Wonder Woman’s Power of Flight: DCEU Versus DC Comics

Wonder Woman learns a new ability in 1984—is it a new one for the comics character?

Gal Gadot as Diana in Wonder Woman 1984
Photo: Warner Bros.

This Wonder Woman 1984 article contains spoilers.

Wonder Woman 1984 sees Diana take to the skies in a way that is reminiscent of other superhero characters we’ve seen on screen before, but that we had yet to see from Wonder Woman in the DCEU. This led many viewers, including this writer, to wonder about the history of Wonder Woman’s ability to fly. Invisible Jets aside, let’s break down Wonder Woman’s history of flight in the comics and where DCEU Diana’s ability fits in…

Can Wonder Woman Fly in the Comics?

Well, friends, as with all long-running canon, that is a complicated question. In her original comic book incarnation, Diana couldn’t fly, but that hasn’t kept Wonder Woman down. During the Silver Age of Comics, Diana discovered an ancient Amazonian technique that involves gliding using the air currents. This is a) is reminiscent of what happens in the film and b) makes me wonder if flying could be a thing in the proposed Amazon spinoff movie.

But I digress… It wasn’t until after the Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot that Diana full-on flew. In her post-Crisis origin story, Diana was gifted the ability to fly from Hermes with the help of some winged sandals.

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How Does Wonder Woman Learn to Fly in 1984?

While there is definitely precedent for Wonder Woman flying in the comics, the way Diana learns how to fly in the superhero sequel feels pretty unique. In Wonder Woman 1984, Diana’s ability to fly doesn’t come specifically from the gods (though, I suppose, technically all of her abilities do), or is it an ancient Amazonian skill that she discovers. Instead, it’s something she learns herself in the World of Men. The sequence that sees her first take to the sky in WW1984 is very much the emotional climax of the film, taking place only moments after Diana has made the choice to renounce her wish and say goodbye to Steve.

Patty Jenkins told Den of Geek and other outlets during a recent press junket: “I love that [Diana] learns how to fly in this emotional way, and that that metaphor stands for something for all of us, which is you have to let go and embrace the truth and things for what they are to understand that it’s just wind and air.” 

In her heartbreak over losing Steve (again), Diana runs. Then, she flies. The film reminds us in voiceover what Steve told Diana about flying when they were in the Invisible Jet: “It’s so easy, really. It’s wind and air, learning how to ride it, how to catch it.” Diana uses her Lasso to pull herself high into the sky. She spreads her arms, and catches the wind. She uses her Lasso to snag clouds and the occasional lightning bolt to propel her forward, and then she soars.

Why Doesn’t Wonder Woman Fly in Justice League?

The risk of making a massive superhero franchise without a solid plan is that you run into these sorts of questions. Much like Diana’s obsession with keeping her identity secret in 1984, which doesn’t make a lot of sense on a character level, the fact that Wonder Woman doesn’t use her ability to fly in Justice League doesn’t make a lot of plot sense either. Honestly, the answer to this question is that Justice League was made before Wonder Woman 1984 and the Powers That Be didn’t forsee a future in which this problem may arise. As for the in-world explanation, who knows what could happen between Wonder Woman 1984 and Justice League. Maybe Diana somehow loses her ability to fly? Most likely, this plot hole will never be addressed and, honestly, I am OK with that.