WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac Season 1, streaming now on Netflix.
Netflix's Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac focuses on Saints, warriors chosen to protect the reincarnated Athena, who eventually graduate to knights. They're part of the Sanctuary, worshipers and soldiers who help Athena against vicious Greek gods like Poseidon and Hades, who want to end mankind.
However, Sanctuary turns on Athena due to a prophecy that suggests she will actually be the one to destroy humanity. In this reboot of the popular 1980s manga and anime franchise, Seiya and the Right Ones stick by Athena, because they think it's tampering to get her followers to betray her. And so, with the six-episode first season drawing the battle lines, let's look at how the warriors on both sides level up using various armors.
THE PEGASUS ARMOR
This can be worn by any Bronze Knight who has passed his tutelage, as seen with Seiya on Chamos Island. Marin teaches him how to harness his Cosmo (basically the franchise's take on the Force), and he enters into a tournament with fellow warriors to become the Pegasus Knight, harnessing the power of the constellation, as well as the mythological Greek horse.
Once he wins by pummeling Cassios, Seiya attains even more super-strength and speed, with energy blasts (aka the "Ryu-Sei-Ken") even more powerful than before. His attacks can now move faster than the speed of light, making it difficult for opponents to anticipate his moves, although the suit is only to be worn defending Athena's vessel and not for self-gain. Once Seiya wins the suit, he even defeats Shaina, a teacher who wanted it for herself, as his Cosmo grows exponentially.
THE GOLD ARMOR
This was first seen when Aiolis rescued Patricia, Seiya's sister, and took her to a mysterious island to train. When enemies came hunting her to weaponize her, the Gold Knight was able to throw epic blasts of energy at his opponents, while also calling down thunder and lightning like Thor.
The armor also allows its wearer to move faster than the speed of light, and they can even regenerate as if they too were gods. The last remaining one on Earth seems to have a special link to Seiya, and was up for grabs at the Galaxian Wars -- thrown by Sienna (Athena's new vessel). However, we did see another golden suit with Shaka astral projecting to Phoenix Nero to warn him they'll be fighting soon, hinting this armor can breach space and time as well.
THE BLACK ARMOR
This tech has been harnessed over decades via the franchise's villain, Vander Guraad. He's been studying the Gold Knights since he encountered Aiolis, and he's been using Sienna's grandad, Alman, as a source of information on how to take the knights' armors and make gear for his soldiers to fight the gods themselves.
Alman and Vander studied the science and mysticism behind these knights for years before they fell out, and since then Vander has been using science to assemble lemons. Phoenix Nero raided the Galaxian brawls, stealing and sending Vander info on Seiya's Gold Armor, which means the villain can now upgrade the Black Knights even further. The suit already boasts "Onyx" powers, which boosts the Cosmo of its wearers, making them as powerful as Seiya, although these suits come with a mind-control patch for wielders to be pawns of Vander.
THE PHOENIX ARMOR
This suit could only be worn by someone who's totally been consumed by hate, which is what Nero represents. He was separated from his sister, Andromeda Shun, and even though they'd be reunited six years later, this season sees him trying to kill her as he thinks personal connections and love make him weak.
It all began with Nero having to kill his demonic mentor six year prior on Death Queen Island, a volcanic place where the mysterious teacher murdered his own daughter, Esmeralda, to make Nero go over the edge. They loved each other deeply and the mentor knew there was only one way to cause Nero's Cosmo to grow. After the murder, Nero was so enraged at the girl's death, he punched straight through his teacher. His anger brought forth the Phoenix armor from the nearby lava pits, allowing Nero to wield the power of the sun and heal like a Gold Knight.
Streaming now on Netflix, Saint Seiya: Knights of the Zodiac stars Bryson Baugus, Emily Neves, Blake Shepard, Patrick Poole, Luci Christian, Adam Gibbs, Masakazu Morita, Fumiko Orikasa, Takahiro Sakurai, Hiroaki Miura, Satomi Sato and Katsuyuki Konishi.