So, Wonder Woman turned out to be an awesome movie that raked in lots of money in its opening weekend. Hooray! And I don’t want to say I was a little bit nervous about how well it would do, but, you know… we had a few reasons for being a little concerned about how Warner Bros. would treat our gal.
But never mind, it’s all good. And now that we’ve finally put to rest the silly idea that a movie starring Wonder Woman can’t bring in the box office bucks, let’s talk sequels. Because if we’re going to keep this money train rolling, we need new scripts, and that means lining up a few more villains for Wonder Woman to fight.
Now, conventional wisdom would have you believe that one of Wonder Woman’s weaknesses as a character is her lack of compelling super-villains, but I would respectfully disagree with that. Because when you get right down to it, Wonder Woman has wrangled with more than a few formidable foes in the past — and even some of her less impressive adversaries have the potential to turn in a memorable screen performance, given the right script and player in the role.
So with that in mind… let’s get casting!
Why her? Anyone who remembers the old Super Friends cartoon will recall Cheetah, and there’s a good reason she got tapped to join the Legion of Doom: Batman has the Joker, Superman has Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman has Cheetah. And just like Nolan saved Heath Ledger’s Joker for The Dark Knight, it makes sense to save this lethal lady for Wonder Woman’s second outing. There have been a few Cheetahs over the years; my personal fave is Barbara Ann Minerva, an ethically challenged archaeologist who uses ancient magic to transform herself into a were-cheetah. Her motives for tussling with Wonder Woman have changed over the years, but I like the one put forward in a recent comic based on the Wonder Woman TV show, the idea she’s jealous of Wonder Woman for having everything while women like her keep beating their heads against glass ceilings. As for why Ms. Lawrence should get first dibs, I should think her bona fides are obvious enough: she’s attractive, supremely talented, one of the biggest actresses working in Hollywood today, and more than familiar with the challenges of executing action sequences while wearing copious amounts of body make-up. What more need be said?
Why him? Saying Edgar Cizko has issues with women is an understatement; over the years, this misogynistic telepath has used his mental powers to torment anyone — usually women — who stands in his way. Naturally, a powerful woman who represents everything he despises is going to end up in his twisted cross-hairs sooner or later. If we’re looking for a villain whom Wonder Woman can’t defeat using just brute strength, then this diminutive fellow would be the perfect choice, just as Peter Dinklage would be the perfect choice to play him. And that’s not just because they share similar dimensions; putting Psycho in a Wonder Woman movie is going to be tricky, because there’s no getting around the toxic gender politics that are at the very core of his character. Assuming those motivations stay in the script, having him portrayed by a damn fine actor who can find the kernel of humanity in an otherwise incorrigible character might help pre-empt some of the inevitable nonsense that arises when a work of fiction dives into gender issues… while also giving Dinklage the kind of acting challenge a fellow with his towering talent deserves.
Why her? Like the Circe of Greek myth (mentioned in Homer’s The Odyssey), DC’s Circe is a shape-shifting enchantress who often bedevils Wonder Woman, either for pure shits and giggles or as part of a larger devious scheme. Her appearance and motives for causing mischief have changed over the years, but traits that have remained constant are her powerful command of sorcery, her delight in humiliating others and her habit of turning human beings into animals. A party girl, in other words. Best known to non-British audiences for her roles in Game of Thrones and the Harry Potter franchise, Tena — aside from her estimable physical attributes — also plays the accordion, is the lead singer for Molotov Jukebox and is on record saying, “Nerds rule the fucking world. Fuck everything else.” All of that adds up to “party girl” to me (and it’s not like she hasn’t had some practice playing magical folk before). Serious, go to YouTube and do a search for “Molotov Jukebox – I Need It” — that’s all you need to see to know she’s the one for the part.
Why her? Even the people who screamed “Mah precious childhood!” when the 2016 Ghostbusters film came out had to admit McKinnon stole the show; as one reviewer put it, “It’s a performance so utterly weird and nuanced you can’t not watch it.” Saturday Night Live has long been a reliable source of entertaining film comedians, and McKinnon has clearly shown she has what it takes to be Hollywood’s next big thing. So why not literally cast her as the biggest foe Wonder Woman has ever faced? Like several other Wonder Woman foes, Giganta’s origin story has changed several times over the decades, but that’s okay because all you really need to know about the character is this: she’s a hundred-foot-tall woman who kicks ass in a jungle-themed outfit. I can’t decide if we want to see Giganta as the main villain or as part of a super-villain team-up; all I know is, someone needs to measure McKinnon for a leopard-print bustier, stat.
Why her? The details have changed over the years, but the story remains the same: vulnerable young woman places her faith in the wrong man, ends up a warbling weapon of mass destruction. Along with the ability to fly, Silver Swan has the ability to generate destructive sonic screams and create a low-level sonic shield against bullets and projectiles; one version of the character also had the ability to telepathically control birds. Whichever powers we decide to go with, there’s plenty of great storytelling material to work with. I especially like how the most recent version of the character is a singing superstar; given what we know about the music industry, casting Silver Swan as a singer feels very apropos vis-à-vis the whole “vulnerable young woman places her faith in the wrong man” motif. And I have a feeling a singer/actor like Beyoncé Knowles would be very game for a role that might have something to say about the more predatory aspects of the entertainment industry. Plus, you know, we’d be talking massive soundtrack sales if she signed on. (This is a business, after all.)
Why him? Originally a diminutive lackey of Mars the war god, the Duke’s revamp in the 1970s saw him become a solo operative, rebelling against his master by using his considerable powers of deception to foment chaos on Earth. Given our current political climate, I can easily see him reinvented as a flamboyant media mogul, a combination of Richard Branson and William Randolph Hearst who sows disinformation among the masses as a means to advance his malevolent agenda. And when the existence of Diana and the Amazons becomes public knowledge, he seizes the opportunity to put his ultimate plan in motion. Being a creature of deception, this villain would have to be played by someone charming enough to pull off the role of a well-practised liar, and I submit Jason Bateman would be up to the challenge. Though better known for comedic roles in which he plays a flustered Everyman type, anyone who has seen The Gift knows there’s a dollop of darkness in him, too. This is a role that needs someone who can alternate between beguiling charm and ruthless evil, and I contend Bateman’s our guy on both counts.
Why him? Speaking of charming fellows. Those of you who only know Parsons from his long-running gig on that TV show should get out to see Hidden Fences — not just because it’s a great movie about an incredible piece of history, but because you will watch Parsons as lead engineer Paul Stafford and not once see him as that Sheldon nerd. Guy’s got range, is what I’m saying. And I think he would jump at the chance to demonstrate that range with a villainous turn as the White Magician. When first introduced, he presents himself as a retired superhero who has lived for many hundreds of years battling evil under various names, but it’s soon revealed his quest for power has corrupted his soul, and he sees Wonder Woman as an obstacle preventing him from gaining more power. Nothing personal, princess, it’s just business. Like the Duke of Deception, this magical fellow would be ideal for giving Diana a fight on a non-physical playing field where her strength and training won’t necessarily save her — and let’s be honest, who wouldn’t want to see more Doctor Strange-level visual effects in a superhero flick?
Why her? This ruthless dictator of Venturia, a remote kingdom on the sunken continent of Atlantis, first appeared in Wonder Woman #8 back in 1944, and joined other Wonder Woman foes to form the brilliantly named Villainy, Inc. She also once threw Steve Trevor into an arena to fight prehistoric boars. As one would. What I’m saying is, she’s got history with our girl. In many ways, Clea and her subjects represent the darkest-timeline version of the Amazons — they enslaved their men and force them to fight in gladiatorial combat — so she would be a natural challenger for Diana in a metaphorical clash of feminist ideologies. As for the right person to play this misandrist monarch, look no further than Brienne of Tarth… er, Gwendoline Christie, who’s got the height (6’3″), the looks and the acting chops needed to pull off a bravura performance as Queen Clea. (Plus, you want to talk about saving money on sword-fighting lessons…)
Why him? Created with the specific intent of giving Wonder Woman her own Lex Luthor type to tangle with, Cale is the CEO of a pharmaceutical firm who finds Diana’s message of love too simplistic for the real world. Also, she resents the princess for finding acceptance in Man’s World too easily while women like her had to fight for their place at the table. The word you might be looking for here is “topical.” And while Ms. Cale certainly wouldn’t give Diana much of a fight in a head-to-head battle, she has been known to use her considerable resources to wage a clandestine media campaign against our hero, as well as resorting to less reputable means to besmirch Diana’s name. As for who can play this corporate ice queen to perfection, I can’t think of a better candidate than the ice queen’s sister herself, Kristin Bell. (Obscure Frozen reference FTW!) And no, it’s not because Ms. Bell has experience playing clever women named “Veronica” — if you haven’t already, check out the Showtime series House of Lies to see another side of Bell (one you definitely don’t want to cross). Bottom line: Cale means business, and so does she. Sign her up.
Why him? Though first introduced as a Batman villain, Doctor Moon drifted into Wonder Woman’s orbit shortly after she started her costume-less secret agent phase, offering his services to a masked terrorist with designs on transferring her brain into Diana’s body. Over the years, he’s popped up here and there in the DC universe whenever a doctor unencumbered by ethics is needed to drive the plot. A brain surgeon before turning to a life of crime, he sees himself more as an explorer than a healer, pushing the boundaries of medicine unfettered by “outdated” notions of morality. And the fact that a lot of his past work involves twisting the minds and bodies of women bound helpless under his knife? Pure coincidence. At any rate, I don’t think it’s a radical idea to have a Korean character played by someone of Korean descent, which Kim happens to be — plus (and let’s be honest) he’s easy on the eyes, too. When you’re called to play a soulless monster who gets giddy at the prospect of carving up women, every bit helps.
Why him? What, like Ares is the only Greek god who might have a bone to pick with Wonder Woman? Actually, most days Hades is pretty chill about Diana and the Amazons; as god of the underworld, he doesn’t tend to concern himself much with the affairs of us breathing types. It’s only when Diana tries to deny him a prize in the form of a recently departed soul, or when she trespasses in his realm for some noble reason, that he tends to get cranky. And you do not want to do is make the god of the underworld mad. Because the one thing he has that no other god has is an infinite amount of patience borne from the certainty that all will fall before him sooner or later. He’s taken on many forms in the comics over the years, but the one I like the best is the time he resembled a Victorian undertaker, complete with top hat and cane. And when I typed “British” and “menacing” and “laconic” into my Special Super-Villain Casting Algorithm, the computer spit back “Oh, just go and hire Bill Nighy already.” But seriously: asked and answered, people. Asked and answered.
Why him? This lively fellow was introduced fairly recently in the comics as, well, the first-born child of Zeus. Since Wonder Woman is also Zeus’s child in more recent DC stories, that makes them half-siblings. Unlike Diana, however, First Born had the unfortunate luck of being born to a god who believed a prophecy that his first-born son would grow up to kill him and take his place on Olympus. So Zeus tries to kill him as an infant, but Hera takes pity on him and instead exiles him to Earth. This gives First Born a few issues to work through, which he does by trying to take over the Earth and then, when that doesn’t work, leading an army to invade Olympus. If the films choose to go in the same direction as the comics and make Diana a demi-goddess, then giving her a surly sibling as an antagonist — one who can go toe to toe with her in brute strength, and has no compunctions about destroying her to take his rightful place as ruler — might work out just fine (see also: Thor and Loki). Does anyone have any objections to giving Bautista another juicy comic-movie role that lets him strut, smash and roar his way across the screen? I didn’t think so.
Why him? Yeah, you should have known this guy was coming. Short version: Mouse Man is a scientist who gets himself accidentally trapped at a height of six inches, and he figured that and the ability to mentally command mice was all it took to give Wonder Woman a workout. Sure, what the hell. He’s a ridiculous character and only made a handful of appearances in the ’60s before scurrying back into his hole… but what if that wasn’t the end of his story? What if he was brought back for a cameo appearance in a Wonder Woman film, perhaps as the not-so-threatening villain who’s vanquished before we get to the opening credits? And if we do go down this route, I really think Giamatti should get first dibs, if only to give him a chance to show he’s a good sport about playing animal-themed afterthoughts in superhero movies.
So what do you think? Would you pay to see any of these actors fight our gal, or is there another villain that you’d like to see come to life on the big screen? Tell me in the comments below!