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Wonder Woman's golden armor explained

The trailer for Wonder Woman 1984 made quite a splash by revealing a slick new outfit for Diana: a magical-looking set of golden armor, complete with removable wings that do indeed permit her to fly. Details about just what she'll be getting up to (and how Chris Pine's character Steve Trevor will return) are still sparse. A rip-roaring slick new look provides a lot of hype, but like any content in a well-cut trailer, it raises more questions than it answers. 

If Diana could strut out of a World War I trench and cross no man's land without breaking a sweat, what on Earth could she be contending with that would necessitate such a hardcore outfitting in the new movie? Well, that shiny plate isn't just any old set — it has a meaning of its own in Diana's long comics history. Where does it come from, what does it mean, and most importantly, what does it suggest for Diana's return to the silver screen?

The Golden Eagle armor means war

This set of armor is referred to as Wonder Woman's Golden Eagle armor, and it first debuted in an event comic series entitled Kingdom Come in 1996. Event comics have a fuzzy history with regard to canonical significance, but the most important thing to know about Diana rocking this armor during this event is that it underlines something very specific: a deviation from her usual values.

Diana's character is well-known for being a peacemaker and a rational voice, even when her comrades are quarreling with each other. Her peacekeeping nature was very evident in her solo film; violence and killing are never her first answers to conflict. In Kingdom Come, however, she dons the armor as a statement of all-out war, believing the time for diplomacy and gentler measures has passed.

In the periodic appearances of the Golden Eagle armor since 1996, it is generally treated like Diana pulling out The Big Gun; she uses it for do-or-die battles with gods that have a higher likelihood of killing her, and at one point, she even donned it to fight an evil version of herself (in 1999's Wonder Woman #144). She had one big no-holds-barred fight with Ares (David Thewlis) at the end of her first solo movie, so what's another big brawl with the stakes ratcheted up? Nothing but fun, that's what.

What does this mean for Wonder Woman 1984?

If the visual invocation of the Golden Eagle armor is intended to be treated with comic-canonical accuracy by director Patty Jenkins, Diana must be up for one heck of a fight; the outfit shrieks "final battle wear." The question is, who will be on the other side of the fight? We don't doubt that Barbara Minerva/Cheetah (Kristen Wiig) will be perfectly ferocious, but will she square up to the literal god of war Diana fought in Wonder Woman? Well, perhaps; in the comics, Cheetah's claws are capable of shredding virtually any material. Heck, she's even used them to injure Superman  so if her cinematic incarnation is comparably formidable, a little preparation on Diana's part might be advisable.

The only other (known) possible opponent is, of course, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), but he is presented so far as being even more of a normie than the superpowered Cheetah, with his pinstripe suits and gloriously overwrought fake tan. That said, we do see a clip in the trailer of Lord in the midst of some kind of magical whirlwind, and we also know that he has a magic crystal of some sort. Either of these things may be able to transform him into something supernatural and terrible that necessitates a little bit more insurance. The possibility always exists that including the armor will be meant to invert some expectation, but that doesn't seem terribly likely. 

Barring the possibility of one last trailer, we'll just have to sit on our hands and impatiently wait until Wonder Woman 1984 premieres on June 5, 2020, to find out.