Wonder Woman 1984 has brought its message on the importance of truth onto screens worldwide. With retro stylings and a Hans Zimmer score, the second installment in Diana Prince’s story shows a more mature Amazonian who has adapted to man’s world and her solitary life, developing her skills as a superhero and her ability to keep out of the limelight.
Wonder Woman 1984 takes place well before the introduction of the other heroes of the DCEU and largely exists as a standalone film. However, there are still plenty of references to Diana Prince’s own history across the comics, small screen, and previous films.
We’ve used all the wisdom of Athena to chronicle as many Easter eggs as we can spot, but as always, if we’ve missed anything, do let us know in the comments. Let’s get into it.
- This expansive opening brings us back to Themyscira, Wonder Woman’s home, which is sometimes referred to as Paradise Island. As always, we love any and all time on Themyscira, a world made up of exclusively strong women, ruled by Diana’s mother Hippolyta.
- Since this sequence takes place in the past, Robin Wright’s fantastic character Antiope is back! Audiences will unfortunately recall that Antiope was killed in the battle on the beach in Wonder Woman.
- The triathlon-like trials here, which the production team have called the “Amazon Olympics” are reminiscent of the trials all Amazons competed in during the comics to see who would make the sacrifice of leaving Themyscira to go with Steve to save the world of man. In that iteration, Hippolyta was all in on saving the world of man, as were the other Amazons, so there was no need to leave under cover of darkness.
This offers our first look at Diana’s skills as a kid, especially archery and horseback riding, two of her signature abilities. The girl playing 10-year-old Diana here is the same actress as last time, Lilly Aspell. She’s excellent, and really did all of this great action work – only the log that comes swinging above her head is CGI.
- Kid Diana is dressed similar to adult Diana back before she knew about her history – strappy sandals, arm gauntlets, and tan clothing she can easily move around in. Here, instead of just the partial tiara from Antiope that she’ll one day wear, she has a child-size version that matches Antiope’s exactly. It looks like everyone competing is more or less in a uniform, which includes that tiara with chin straps, which is also a reference to the helmet on the Asteria/golden eagle armor Diana will wear toward the end of the film.
Lindy Hemming, the film’s costume designer, told a group of reporters including Den of Geek that, “They’re in their triathletes suits, 2000 or however many years ago version of their Speedos really. We’re saying, design-wise, that they’re made of leather and that, in honor of the golden-ness of the games, and this golden theme really in this film.”
Hemming wanted some continuity with this setup flashback and Diana’s gold armor later on in the movie: “There’s a link between the end of the film and the beginning of the film, in a way. The gold and the gold, the beginning and the end of the film.” – more on that below!
- If you’re wondering why all the action looks so damn good here, a few big reasons: practical effects, the use of real-life women athletes like last time, and Cirque du Soleil. We even see an Amazon do their signature move from the first film, cantilevering herself off the side of a horse to grab a helmet off the ground.
When can we go back to Themyscira in the present? At the end, when Diana is flying and the air clears, I briefly thought Diana was headed back and yes please!
Wonder Woman’s apartment/life in DC
- This isn’t the first time a version of Diana Prince has lived in the Washington, DC area. Back in the 1940s, she even ran for president in an issue set 1,000 years in the future! We’ll be referencing Greg Rucka’s Rebirth run frequently since Patty Jenkins likely drew quite a bit of inspiration from it. During that run, Diana lived in Arlington, Virginia while working for Director Etta Candy at ARGUS, squaring off with Cheetah and reuniting with Steve Trevor. Diana also operated out of DC at various other points throughout her 80 year comics history.
- We see lots of little incognito rescues by Diana here, alluding to how she’s escaped notice for so long. Her big public return in the present day was depicted in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and then Justice League, so it’s assumed that she operated in secret during all the ensuing years, as well.
- The opening sequence, at least until Diana gets to the real action at the mall, feels a little bit like the opening credits of Richard Lester’s otherwise maligned Superman III, where the credits unfold over a series of mishaps on a Metropolis street forcing the Man of Steel to get involved.
- Diana works in cultural anthropology and archeology at the Museum of Natural History in the Smithsonian – a far cry from her long-running job as a secretary in the comics. As the last movie joked, “where [Diana’s] from, that’s called slavery.”
- Diana can read Latin, which surprised Barbara. She can read hundreds of languages, as she told Steve in the previous movie, but messing up and letting it show in front of someone who doesn’t know her secret is a hat tip to her being a demi-goddess, a classic move from the comics.
- There’s a newspaper article that says “The Great War Ends” next to a photo of “the gang” from the first movie (sans Steve) all dressed up with flowers – maybe they were at a wedding or celebrating the end of the war? It is not the same photo Bruce Wayne will send her in the 21st century, as depicted in the first Wonder Woman movie.
- Elsewhere in Diana’s apartment we see a newspaper clipping referring to Steve as a “local hero,” a shot of Steve with his plane, Steve’s watch, and a photo of Diana in front of a sign that says “Trevor Ranch,” which we’re guessing is some kind of charity ranch in honor of Steve (possibly founded/funded by Diana?). Steve’s watch will come up again later, but at the end of the previous movie he gave it to her before he sacrificed himself.
Where’s Etta Candy?
There’s a photo in Diana’s apartment that shows her liberating a concentration camp during World War II with Etta Candy, so while Diana seems to be staying out of the limelight, she’s not sitting on the sidelines.
In addition to their great relationship in the previous movie, in the comics, Etta and Diana worked together frequently, including at ARGUS, so this kind of team-up is a natural fit. Another photo shows Diana with an older version of Etta in New York. Etta would likely be in her late 80s or early 90s in 1984, so it’s likely that she’s no longer with us. Pour one out for a real one.
Barbara Minerva and Cheetah
While there have been no fewer than four Cheetahs in the comics, Barbara Minerva is the main one and one of only two who has actual powers. Cheetah is one of Wondy’s great foes in the comics, a frenemy and a vicious eater of human flesh! For a while she’s worshipped like a goddess in the jungle in the fictional African nation of Bwunda. She’s, uh, a little different here. There’s usually at least some element of Barbara asking for powers or a better life as well as the “be careful what you wish for” element where key information is withheld about what being the Cheetah will really mean.
- There’s a fun little moment of foreshadowing when Barbara compliments Diana’s animal print heels. Costume designer Lindy Hemming shared during a set visit that at one point they debated having Barbara wear a bit of cheetah flair earlier on, but ended up saving it all for her transformation. This little shout-out feels more fun, and brings in the added layer that later on, Barbara walks well in heels.
In a sign of Diana’s very specific brand of feminism, Barbara makes a comment about scientists not wearing heels and Diana responds that in fact, they do, since she’s a scientist and she’s in heels. In the 1980s as women entered and stayed in the workplace at unprecedented levels and reached new heights in their careers, most workwear trends like big padded shoulder blazers were focused on blending into what was presumed to be men’s spaces, rather than standing out or taking over the space. Since she grew up on Themyscira, Diana has less of that cultural baggage.
- Barbara ends the movie in human form now – probably. She isn’t necessarily all gone and vanquished. We never saw her renounce her wish and, unlike most of the wish-makers in the film, she was modified with layers of wishes. We wrote more about what this ending means here.
Let’s go to the mall!
- Diana uses her tiara to take out security cameras, with surprising precision. This was one of Diana’s original skills in the 1940s comics, and at some points the tiara had telepathic capabilities. Whatever the reason, Diana does it because she’s still trying to fly (ahem) under the radar, likely to accommodate the fact that her “big entrance” comes in Batman v. Superman. The tiara is, of course, Antiope’s. After her beloved mentor was killed on the beach of Themyscira, Diana now proudly wears it. Oddly enough, the film’s ONLY real nod to wider DCEU continuity is the fact that Diana is staying the heck out of it.
- Director Patty Jenkins has referenced this mall scene as wanting Diana to have a Spider-Man-style scene swinging through the mall:
“The way we’re telling these Wonder Woman films, she’s got emotional stakes pretty quickly so the thing I kept saying to the studio and everybody was, after ending the first movie, I’m craving that Spider-Man-like moment where you’re just delighting in your superhero at their best. A lot of superhero movies have those moments at the three-quarter point because they don’t have big emotional stakes, so how they beat the villain is how you get that.”
She continued “I needed there to be that badass, flying around [sequence] – I always loved that part of the Spider-Man movies.”
- The jewelry store is called “Koslov Jewels.” This may be a coincidence, but it shares a name with a couple of very minor DC Comics characters, both of whom appeared in 1970.
The first (and perhaps most likely of these two unlikely connections) is a Colonel Koslov, who took on Superman and Batman in the pages of World’s Finest in 1970. This Koslov was the military leader of a fictional Eastern European country called Lubania.
The other is a former boxing opponent of Ted “Wildcat” Grant who appeared in a single issue of The Brave and the Bold when Wildcat teamed up with Batman.
Is it just us, or would that vault in the back of Koslov Jewels have made a great opportunity to tease obscure stuff from other ancient or mystical corners of the DCEU like the Rock of Eternity in Shazam, Atlantis from Aquaman, or magical things that will appear in the upcoming Black Adam movie (such as Dr. Fate’s helmet).
- The mall scene is reminiscent of a similar one in Greg Rucka’s Rebirth run when Diana takes Barbara to go shopping (after Cheetah has reformed) and Diana is mobbed by the press.
Steve Trevor returns!
- Steve’s watch starts working again when he’s brought back to life by the moonstone — ahem sorry, Dreamstone. In a nice nod to the first movie, he puts a very ’80s Casio watch in Diana’s hand to let her know it’s really him, since he basically unwittingly body-snatched some poor guy.
Ironically, in the comics Steve was once meant to be used as a vessel to bring back someone else’s spirit, the malevolent plant god Urzkartaga who bestowed Cheetah’s powers upon her. Luckily, Wonder Woman helped Cheetah see the light and they stopped Urzkartaga from sacrificing Steve and taking over his body.
- Steve has been killed and brought back to life on several occasions throughout his comic history. He has been resurrected by Aphrodite and even brought back as a double and then merged with his original self, which feels spiritually similar to what happened here.
Steve mentions not knowing where he was, but he knew it was somewhere nice, so that implies he could be brought back again, right? Here’s hoping.
- In this movie, Steve gets to be the fish out of water instead of Diana. While she was delighted by ice cream, Steve lights up at the Smithsonian air and space museum (of course – he’s a pilot!) and he mistakes a trash can for art when Diana shows him some modern outdoor pieces, a nod to her future work at the Louvre.
I love the ’80s!
Aerobics! Pay phones! Stationary bike! Watching the wall of TVs in a store window! There are plenty of nods to 1980s culture throughout this film.
- Steve continues to be the damsel, doing a period-appropriate montage usually reserved for the leading lady. We can’t get enough of these fanny packs! And of course: “Does everyone parachute now?”
Sadly Steve’s navy outfit is not a jumpsuit but possibly a Members Only jacket and swishy pants, which is very 80s and we stan.
- Steve Trevor eating pop tarts and “cheese on demand” is living his best 1980s life.
- Maxwell Lord has “a great relationship with Sears,” offering to hook Diana up with a, gasp, 19-inch TV.
- The unnamed President in this film bears a passing resemblance to Ronald Reagan, who was, of course, President of the United States in 1984. If you squint, he might look a little like E.G. Marshall, who portrayed a similarly Reagan-esque President in 1980’s Superman II.
- At one point we can spot a poster for a Minor Threat gig on a brick wall, and it’s great to see the legendary hardcore band get a shout here. The only problem? They broke up in September of 1983. This movie takes place in July of 1984. Ah, well. Go listen to some Minor Threat anyway.
Rock the Casbah, I guess
- Egypt actually made a go of pan-Arabism from 1958-1961, bringing together Syria and Iraq under the name the United Arab Republic. There have been other attempts at pan-Arabism, but this is the most relevant to this context. Really, shouldn’t the attempt to reclaim ancestral lands be about Israel, like it is in real life?
As always, it is DEEPLY uncomfortable to watch Gal Gadot in any Arab and/or Middle Eastern context – put down those kids Gal!
- While this movie invokes the fictitious Middle Eastern country of Bialya, they still do some from within the very real location of Egypt. It’s unclear what exactly is going on here in the increasingly manic and global final act of this movie, but our best guess is that the fictional Emir Said Bin Abydos, an existing DC character, lives in Cairo in exile from Bialya. He wishes for his ancestral lands to be returned.
This is where things get even more hairy. In the comics, it’s an arid desert and the geography we’re given is “north of Iran and Saudi Arabia” which doesn’t really make sense. It would need to be carved out somewhere around Iraq or Syria (which would be North of Saudi Arabia and west of Iran) or perhaps eastern Turkey. Instead, we see the border spring up disruptively in Egypt, seemingly in the heart of Cairo. That puts at least part of Bialya on the Africa continent in an arid desert. That fits since Libya under Qaddafi seems to be an inspiration, but in this world does Bialya have the Suez? Does it go up into the Levant or stay in Africa? Basically I have a lot of questions.
- Diana dragging herself under the truck feels like an homage to a stunt Indiana Jones pulled off in Raiders of the Lost Ark, itself an homage to stuntman Yakima Canutt, who did the same thing in 1939’s Stagecoach. Funny enough, at least one of the punches Steve lands seems to use the same sound effect that we often hear when Indy throws one.
Asteria and the Golden Eagle Armor
This film provides a really lovely new backstory for the golden eagle armor of the comics (we dug in deep on the comics history of the golden eagle armor here). In the film, the armor is first worn by Asteria, who had to hold back the men while the rest of her Amazon sisters escaped to Paradise Island. It’s made up of pieces of the other Olympians armor, all given to her to help her in her sacrifice.
- Diana tried to find Asteria but could only find her armor.
- We never see Diana’s standard sword (the Sword of Athena, not the destroyed God Killer sword from the first movie) and shield here, nor the axe that goes with the golden eagle armor in the comics – perhaps part of her stance on nonviolence and deescalation? Costume designer Lindy Hemming viewed the wings on the suit as shields, so perhaps that’s why the standard shield was considered unnecessary.
During a set visit, Hemming said of the wings, “They become like Roman shields. So she’s protected. I won’t give away the story of why that’s the kind of protection she needs. But basically her fighting style is with the shields. So I’m really pleased now because I think that there was no logic to being a pair of wings, really. But there is a logic to being something she can glide in on.”
Agree to disagree on the logic of nonfunctional magnificent gold wings, Lindy, but fair point. Diana used to wear this armor when she was vulnerable, or facing a particularly strong enemy – ironic that she uses it once she regains her full strength. Although, Barbara is meant to be equally powerful, at least after the first wish, and then gets more, so maybe she still needed it. She was definitely on the defensive for a while there.
The invisible plane is nearly synonymous with Wonder Woman. Whether you watched the old Lynda Carter show or grew up reading the comics, the invisible plane has been around since 1942 and had the same creator, good old William Moulton Marston. The invisible aircraft was a necessity because like the Diana of the big screen, comic book Wondy couldn’t fly until the mid-80s (Crisis on Infinite Earths).
While Diana’s plane in WW84 seems to be normal in every way except invisibility, in the comics it could fly 2,000 miles an hour when it was first created. The jet only got faster as the decades went on, up to 40 miles per second, which is 144,000 mph. In the old William Moulton Marston days it was equipped with a “mental radio” so Wondy could receive telepathic distress calls (or send them) from Paradise Island.
Around the 1950s there was an upgrade and it became an invisible jet, specifically. It can go to space, go completely undetected by RADAR, and a more recent version of it is actually sentient and shape-shifting and went by the name WonderDome.
Here we see Diana use her own will to make the plane invisible, which is quite similar to the original origin story of the plane in the comics, rather than the more recent one. The comics version of the plane could send out rainbow rays to penetrate the mist around Themyscira and allow Wondy to fly back home. The fireworks may have been a nod to that in addition to a great visual device for the invisible jet (rather than the adorably hoaky image of Lynda Carter sitting in a plane outline while clouds scroll by). It could certainly be a possible route home for her in the future.
Wonder Woman can fly!
- Yes, Wonder Woman can fly! In one of the more emotional arcs, we see Diana develop her ability to fly in this movie, picking up where her hovering in the last film left off. She starts with extended leaps and riding air currents and lightning bolts to stay in the air far longer than anyone else could, and after she and Steve talked about flying while in (where else?) the invisible jet, she learned to fly freely on her own.
This is another one where the image of Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman has imprinted itself so thoroughly on the collective consciousness that people who have never seen the show have still seen her fly through the air.
- Meanwhile, on the comics side of things, Diana Prince first learned to “manipulate air currents” (AKA Buzz Lightyear “falling with style”) in the late 1950s. It wasn’t until the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, which changed up a lot of her powers, that she was able to fly for real. Since then the origins of her flight have differed a bit, but Hermes is usually mentioned. Sometimes it’s like recipe given in the Wonder Woman movie – “…beautiful as Aphrodite, wise as Athena, stronger than Hercules…” with Hermes contributing flight. Other times, his feather touches her thigh and suddenly she’s got the gift.
Wonder Woman harnesses lightning
- Before we see Diana fly, we see her use her lasso to harness lightning and ride it through the sky, swinging from bolt to bolt. This feels like a natural progression since in the first film we saw her redirect Ares’s lightning and later on in WW84 she flies completely of her own power.
This visually arresting new power is likely derived from the fact that Zeus, god of lightning, is her father in some tellings of her origin. In the New 52 era of the comics, Diana gained the ability to manipulate lightning, expel it, and use it as a weapon, with help from her bracelets. Since they were made from the Aegis, an Olympian artifact will get into below, they were both indestructible and helped her harness something of the divine.