It’s a new decade for Wonder Woman, and Diana (Gal Gadot) has a new look — one that has comic book fans freaking out. In the sequel Wonder Woman 1984, Diana is working at the National Museum of Natural History and, of course, facing new villains along the way, including the oil tycoon Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) and Barbara Minerva/Cheetah (Kristen Wiig). Saving humanity requires a little more than some ‘80s-inspired scrunchies, though — instead, Diana is trading in her red, white, and blue gear for gold, regal armor that features some serious wings. Fans of the DC comics are no stranger to this look, known as the Golden Eagle Armor, which has a long legacy tied to some major battles.
“I love that costume in the lore and I was like, ‘We’ve got to do it,’” director Patty Jenkins said of the look, per Nerdist. Diana’s Golden Eagle Armor first appeared in the third issue of the 1996 DC comic Kingdom Come. The comic is set in a future where Superman and the rest of the Justice League have abandoned their superhero duties as Magog, a superhero who doesn’t mind killing, receives public support. A group of new superhuman vigilantes begins to rise, causing a struggle with the traditional superheroes. Superman finally returns after some coaxing from Wonder Woman and reforms the Justice League.
Superman creates a prison for the superhumans, known as the “Gulag,” but it is quickly filled beyond capacity. A riot eventually breaks out at the facility, and Wonder Woman dons her gold armor, including a sword made by the god Hephaestus that is so sharp it can even cut Superman’s skin — she’s a hero who’s ready to fight. “I expect to be a soldier,” she says in Kingdom Come. She eventually drops the armor once she accepts Superman’s peaceful approach. While Wonder Woman, like Superman, avoids battle, her Golden Eagle Armor shows she will seek it when she feels it is necessary. The suit also signals a tribute to Themyscira, her homeland.
The gold armor has made appearances in a number of other comics since Kingdom Come, most notably issue 144 of Wonder Woman Volume 2, where a darker, “take no prisoners” Diana dons the suit on the cover as she's surrounded by flames. Her mother, Hippolyta, even has a similar suit made in the comics, wings and all.
Wonder Woman 1984’s take on the Golden Eagle Armor is inspired by ancient Roman soldiers, according to Entertainment Weekly. “In the light it’s always liquid, moving… because in the comics, she does fight her mightiest battles in the golden suit,” costume designer Lindy Hemming told the magazine.
Gadot seems to agree that the gold armor is a significant part of Wonder Woman’s lore, and even has it on display in her home. “It's a symbol of strength, of legacy, of hope, I love having it with me to remind me of all that,” she wrote on Instagram of the armor.