Barbara Minerva, better known as Cheetah, is one of Wonder Woman’s longtime foes. In the comics, Barbara is an archaeologist and professor interested in the Amazons’ civilization. She meets Diana soon after Diana arrives in the United States, thanks to Etta Candy, who contacts Barbara to act as a translator for Diana’s unique dialect. Diana and Barbara become friends, but their friendship turns sour after Barbara goes on an expedition to investigate the ancient god Urzkartaga. Urzkartaga captures Barbara, who agrees by the promise of immortality to be his tribe’s new guardian. She drinks a potion that turns her into a feline human complete with orange skin, black spots, claws, and a tail.
Although Wonder Woman 1984 revamps this origin story considerably, it keeps certain elements, notably the spark of friendship between the two. This time around, Barbara (Kristen Wiig) is a gawky geologist (among other specialties) who is in awe of Diana’s beauty, strength, and ability to walk in cheetah-print heels. After the FBI asks the Smithsonian to identify certain relics, one of which turns out to be a wish-granting stone, Barbara wishes she could be just like Diana, inadvertently gaining super speed, strength, and agility. Like the short story “The Monkey’s Paw,” the wishes involve consequences, but Barbara won’t renounce her wish, determined never to be an awkward doormat again.