Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Wonder Woman 1984.
Wonder Woman 1984 left the fate of Barbara Minerva (Kristen Wiig) on something of an ambiguous note — here’s what ultimately befell her and how she was transformed back into a human. Directed by Patty Jenkins, the DC Comics sequel picked up decades after the World War I-centric adventure of 2017’s Wonder Woman. Now living in Washington D.C., Diana Prince (Gal Gadot) devoted her time between working at the Smithsonian and more street-level forays into heroism. The emergence of the fabled Dreamstone, however, propelled her on a globe-trotting quest with a newly resurrected Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) at her side.
Her world-saving efforts were eventually obstructed by Max Lord (Pedro Pascal), who absorbed the wish-granting powers as his own and sought to conquer the world. More personally, however, Barbara Minerva was drawn into the conflict and ultimately turned from friend to foe. Meek and plagued by insecurities, Barbara initially wished to be more like Diana. As a result, Barbara received a boost in confidence, poise, and positive recognition, as well as an array of superpowers. In order to definitively stop Diana from interfering in his plans, Max Lord later enabled Barbara to further transform into the monstrous humanoid, Cheetah. By the end of Wonder Woman 1984, however, Barbara was briefly glimpsed as having returned to her human form. Here’s how it happened and what it could mean for the future.
After Diana used the Lasso of Truth to beam her message around the world, the audience was treated to a montage of people renouncing their wishes. Around the same time, Barbara was seen sitting on a rock and overlooking the ocean. Human once more, an assumption could be made that she had also rescinded her previous wish. That’s certainly possible. Though she wasn’t in the proximity of a TV screen to see Diana’s broadcast, it could be explained that her more animalistic Cheetah transformation came with some kind of super-hearing. However, that being said, the explanation was actually much simpler — albeit potentially lost in the chaos of Max Lord’s final power play: Barbara’s regression was actually tied to Diana’s actions and the aforementioned montage of wish renouncement.
It was established that every wish came at a cost. In return for getting Steve Trevor back, Diana lost her powers. In exchange for her new gifts, Barbara lost her humanity. So on and so forth. Therefore, when Diana guided mankind back to its senses, it caused a domino effect that led directly to Barbara. After all, contrary to another popular belief, Barbara’s final transformation wasn’t due to a second wish. Instead, it actually came from the loophole that Max himself exploited throughout Wonder Woman 1984. Able to take whatever he chose in exchange for granting a wish, he siphoned off some benefits to Barbara. As the world succumbed to their base desires, Max fuelled her final turn by blessing her with additional rage, ferocity, and more. Once people took back their wishes, the costs (and those additional gifts) were similarly reversed.
Therefore, Barbara potentially ended the film with even more of a grudge — since her status as an apex predator was effectively stolen by Diana and mankind at large. That outcome would actually set up an interesting, vengeful future for Barbara. Though her final Cheetah form was taken away, her initial powers and lack of humanity likely remained. After all, the latter would’ve ensured that she never renounced her first wish. Equally, already deemed too-far-gone before the third act, hopeful messages likely wouldn’t have reached her even if she’d heard them.
Meanwhile, those initial powers already made Barbara enough of a challenge for Diana. With even more hate in her heart, she would likely become even more formidable and prone to lash out at the world in even more violent ways. That could be simultaneously bad news for Diana and good news for fans. After all, Wiig could make future appearances in Wonder Woman 3 and beyond. As such, while some have complained that Cheetah was sidelined or underutilized, it could emerge that Wonder Woman 1984 was essentially just an origin story for the iconic antagonist.