The DC movie universe heard that you like your superheroes to come with a hefty dose of magic, so Patty Jenkins and the people behind Wonder Woman 1984 put a bunch of be-careful-what-you-wish for fantastical thingamabobs into Diana Prince’s latest adventure. In fact, the entire plot of WW84 seems to revolve around magical rules that go down like an unholy cocktail of Tolkien appendices and J.K. Rowling rough drafts. Early in the story, Diana (Gal Gadot) assures us that her mystical objects aren’t really that mystical, but they are embedded with something that gives them inexplicable power — e.g., her lasso is embedded with truth, and who among us can handle that? But in terms of wonky object origin stories, this is pretty tame. In order to work through our broader confusion over all the extraordinary rocks, weapons, and accessories, here’s a brief ranking of the magical objects in WW84, starting with the ones we (mostly) understand. Spoilers ahead.
Wonder Woman’s Lasso
This one is easy, right? Wonder Woman’s lasso makes you tell the truth. It was invented by writer William Moulton Marston, a real-life pioneer of an early form of a lie-detector test who was also the creator of Wonder Woman. As a magical object, the comics would have us believe that the lasso was imbued with power by the goddess Aphrodite (or forged by the god Hephaestus), and can be used to force someone to obey the commands of the person wielding it, or more specifically, to force that person to tell the truth. Sounds simple enough. And perhaps the former, broader explanation is why in WW84, Diana uses the Lasso of Truth to whip bullets away more than she uses it to get people to spill the beans. In fact, she actually ends up explaining to Steve Trevor that the lasso doesn’t just force people to be honest, but it also reveals truths, before using it to show rather than tell Steve about a particular Amazonian hero from her past. Are there any bounds to this mystical rope? Unclear.
Wonder Woman’s Bracelets
These are technically called “the Bracelets of Submission,” and if we follow Diana’s logic about how magical objects operate (they become physically imbued with some intangible human quality, e.g., the ability to submit?), then the mystical power of these bracelets is fairly simple: They force people, bullets, etc. to yield to the wearer. (If you weren’t already aware, Marston was deeply engrossed with bondage as a concept.) But how did these bracelets come to be? They were either once again empowered to be indestructible by Aphrodite, who gave them to the Amazonians as both a symbol of their allegiance to the goddess and a visual warning against submitting to men; or the bracelets are a relic of the Amazonians’ past enslavement to men, which they wear as perpetual penance for having ever fallen under the control of the opposite sex. In this telling, Diana’s pair is special: Forged from the remains of Aegis, her bracelets produce force-field-like powers, explaining the whole anti-artillery nature of the accessories, which is their primary function in WW1984.
Wonder Woman’s Tiara
It’s possible that Wonder Woman’s tiara is not actually magical. It might just be a boomerang, which is how it operates in Jenkins’s universe. That said, in a 2005 comic, she did use the tiara to cut Superman’s throat, which implies it has some kind of non-terrestrial powers. It’s also been associated with Diana’s telepathy, and/or the ability to combat telepathic attacks. But in WW84, it seems the object is simply imbued with the power of convenience.
Wonder Woman’s Invisible Plane
Because (spoiler!) Wonder Woman eventually gains the ability to fly on her own by the end of this film, the brief appearance of an invisible jet midway through WW1984 ends up feeling a little superfluous. How, exactly does Wonder Woman make the plane invisible? The answer is that the script really needs her to — both because the nostalgia of all who recall a transparent plane from the ’70s show is incredibly strong, and because Diana and Steve needed to fly to the Middle East undetected, in a time when radar renders Steve’s extraordinary pilot skills moot — so she just does. After muttering about how her father was good at making objects magical, thinking really hard, producing some sort of physical force from her own body, BAM! The plane is invisible. The comics present other origin stories for the plane (either Diana built it when she was young and it became summonable thanks to her telepathic tiara, or it is actually a living alien creature and … well, this involves crystals and artificial intelligence and it’s complicated), but there’s not hint of them in the Pattyverse.
In WW84, we’re told that Asteria’s armor — that cool all-gold outfit in Diana’s closet — withstood the attacks of wicked men from ancient times. That said, Kristen Wiig’s Cheetah is effortlessly able to rip the wings off the top pretty easily. As far as magical abilities go, it seems like Asteria’s Armor has the power to repel terrible Viking-esque dudes, but, oddly, has nothing against mutant big-cat powers. If the magical objects of WW84 were entered into a kind of rock-paper-scissors dynamic, we’d be told ahead of time that cheetah beats gold armor, every time.
Steve’s Fanny Pack
The magic of Steve Trevor/Chris Pine’s fanny pack rests in its ability to disappear. After making a quantum leap into the body of some unsuspecting ’80s bro, Steve tries on several different outfits, including a variety of fanny packs, before settling on the one, amounting to a fun moment that simultaneously scans as an unsettling deleted scene from Black Mirror’s “San Junipero.” In any case, its sudden absence in later scenes in WW84 is keenly felt.
This is the big one, the Aladdin’s lamp MacGuffin that powers the entire movie. Recovered from a corrupt jewelry store nestled inside of the mall from Stranger Things, the Dreamstone is the thing that gives Kristen Wiig her Cheetah powers, brings Chris Pine back from the dead (kinda), and grants Max Lord (Pedro Pascal) the ability to grant other people wishes. The Dreamstone is presented in the movie as a double-edged sword; although the wisher gets their wish, the wish granter (the Stone, and later Pascal himself) takes something from them in return. Steve and Diana frequently refer to it as a “Monkey’s Paw” situation, a reference to the W.W. Jacobs horror short story published in 1902 (a pretty new piece of literature from the perspective of Steve, who, if you may recall, died in 1918). In “The Monkey’s Paw,” the consequences were similar: If you wished for something, you’d get it, but something horrible would happen as a kind of payment. And when Max Lord decides to become the Dreamstone, he somehow gets to choose the thing he’ll get from people in exchange for the wish he’s granting.
This creates an interesting question as to who or what benefited from the wish exchange prior to Max Lord. Sadly, WW1984 doesn’t give us much insight there; we learn that the difficult-to-contain Dreamstone made its way through multiple societies, noticeably before horrific disasters, but that’s about it. In the comics, the Dreamstone (also known as Materioptikon) was either created by Doctor Destiny as a weapon against the Justice League, or it is one of a dozen magical rocks created by a character named Dream of the Endless that has the potential to create damaging alternate realities. In WW84, it’s safe to assume some deity of some sort is behind it all.
Max Lord’s Hair
The oddest, most magical object of WW84 is Max Lord’s Donald Trump–esque hair, a cross between Biff Tannen in Back to the Future II and Leonardo DiCaprio circa the entire 1990s. If you didn’t recognize Pascal as Max Lord right away, you’d be forgiven, because his hair/wig is doing most of the work. This is magic deeper than the dawn of time, and we’re actually afraid to ever find out how it works.