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Wonder Woman 1984's New Costume Explained: Why Does Diana Need Armor?

Wonder Woman 1984 Gold Eagle Armor

Warning: Potential SPOILERS for Wonder Woman 1984

The release of Wonder Woman 1984 is still a year away, but the movie's newest poster has sent audiences into a frenzy. It's colorful, it's bold, it's confident... and it's raising the question: What's the deal with Wonder Woman's new golden armor?

At least, we assume it's golden, since the shifting kaleidoscope style makes it hard to tell for sure. But within minutes of the poster revealing star Gal Gadot in a suit of armor as opposed to her iconic costume, fans were speculating that this is no ordinary outfit. This new uniform, they claim, is actually the 'Golden Eagle Armor' from the comics, minus the impressive wings and helmet. On the one hand, those elements are... kind of what make it the Golden Eagle armor to begin with. But on the other, it's probably best for movie fans to get familiar with the DC lore at work.

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It's too soon to tell if director Patty Jenkins and the studio are explicitly teasing the full 'Golden Eagle Armor' for Wonder Woman 1984, but allow us to be the first to warn that if it's true... then the movie may not be following the comic book mythology behind it.

Wonder Woman's 'Golden Eagle' Armor Explained

Wonder Woman Comic in Gold Eagle Armor

The introduction of new Amazon armor will obviously have fans wondering where Diana could even get it. She can't return to Themyscira, remember? But with so little of Diana's time on the island shown in her first movie, it isn't a hard riddle to solve (a suit was lost and recovered by archeologists, etc.). But one thing's for sure: whatever lore or backstory is given will beat the comic book version, since the Golden Eagle Armor is... well, just a suit of gold armor. In fact, it isn't really the armor that tells the story, but the fact that Diana hardly wears any to begin with. So when she does armor up--with massive metal wings and a beaked helm--comic readers know the coming fight is going to test her (even if it doesn't actually, since she's, you know, Wonder Woman).

RELATED: Why Wonder Woman: 1984's Release Date Was Changed

Don't believe comic fans or know-it-alls who claim different, since this suit of armor was introduced in 1996 as part of the Elseworlds series Kingdom Come. As an older Justice League sought to keep the world intact, Lex Luthor united the planet's villains. All out war was the only choice, and as Diana wordlessly removed the massive winged armor from the wall of her Watchtower quarters, Superman expressed his dislike for the implications. Wonder Woman didn't mince words: a war had come, and she must play a soldier, which meant dressing like one.

What Diana's Golden Armor Really Means

Wonder Woman Gold Eagle Armor

The subtext was that her iconic costume was not one of war, meaning the idea of the Amazons' 'Champion' meant one who avoided battle, instead of seeking it out. A few years later the armor was incorporated into the main DC continuity by writer Eric Luke and Yanick Paquette in Wonder Woman #144 (1999), when Diana donned the armor in a clear homage to Mark Waid and Alex Ross's Kingdom Come scene. Again, without offering any deeper meaning or significance other than it being Diana's actual Amazonian armor.

But that still left the door open to there being some elaborate backstory or magical enchantments, right? Perhaps. But when Queen Hippolyta followed her daughter off the island of Themyscira in Phil Jimenez's "Worlds at War" story, a bit more was explained. Phillips does the talking in Wonder Woman #172, revealing that she had a suit of armor made for Hippolyta in the image of Diana's own. With the Sandals of Hermes and the Gauntlet of Atlas, Hippolyta made for a dead ringer--but the armor itself was just armor. Special, Amazon-made armor, but lending no more than protection to the wearer. (Editor's note: Diana has worn the armor after removing the wings, so the poster isn't necessarily altered from the movie's version.

Why Does Wonder Woman Need Armor... Now?

It might be the most obvious question to ask for fans connecting Wonder Woman 1984 to her origin movie: if plate armor was on the table, why is this the first we're seeing of it? The Wonder Woman movie required Diana to deflect every bullet sent her way, so a suit of armor would be more than a little handy. Not to mention her leaving the island to kill Ares... without her Amazon sisters or queen giving her such armor to take with her. But there could be a few simple reasons for why this armor is being turned to now, and it begins with the enemy she is expected to face in Wonder Woman 1984: the Cheetah, formerly known as Dr. Barbara Minerva.

From all accounts and reports, director Patty Jenkins's version of Cheetah will be drawing heavily from the most recent incarnation of the villain, told in Greg Rucka, Liam Sharp, and Nicola Scott's Wonder Woman Rebirth. The plot details appear to line up with movie leaks, official images, and the heroine Jenkins and Gadot created in Wonder Woman: Barbara begins as Diana's friend and fellow history enthusiast, begins her transformation into Cheetah, and eventually must do battle with Wonder Woman. Still, that's not the kind of threat Diana would need armor for in the comics, and we've got two likely explanations.

RELATED: Wonder Woman Director Teases Sequel Trailer in December

First, while Cheetah may resemble a human-cat hybrid, her origins in the comics have always been tied to the mystical, magical, and supernatural. In the most recent telling, Barbara was chosen by the forest God Urzkartaga, but punished to be overcome with bloodlust as the tortured Cheetah (since she was no longer a virgin, which the dark lord required). Since Cheetah's powers are boosted by magic, Diana could feasibly need extra protection to resist it. However, that explanation for Barbara's curse offers the most likely reason for Diana to suit up. She gets suited up for a fight... because she doesn't want to have one at all.

The Real Reason For Wonder Woman's Armor?

It's still speculation on our part, but if Jenkins and Gadot are adapting the Rebirth version of Cheetah's story, then the comic's most powerful and unforgettable scene seems an obvious inclusion. The sequence begins with Diana seeking Barbara out, and withstanding one lightning fast slash and claw after another, beseeching Barbara to listen to her, and refusing to attack. In the end, it's Barbara who finally yields, setting the stage for Diana to bring her to tears by confirming nothing has changed, that she is still loved, and she won't let yet another God turn her against a sister.

Now, in blockbuster movie form, Diana donning the armor to simply stand and survive Cheetah's onslaught coukd offer the kind of CG spectacle audiences expect from a third act. But that was also the most heavily criticized part of the first Wonder Woman. So, would critics and audiences appreciate the subversion of expectations, when it's revealed that Diana's most glorious armor doesn't grant her more power in a fight, but simply survive long enough for her words and compassion to make friend of her foe?

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It's hard to say, and of course, the door is always open for Diana to make peace with Barbara, before taking on a larger, or "true" villain (just like the comics). But as we've explained here, whatever backstory or purpose Jenkins has cooked up for the Golden Eagle Armor will be more substantial than the original comics. There, it was simply a stunningly potent image... something the poster for Wonder Woman 1984 has already accomplished.

MORE: Wonder Woman 1984: The Villain Cheetah's Power Explained

Key Release Dates
  • Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
  • Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
  • Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
  • The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
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