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The crystal stone in Wonder Woman 1984 grants wishes, with a twist:

  • Diane gets Steve back, but slowly loses her powers
  • Barbara becomes powerful, losing her "soul" (it is difficult to estimate the rate of this loss)
  • Maxwell gets the power of the crystal, slowly losing his health
  • various people then get their wishes granted by Maxwell but he explicitly requests something back, and gets it immediately

With this in mind, my questions are:

  • how does the crystal (as a stone) decides what to take back from someone? Randomly? An important thing for them?
  • can you get several wishes? Maxwell is seen frantically looking for someone he did not grant a wish, and yet Barbara gets two wishes (admittedly, one from the stone, and one from Maxwell)
  • why the "things" one loses after a wish are slow or fast to happen?

I realize that these questions were not raised in the movie (or I missed them, or are part of the plot and one should not dig deeper than that) so a comics-based answer is welcome as well.

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  • 1
    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Monkey%27s_Paw
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 8:00
  • 1
    That should be an answer. I was aware of the trope but had completely forgotten the origin.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jan 6, 2021 at 12:52
  • If the logic you're looking for was in the film, it would be quite a bit better.
    – Mithoron
    Commented Jan 9, 2021 at 15:13

1 Answer 1

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Here is the key dialogue which helps:

Firstly, the stone's catastrophic effects on past civilizations:

DIANA: The stone has traveled the world to seemingly random and different places, but they all have one thing in common.

STEVE: What?

DIANA: Their civilizations collapsed catastrophically, without a trace as to why.

Quotations from MovieQuotesAndMore.

And then the stone's true origin:

DIANA: Dechalafrea Ero.

STEVE: What’s that?

DIANA: A very bad God. The God of Lies, Dolos, Mendacius, Duke of Deception. He’s been called by many names. But if he’s the one who empowered that stone, there has to be a trick.

BARBARA: What do lies have to do with granting wishes? It seems more like a Dreamstone to me.

STEVE: Wishes with a trick. The Monkey’s Paw. Beware what you wish for. It grants your wish, but takes your most valued possession.

The stone clearly possesses a kind of independent intelligence. The game-changing twist is when Max Lord becomes the stone by a clever wish:

MAX: “One great wish.” I’ve been waiting. I wish to be you. The Dreamstone itself.

Then Max becomes the controlling intelligence of the stone.

Q: how does the crystal (as a stone) decides what to take back from someone? Randomly? An important thing for them?

The thing taken from someone will trigger regret - either because what is taken is so valuable, or because what is taken renders the gift given essentially meaningless. The stone always has the last laugh!

Q: Can you get several wishes?

In general, no. This is why Max employs the workaround of getting others to wish for him, since as the embodiment of the stone he can grant them.

MAX: You made a wish too, huh? They’re a bitch, aren’t they? Make you pay a price, but I’ve never been one for rules. Luckily, I have a way to reverse it. The answer is always more.

BARBARA: But you only get one wish.

MAX: But I, my dear, grant the wishes. So I take what I want in return. There’s nothing in this world someone doesn’t have. I’ll rebuild my health, wish by wish, organ by organ, if I have to. I’ll be invincible.

Max is likewise able to extract penalties from wishers and then bestow the benefits either on himself or on others.

MAX LORD: That’s right. “I wish.” Take it. Take it. It’s all yours. It’s all yours for the taking!

[people continue making wishes]

MAX LORD: And I… I take your health and your strength. Give her your rage and your prowess. And I take your power. I take your life force.

Q: Why the "things" one loses after a wish are slow or fast to happen?

The answer lies in the trickery of the stone. The stone sometimes extracts penalties slowly, ensuring it is too late for people to take action to put things right. This is what enabled the stone to insidiously destroy past civilizations. However, as the embodiment of the stone, Max abandons such subtlety and sometimes extracts the penalty immediately to gain an advantage.

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