Cheetah is one of those characters that a lot of nerds and industry professionals say is “iconic” but has honestly not been given that much attention ever since her first appearance. You know, the property has become one of the victims of being namedropped for nerd cred, which is the most disgusting and pathetic kind of cred you can get.
Now, I don’t know what’s going to happen in the second Wonder Woman movie, but I do hope they finally make use of this property in order to give it the heft being “iconic” deserves. Of course, there are a lot of naysayers out there who think that the Cheetah character is one of the stupidest arch-nemeses to have ever graced the pages of a funny book, and I really don’t think that’s a fair assessment.
“But she’s a fucking woman with claws and cat powers going up against an Amazon demigoddess,” you say, and you’re right. But, keep in mind that if you think Cheetah is a stupid foil for Wonder Woman while the Joker is great for Batman, then you’re probably a sexist douchebag, a dumbass douchebag, or both! If you think that this feline villain has no right to do anything with Diana, then what in the flying f*ck does a clown have to do with a bat?
And if you say that both the Joker and Batman are, as nerds love to point out in their croaky voices, “two sides of the same coin, since they’re both insane,” then you should at least have the capacity to understand that the same goes for Wonder Woman and Cheetah: they’re both goddesses, after all.
Now, there have been a lot of iterations of the Cheetah property over DC’s long history, but perhaps the most memorable and as close to being iconic as we can get is during Len Wein and George Perez’s run on the Wonder Woman title. Here, they introduced the template for the Cheetah character, which will then be constantly used by other writers to handle the character up to this day. And I’m not just talking about the comics. Perhaps one of the prime examples of this portrayal can be seen in DC’s animated universe, back during the days of Justice League and Justice League Unlimited.
So, who in hell is Cheetah, anyway? Well, the character’s alter-ego is named Dr. Barbara Ann Minerva, and she was an archeologist who chanced upon a sacred ritual in one of her expeditions. Some gunshots, murder, and ritualistic sacrifices later, she becomes the avatar of an African cheetah god. So, there you go.
First appearing on the pages of Wonder Woman #7 in the 80s and created by both Len Wein and George Perez, the character has become a regular in DC’s roster, albeit almost always being overshadowed by more profitable properties like Joker or Lex Luthor.
Hopefully, something gets done about this. But, given DC and Warner Bros.’ track record, I won’t be holding my breath.