It took three years, but Wonder Woman 1984 — the DC Comics sequel to 2017’s blockbuster Wonder Woman — was finally released at the tail end of 2020. Many of the original cast and crew from the first film returned for Wonder Woman 1984, including director Patty Jenkins, actor Gal Gadot as the eponymous superhero, and Chris Pine as Wonder Woman’s love interest. But there is one very prominent new character in this ninth film of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) that’s being slammed by critics for the character’s appearance. Despite Wonder Woman 1984‘s multi-million-dollar production budget, upset fans are claiming that DC might have cut a few corners on this new character’s CGI.
Kristen Wiig stars as Cheetah, a villainous new character in the ‘Wonder Woman’ film franchise
Wonder Woman 1984 might be the first time that Cheetah shows up in the modern iteration of the DCEU. However, the character was actually first published way back in 1985 in DC’s 12-issue Crisis on Infinite Earths series. Over the decades, Cheetah racked up quite a villainous reputation, with IGN once ranking her as one of the top 100 greatest comic book villains of all time.
Kristen Wiig landed the role shortly after the first Wonder Woman was released, and IGN reports that fans got their first look of Wiig in character at 2019’s CinemaCon.
In the film, Cheetah doesn’t start out as Wonder Woman’s nemesis. In fact, the film begins with Diana/Wonder Woman befriending Barbara Ann Minerva, a new archeologist at the museum. Minerva comes across as awkward yet funny and friendly, and the two women hit it off quickly. Alas, Minerva is quickly lured into the wily influences of villain Maxwell “Max Lord” Lorenzano (played by Pedro Pascal) as he searches for the powerful Dreamstone.
Thanks to the Dreamstone’s wish-granting powers, Minerva morphs into the powerful Cheetah and teams up with Max to take down Wonder Woman. And it’s Minerva’s mutation into Cheetah that has fans running fast-as-a-cheetah to the exit doors.
Fans and critics alike are slamming the bad CGI used to make Cheetah
According to Forbes, it cost approximately $200 million to make Wonder Woman 1984. But the movie’s audiences say that despite this big production budget, the CGI used to turn Wiig into her cat-like character is a whisker short of a good job.
“Visually horrible,” summarizes The Sun, noting that while the overall special effects for the film are beautiful, the cat-inspired villain falls far short of fans’ expectations. The publication goes on to summarize various reviews and tweets from DC audiences. One viewer said, “Cheetah looked bloody terrible. If we can make a whole [expletive] suit for Gadot, ain’t no [expletive] reason why CGI cat lady was the go-to.”
But it’s not just fans complaining. Some critics agree. ComicBook.com‘s reviewer Nicole Drum writes that Cheetah’s cheap CGI “seemed to follow a pattern established in other DC films, that of a mostly CGI villain appearing at the end of the film looking perhaps less well-done than fans would have liked.”
Some critics have gone so far as to compare Cheetah to the 2019 film ‘Cats’
Many fans and critics have compared Wiig’s Cheetah to the widely-panned musical film Cats. Fans on Twitter were unimpressed, making it clear they thought Cheetah had horrible CGI, like the often criticized Cats (2019).
That might be on purpose. “That Cheetah CGI in Wonder Woman 1984 was pretty awful,” reports The Wrap, going on to say that just like with Cats, the fight scene with Cheetah is very dark on-screen so viewers aren’t subjected to the full CGI experience. “Darkness is of course a time-honored trick for masking less-than-amazing SFX,” they conclude. “But the dimmer can’t conceal the weird non-presence of Wiig in the scene, the semi-floating quality that is the hallmark of subpar CGI.”
Viewers connecting the dots between the CGI in Cats versus Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t sheer luck, either. According to Cinema Blend, the two films were being filmed at the same time, and director Jenkins intended to go above and beyond the CGI felines in Cats.
“Cats was shooting on the stage next to us, and I knew that they were going through the same thing,” Jenkins told the site. “And then I heard that they were just going to do it in CG. And I was like, ‘I hope it works out for you!’ But I’ve never been so thankful for the process I went through.”
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