The Villains Of ‘Wonder Woman 1984’ – Maxwell Lord & Cheetah
Wonder Woman 1984 is nearly upon us and with that of course comes chatter about the film itself. Now, while we’ve had a plethora of superhero-based films the past few years – 2017’s Wonder Woman stood out amongst the rest for many reasons – including the fact that it was the first female-led superhero film that graced our screens in years and the first that was part of the DCEU.
But as we know, many of these films cannot be put onto a pedestal of greatness if the movie isn’t as good as its villains. In Wonder Woman 1984, we have some of the best villains from Wonder Woman’s “rogues gallery”. In Justice League #22 (2013) Wonder Woman said, “There’s a reason I don’t have a list of villains as long as Bruce’s, Barry’s, or even yours. When I deal with them, I deal with them.” We see that she did just that in the first film with Ludendorff, Doctor Poison and her half-brother, Ares, but the Amazonian warrior is in for something else entirely with the likes of Max Lord and Cheetah.
Now, without further ado, let’s get to know the antagonists of Wonder Woman 1984.
Comic book version: First appearing in Wonder Woman (vol. 2) #8 in 1987, Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva is friend to Diana Prince but once she turns into Cheetah, she becomes one of the Princess of Themyscira’s greatest (and oldest) foes. Born the heiress to a vast fortune, the archaeologist was on a mission to discover a lost city when she is surrounded by the Urzkartagans and their high priest, Chuma. After saving Chuma and having the the ritual of the cheetah god explained to her, Minerva wants her own chance at power and immortality, and demands that the ritual be performed on her. Chuma explains that it requires a blood sacrifice and so, Minerva kills her colleague. Some days after the ritual is complete, Minerva is transformed to the powerful supervillain known as Cheetah.
Wonder Woman 1984 version: As I said in my review for Wonder Woman 1984, I felt as though the version of Cheetah we see in the film (aptly played by Kristen Wiig), is an amalgamation of Dr. Barbara Minerva (mentioned above) and the first Cheetah seen on the pages of a Wonder Woman comic book back in 1943, Priscilla Rich. Certain liberties are taken in terms of Minerva’s character development throughout the film and Wiig does a great job at making them work. In the comics, Rich was a popular debutante, and while that is not the case for Wiig’s version of the character, the similarities lie in how she views Wonder Woman. Wiig’s Minerva sees Diana as this strong, confident woman that everyone wants to be around and that everyone wants to be like. This is very much in line with Rich’s views of Wonder Woman and why Rich’s adoration is short-lived and eventually turns into jealousy.
Comic book version: Maxwell Lord made his first appearance the same year as Barbara Ann Minerva a.k.a. Cheetah in 1987. However, he first met Diana Prince as part of the Justice League in Justice League #1 and has been a thorn in the Amazon’s side ever since. After the Invasion crossover. Lord was one of many humans to gain supernatural abilities and his with the newfound power of mind control. Fast forward to the events of Infinite Crisis and you get one of the most compelling and divisive Wonder Woman plot lines, and it also happens to be one of the biggest storylines between the pair. After Lord uses his powers to influence Superman’s mind, he attacks and nearly kills fellow Leaguer, Batman. In addition, Wonder Woman narrowly escapes Superman’s wrath and she seeks out Lord, tying him up with the lasso of truth. She tells him to stop what he is doing and continues to refuse, telling her that the only way he can be stopped is for her to kill him. Wonder Woman does just that, snapping Lord’s neck – but unbeknownst to her, it is broadcast to the world with the use of Batman’s Brother Eye project.
Wonder Woman 1984 version: In the upcoming film, the role of Max Lord is played by Pedro Pascal. He is a businessman who is in the business of wanting more; clearly playing into the excess which was the ’80s. Similar to Cheetah, Lord in Wonder Woman 1984 is not an exact copy of his comic book counterpart. There are differences to his story that viewers will either enjoy or perhaps dislike (depending on how into the comic character you are). Regardless, Pascal does a superb job in bringing the villain to life. He plays the character with just the right amount of camp (which one would expect from an ’80s villain) and he fully commits to anything that his character does throughout the film which makes for a very compelling, and dastardly villain.