wearing skin-tight clothing and, without much explanation, ends the film as an anthropomorphic cheetah. And her bizarre transformation reveals a lot about how the film sees her.
Barbara’s metamorphosis into Cheetah in the comic books is messy and strange, as are many humorous book origin stories. Barbara’s narrative has been retold several times, but it usually involves a deity named Urzkartaga bestowing godlike powers on her; Barbara either actively seeks these powers or is cursed with them against her choice.
While these stories can be uncomfortable to read now (many older comic book stories don’t age well because of outdated, casually sexist views) and strange (one version of Barbara’s origin storey claims that her transformation to Cheetah goes sideways because she isn’t a virgin, condemning her to a life of pain in human form), they do at least give us more information about the character, what these new demigod-liasons are up to.
Granted, diving into the complications of adding another god to the mix and how that affects Barbara’s progression, Urzkartaga may have been too complicated for a screenplay. But what we received in WW84 was almost devoid of depth: Barbara is driven solely by her need to be attractive, strong, and desired.
Barbara’s personal life in WW84, based on what little we know about her, doesn’t appear to be that horrible. She’s intelligent and works at a reputable museum. On her way home from work, she usually brings food for a homeless man.
The toughest part about being Barbara is that she doesn’t seem to attract the attention of the men she likes. She’s as happy as she’s ever been when she gets her initial powers from the mystical dream stone that the FBI hands over to her for inspection.
She’s lot less lonely and much more appreciated by her colleagues. But, other from forgetting to feed her homeless companion and sometimes being a little too physically violent in public, we don’t see how this so-called “monkey’s paw” negatively impacts her life.
It also doesn’t work as a power fantasy because we don’t know how truly horrible or good Barbara’s life was before her metamorphosis. It would have been more dramatic if WW84 had emphasised how, despite her intelligence, Barbara has been neglected for promotions at work, for example, we only get hints of how everyone disregards her. Even a brief description of how Barbara became interested in jewels and the ancient world would have added to the film’s overall appeal.
The lack of foregrounding hampers barbara’s ultimate transition into Cheetah. Barbara transforms into a Cheetah because she needs to stop Kristen Wiig Wonder Woman from undoing all of the wishes from the wish-granting rock, and even though she kicked Wonder Woman’s ass in her current form, she may need to transform into Cheetah — an “apex predator,” she tells Lord — to eventually defeat her. I suppose. What are the chances?
Even if this charitable read is the end of it, there isn’t a single scene in which Barbara considers her lost humanity or considers what it means to become a hairy cat-human.
We don’t even get to watch the part where she transforms into a cat! Despite not expressing any desire to transform into a cat before arriving covered in fur during the film’s climax, she may enjoy her new form. Maybe she despises this profession but is compelled to continue as a strange, faintly hot cat-person since it is more agile than her human body.
Either of these narrative possibilities would be compelling, and it’s a shame we didn’t get a glimpse of Barbara’s psychological state or inner life in WW84.
Cheetah’s lack of growth also harms wonder Woman’s depth.
The most disappointing aspect of the film’s depiction of Cheetah is that it might have been used to highlight Wonder Woman’s shortcomings and heroics.
During the Amazonian CrossFit games at Themyscira in the opening montage, a young Diana is shown competing against Amazons in their prime who are older, taller, wiser, stronger, and faster than her. Despite this, she begins to beat each of them in an Ironman-style race, thanks to her demigod blood and cleverness.
But bad luck throws her off her game. Even though she recovers admirably and comes close to winning the competition, Antiope, the Amazon general who also mentors Diana, disqualifies her. Instead, Diana throws a tantrum while watching another Amazon triumph.
This sequence was one of my favorites since it demonstrated that Diana has an ego despite her good intentions and desire to protect others. She’s obsessed with winning and is constantly seeking acceptance, as filmmaker Patty Jenkins hints in the first film. Diana is seen smirking as she kicks every Amazon ass, including Antiope herself, in a similar training montage from the original.
Diana looks up at her mother Hippolyta as she defeats each one, as if demonstrating she’s the best will elicit some kind of good response. She craves her mother’s approval, which has led to Diana’s main weakness as an adult: she despises losing.
Diana’s ambition to be the best could have bubbled up as Barbara became stronger and shown the same powers as Diana, demonstrating that, despite being a demigod, she was just like the rest of us.
It would be more enticing if Diana’s feud with Barbara wasn’t just about stopping Maxwell Lord and righting the wrongs of the magical rock, but also about Diana’s inability to accept second place. Is she trying to help her friend or is she afraid of her? Perhaps both.
If only Barbara had been present instead of Maxwell Lord, Diana’s struggle between becoming a deity and her love for Steve Trevor would have been more uncomfortable.
By removing Lord from the novel totally, more time could have been spent on Barbara and Diana’s stories, giving them more emotional depth and allowing them to fill out their parallel themes of loneliness, ego, admiration, and love. You know, everything that Lord got throughout the movie.
Diana battling with her own weaknesses and humanity is more compelling to me than conquering a villain, as is often the case in comic books.
Her superhuman strength, invulnerability, and superspeed don’t mean she’ll always be superior than the rest of us. Diana is a hero because she overcame her ego and anchored her power with duty. It’s a bad we’ll never get to see that voyage, but if we’re lucky, we could get to see it play out in the recently confirmed third film — perhaps one in which Barbara gets her due as Cheetah.
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