It is a sign of how terribly conventional Hollywood can be that the possible “Wonder Woman 2” casting of Kristen Wiig — she, the actress of noted timing and range and comedic pathos — is viewed by industry observers as such an out-of-the-box choice.
Now, if another actress of similar age and complexion — say, Amy Adams or Jessica Chastain — were in negotiations to play a Wonder Woman villain, Hollywood watchers would barely bat an eye. But something about Wiig’s elite comedic chops seems to make it hard for less flexible minds to see just how brilliant she could be as a DC movie antagonist.
Deadline reported Wednesday that Wiig was in talks with the filmmakers to play Cheetah, the villain of several incarnations over the decades in the comic books, sometimes with the turned-nose air of a society snob.
The news was immediately hailed as some out-of-left-field choice, but this wasn’t exactly as if Warner Bros. and DC had just sought Omarosa or Miley Cyrus to play Diana Prince’s fascinating foil.
Wiig has more than proved the wide parameters of her talent, including in “The Skeleton Twins” and “Welcome to Me.” The “Bridesmaids” co-writer and star might be best known for her gift with comedically manic characters, but she also has a knack with the darker tinges of sadness and pain and loss.
Yet what makes this an especially interesting choice is the range of cinematic influences that moves director Patty Jenkins, whose vision gave the extended DC Comics universe its first and only critical hit, as well as an $822 million global box-office take.
Ahead of the release of “Wonder Woman,” Jenkins told The Washington Post that she was drawing inspiration from ’40s screwball comedies, as well as ’80s action-adventure movies, like the Indiana Jones series.
Given that, it’s particularly worth noting that “Wonder Woman 2” will reportedly move up the time frame, from the World War I era of the franchise’s first film to an ’80s Cold War setting.
Jenkins clearly appreciates actresses like Karen Allen, who bring a quick-witted charm and ready-for-action charisma to their performances.
As the antagonizing Cheetah, Wiig would be following in a line of gifted actors who can deliver dark comic pathos in a superhero world, including Alfred Molina, Michael Keaton and the late Heath Ledger.
“Wonder Woman” helped change the game for solo female superheroes on screen. With Wiig, “Wonder Woman 2” could deliver one of the best villainous women in superhero movies.