It might not come as a surprise to modern superhero fans — but in the strange history of Wonder Woman, her standard set of powers isn’t so standard. Did you know that she used to ride a kangaroo?
Here’s how Wonder Woman 1984’s biggest leap is actually standing on a comic book foundation.
[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Wonder Woman 1984.]
In Wonder Woman 184, Wonder Woman learns to fly! The princess of the Amazons gets a big upgrade from leaping, running, lassoing, and Invisible Plane-ing her way across the world.
But she does it in a particularly unexpected way. By just ... doing it. With a little help from Steve Trevor describing how an expertly designed airplane flies through the air, Diana does the same with her roughly human-shaped body. Huh?
Wonder Woman flying goes back to comic book history
For a superhero of her stature, Wonder Woman’s powers are oddly resistant to codification. Sure, Superman has gone through some periods of power creep where he could do things like “super inventing,” “super ventriloquism,” or “yeeting himself back in time by accident.” But these days it’s generally accepted that he’s strong and bulletproof, he can fly, and he has laser eyes, freeze breath, x-ray vision, and heightened senses.
Wonder Woman is super strong and super durable, but not bulletproof — otherwise why would she need to do the bracer thing? — and is one of the world’s greatest fighters with tons of charisma to boot. But beyond that it gets muddy. At various points in her history she’s also been able to use a “mental radio” as if she were telepathic, has been granted the ability to talk to animals by the goddess Artemis, could travel to different dimensions by meditating, or could speak pretty much any language with ease.
And Wonder Woman hasn’t always been able to fly. This is obvious once you think about it for a second. Why would she need an invisible jet if she could fly? Flight was not so closely associated with superheroes now as it was when she was created in 1942. Even Superman couldn’t fly at first — that’s where the phrase “leaps tall buildings in a single bound” comes from.
For a long time, an invisible plane or jet served Wonder Woman quite well. Unassisted flight didn’t become one of her basic powers until 1987, when writer/artist George Pérez kicked off his lasting reboot of her origin story. Now, with the blessing of the god Hermes, Diana could soar through the skies with just some winged sandals.
But it wasn’t the first time she learned to fly. In the 1970s, Wonder Woman lost all her powers for a (short, but memorable and infamous) period, and when they were restored she also rediscovered an ancient Amazon technique. She learned to ride air currents for short distances. In other words, she figured out how to fly like an airplane without having an airplane-shaped body.
Which is exactly how it goes down in Wonder Woman 1984, as odd as it may have seemed on screen. But you know what they say: Fish gotta swim, Amazons gotta fly.