Typically, we think of wings as fragile objects since they're easy to break in real life, but when it comes to combat, writers like to make them stronger than they actually are for the sake of Rule of Cool.
For example, wings are able to withstand things like explosions and lasers without breaking a single bone.
Things get a bit fussy with mechanical wings because it's usually expected that they're built to withstand damage in the first place. Yet it's also more likely for them to be destroyed because anything metal or robotic is prone to blowing up. So when a Cyborg or Mechanical Monster uses their wings to block an attack, it then acts as a tip for the audience that they're not going down anytime soon.
And because of their strength, winged characters will often use them to protect not only themselves, but also others from danger and various hazards, similar to how birds use their wings to protect their young from rain and predators in Real Life.
There are three common variations of the trope, though they're not required to be included here. Usually the wings...
- Wrap around the body like a protective blanket
- Bend forward, covering only the face and chest
- Or stretch out horizontally, usually acting as a makeshift umbrella to protect someone else's head from falling debris or rain.
When not used for self-defense, wings can also be used to comfort others or convey certain emotions, such as a Winged Humanoid using them to hide their face out of shame or embarrassment, or to provide a hug to a crying individual as if to protect them from whatever is upsetting them.
Similar to Feather Fingers, expect the wings to bend at otherwise-impossible angles in order to properly shield someone.
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing: Endless Waltz, the Wing Zero's Neo-Bird mode has been replaced with a set of angelic wings that double as shields against attacks and atmospheric reentry.
- Inverted with Mobile Suit Gundam 00s Gundam Dynames, which features a pair of large shoulder-mounted shields that give the appearance of wings when unfolded.
- Speed Grapher: Suitengu uses his blood wings to block bullets.
- Naruto: After the Time Skip, back when he still has Orochimaru's "curse mark", Sasuke can manifest hand-shaped wings from his back that he can use to shield himself. In the fight against Deidara he tried to block the latter's large exploding statue with them; one of said wings got blown to smithereens as a result.
- In Runaways, the team's onetime ally Tristan survived a massive non-nuclear explosion thanks to the large metal wings affixed to his back.
- Two mother birds shield their young from the rain during the Lil' April Showers segment in Bambi, the first being a red-headed robin who uses her wings to keep her young dry, though one sticks his head out and immediately gets hit by a raindrop in the face. Meanwhile, on the ground, a mother pheasant keeps her wings outstretched so her chicks can remain dry while they hurry home.
- Falcon's upgraded EXO-7 wings from the Marvel Cinematic Universe can be used as shields thanks to being made out of a special carbon fiber material, making it resistant to gunfire. Their shapeshifting capabilities are shown off the most in Captain America: Civil War, where they're seen to fold into shields to cover Falcon's front as he drops in between two IFID Security goons. Though they can also be used one at a time to cover his lower body while he's attacking, and also merge to form a bigger shield to protect his backside.
- King Ghidorah has use his wings as shields in two films. In 1991's Godzillavs King Ghidorah he folded his wings forward to deflect Godzilla's uranium heat ray after taking a first blast square in the chest, and in Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) King Ghidorah twice used a wing to block incoming missiles from hitting his heads and he tried to block Fire Godzilla's energy pulses with them, but only succeeded in having them vaporized by the heat.
- In the opening chapter of Good Omens, the angel Aziraphale uses his wings to shield himself from the first rain in the Garden of Eden.
- Good Omens (2019): Like in the book, Aziraphale uses his wings as a shield when it starts to rain in the Garden of Eden — but here, he uses them to shield Crowley, not himself.
- Shows up from time to time for the Humongous Mecha in varous Super Sentai shows, and by extend it's American spin-off Power Rangers:
- Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger / Power Rangers Wild Force: Gao Icarus / Isis Megazord can do this thanks to the wings of the Falcon that makes up the upper part of the mecha's body.
- Mahou Sentai Magiranger / Power Rangers Mystic Force: Magiking / Mystic Titan Megazord can use the wings of the Garuda / Thunderbird as shields.
- Lucifer: The titular Fallen Angel can use his wings to this effect after they regrow, though it's largely unnecessary since he's immune to mortal weapons. Played for Drama in the Season 3 finale when he shields Chloe Decker from multiple gunmen even though that immunity is suppressed, causing him serious injury.
- Through the Dragon's Eye: Gorwen uses his wings to protect himself from Charn's lightning bolts (though the costume isn't really flexible enough to pull this off convincingly).
- Dungeons & Dragons: The "Wings of Cover" spell lets a mage sprout wings of Pure Energy for an instant, just long enough to negate or disrupt an incoming attack mid-strike.
- Champions supplement Enemies III. The supervillain named Dark Seraph can use his wings as a shield to protect himself from enemy attacks.
- Spyro: Enter the Dragonfly: The Trope Namer and image source, and also the first game in the series where Spyro gains the ability to shield himself with his wings. However, here the ability is a Useless Useful Spell since it work on only one enemy, the Wizard Riptocs, who can only be defeated by using Spyro's wings to deflect their own attacks back at them.
- Later reused in the next game in the series; Spyro: A Hero's Tail to deflect boomerangs used by the gnorcs, as well as protecting from certain other hazards.
- In Banjo-Kazooie, Kazooie can perform the Wonderwing ability when she learns it from Bottles in Clanker's Cavern. When used, Kazooie can use her wings to shield Banjo, making them both temporarily invincible. Each Gold Feather Kazooie collects grants her and Banjo two seconds of invincibility. They can hold up to ten Gold Feathers, but once they learn a special cheat from finding Cheato the Spellbook a third time,note they can hold up to twenty.
- Super Smash Bros. Ultimate: The Wonderwing ability comes back as DLC Fighter Banjo-Kazooie's side special, though this time it appears as a Dash Attack with Kazooie folding her wings to protect Banjo's front while he charges.
- Darkstalkers: Morrigan and Lilith are able to harden their wings to protect themselves from harm. Dimitri can also use his Cape Wings in a similar fashion.
- Devil May Cry 4: Credo's "Angelo" form has one of his wings turned into a shield that can block frontal attacks.
- In the MMORPG Aion, player characters who are killed will huddle on the ground with their wings domed over them, shielding their body until they're either resurrected or time out and respawn at their spawn point.
- Mega Man X8: The Final Boss has a Desperation Attack where he covers himself with his robot wings while teleporting every 3 seconds; the screen will slowly darken until it goes black, and you'll then die, unless you quickly attack the boss to make him uncover himself and then hit him some more to damage him.
- During the ending cutscene of the orc campaign in WarCraft III, Thrall charges his hammer with electricity and throws it at Mannoroth. Mannoroth merely covers himself with his wings, which deflect the hammer away. The hit does open a tiny crack on one of his wings, though.
- Tekken: Angel and Devil sport a distinctive blocking animation in Tekken 2 that has them using their wings to block incoming attacks. This is purely cosmetic, however, and was removed for later games. In Angel's ending for Tekken Tag Tournament 2, she uses her wings to block Devil's beam attacks at one point.
- The Wonderful 101: The Hah-Gonay enemies can cover most of their bodies with their wings. Not only do they guard against attacks, but they also shoot spikes. The best way around this defense is to pry the wings apart with Unite Claw.
- Dead Fantasy 2: During one of the fights, Rachel fires an energy attack at Kairi and Rikku. Rinoa sweeps in from behind and folds her wings around them, protecting them from the attack.
- My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: In order to save Starlight Glimmer from her nightmare in A Royal Problem, Princess Celestia has to defeat the dream versions of Nightmare Moon and Daybreaker. While the two villains are busy fighting each other, Celestia uses both of her wings to put a stop to their Beam-O-War and flips her wings to toss their attacks right back at them, vaporizing them from Starlight's dream.
- X-Men: One episode had Archangel battling against his "creator" Apocalypse, attacking him with his signature Feather Flechettes. However, the mutant villain simply enlarges his hands to reflect the flechettes back at Archangel, who hastily shields himself from his own flechettes with his metallic wings.
- Skylanders Academy:
- In Return to Cynder, Cynder uses her wings to protect herself and Spyro from the debris caused by the explosive Beam-O-War duel between her and her father, Malefor.
- During Spyro's rematch with Malefor in the Season 2 finale, Malefor douses Spyro in a powerful blast of fire breath. At first, it seems like the smaller dragon is finished, only for the smoke to clear out and reveal Spyro hiding behind his wings completely unscathed, much to Malefor's surprise. Justified, since Spyro is a rare and special breed of dragon that are known to have impenetrable scales all over their bodies to withstand such attacks.
- The titular hero from Batfink provides the page quote, as he's an anthropomorphic grey bat with metallic wings that can withstand anything ranging from missiles to bullets. Every time he uses them to protect himself or others, he says some variation of his famous line, "My wings are like a shield of steel!"