Suffering Sappho!

How Wonder Woman 1984 reboots the DC hero's forgotten superpower

One of 2020's best superhero movies pays homage to a classic issue of Wonder Woman from 1958.

Warner Bros. Pictures

Look, up in the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Wonder Woman? Can Wonder Woman fly? As a matter of fact, yes, Wonder Woman can fly, and her newest movie pays homage to the way she first took flight in her comic books.

Here's how Wonder Woman 1984, in theaters and streaming on HBO Max, gives the Amazonian superhero the ability to ride the (air) waves.

Warning: Spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984 ahead.

Riding the currents with Wonder Woman

In Wonder Woman 1984, the sequel to 2017's Wonder Woman, the Amazonian heroine played by Gal Gadot comes out of hiding to save the world from a powerful oil tycoon, Maxwell Lord (Pedro Pascal), and a half-human, half-wildcat supervillain named Cheetah (Kristen Wiig).

Late in the movie, Wonder Woman must rush to stop Maxwell and Cheetah from carrying out Maxwell's plans. At first, Diana takes big leaps high in the sky, which quickly proves inefficient for covering vast distances. That's when Diana thinks back to what her beloved beau, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine) told her about the secret to flying: It's all air, and knowing how to ride the currents will propel you forward.

And so, Diana learns to quite literally ride the air, effectively giving her the power of flight. While it's not as easy for her as it is for someone like Superman or Shazam, Diana learns to master her own way of flying just in time.

Wonder Woman learns to ride air currents to fly, in 'Wonder Woman' #98.DC Comics

How Wonder Woman learned to fly in the comics

Diana's unique way of flying originates in Wonder Woman #98, published way back in 1958. The issue itself is somewhat controversial for dedicated DC Comics readers, as the issue marks a confusing turning point on whether the Wonder Woman series takes place on Earth-One or Earth-Two. The issue itself reboots Wonder Woman's origin story, taking her away from World War II and telling a new version of her meeting with Steve Trevor.

In this "new" origin story, Steve Trevor flies over Paradise Island (the home of the Amazonians) when his plane explodes. Diana rushes to save him by propelling herself into the sky, but fails to gain enough momentum to reach him. But then, something funny happens.

"Like a graceful winged being," reads the third-person narrator, "Wonder Woman rides the ascending current of air with astonishing balance... With dazzling agility, Wonder Woman updrafts... and downdrafts..."

Of course, Wonder Woman catches Steve Trevor, and the plot proceeds with Diana trying to accumulate a million dollars in 24 hours to save some orphans. (Look, comic books were very weird back then.) You can read Wonder Woman #98 on Comixology or on DC Universe with a subscription.

Wonder Woman can also fly using her Golden Eagle Armor, as seen in the Mark Waid/Alex Ross series 'Kingdom Come.'DC Comics

Other ways Wonder Woman can fly

Throughout her long comic book history, Wonder Woman has flown like an eagle thanks to a number of unique items or rebooted abilities. There is first and foremost Diana's Invisible Jet, which is literally an invisible jet plane that first appeared in comics in Sensation Comics #1 in 1942.

Elsewhere, depending on the era and which writer is writing Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman has been able to fly naturally since birth (as a gift of Hermes) or using items like Hermes' sandals (called Telaria) or even the Lasso of Truth. Other times, she's flown on Pegasus, or as a ring-wielding member of the Black Lanterns and Star Sapphires.

Gal Gadot dons Wonder Woman's Golden Eagle Armor in 'Wonder Woman 1984.'Warner Bros. Pictures

Her Golden Eagle Armor, first imagined by Alex Ross and Mark Waid in the prestige miniseries Kingdom Come, also gives Diana the ability to fly. (The armor also plays a big role in Wonder Woman 1984.) In short, Wonder Woman can fly, and unlike her other Justice League colleagues, she's got multiple ways of taking to the skies.

Wonder Woman 1984 is out now in theaters and streaming on HBO Max.

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