Hollywood often portrays angels as either naked cherubs floating in the air or as bumbling esoteric creatures trying to protect human beings from themselves.
A popular storyline consists of an angel trying to earn his wings by doing good deeds for a human being on Earth. If the angel succeeds in his mission, God gives him his wings. Some movies even depict angels as deceased humans who, before entering the pearly gates, must earn their eternal reward.
Catholicism repudiates all of that. First of all, human beings are not angels and they can never become angels, just as animals never become human and plants never become animals. When human beings die and go to heaven, they are then called saints. Angels are good spirits who already live in heaven. They were never human in a previous life. Their test took place before God created the earth or Adam and Eve.
No one earns their way to heaven, either. Pelagianism is the heresy that anyone can work their way to salvation. Saint Augustine vehemently opposed this idea in the fifth century AD. He taught that any good work, corporal or spiritual works of mercy, could only be done efficaciously by the power of divine grace. Whereas Martin Luther proposed the notion of faith alone (sola fide), St. Augustine would have preferred the idea of grace alone (sola gratia). Grace is needed to accept and persevere in faith and to perform meritorious good works.
It is euphemism and anthropomorphism to speak of angels earning their wings. As spirits with no bodies, they actually neither need nor have wings. Religious art depicts angels with wings and saints with halos. Both are devices used to symbolize something invisible to the human eye.
In the movie It’s A Wonderful Life, Clarence the angel needs to save George Bailey in order to earn his wings. If Clarence had really been a guardian angel, he would have already had his “wings.” As an angel, he would have already gone to heaven, and there is no. need to prove anything once there.