When it comes to the Marvel films, most people have a good idea of who the characters are. However, as the MCU begins its next big phase, we as an audience are going to be introduced to a lot of new characters who are not going to get their own films to flesh them out. For viewers who have not read the comics, it can be confusing (and downright irritating when you meet those fans who have and are condescending about it). At the end of the day, you don’t have to read the comics to enjoy the films, or the Cinematic Universe as a whole. However, it can be helpful to know the comic origins of the characters who won’t be getting their own stand alone films. Fortunately, I have read the comics and I have no qualms in helping my like minded MCU fans fill in blanks and learn a little more about the characters they are seeing on the big screen.
This week, we’re taking a look at the reality altering, super powerful, spell casting wonder that is the Scarlet Witch.
I feel the best way to start this installment is with a big, fat shrug. Comic book characters pass through multiple iterations through the years, changing and evolving as the readers do, but the Wanda of the comics and the Wanda of the MCU are simply two different people. Don’t expect literary context to be much help when it comes to the future of the newest female addition to the Avengers.
To start, the Scarlet Witch of the comics is a mutant, and made her first appearance in X-Men #4 in 1964. Unfortunately, she is not a focal character in this issue, which serves mainly as a continuation of the run’s previous installments. The X-Men celebrate their one year anniversary, we learn that Magneto saved the Scarlet Witch from an angry mob who wanted to kill her for her mutant abilities, and Magneto and Professor X fight each other with the help of their respective groups. Not a lot to go on, I’m afraid.
Fortunately, Wanda does get more development as the X-Men series continues. She later leaves the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and goes on to be a force for good, finally joining the Avengers in Avengers #16 in 1965. Ironically, this issue also saw Iron Man, Thor, Wasp, and Giant-Man leave the Avengers, and was noted as ushering in a new team of Avengers, featuring both Quicksilver and Hawkeye.
As for her powers…they’re kind of hard to nail down. Sometimes they are described as magic, other times as reality-altering hex magic. The difference being that instead of magically altering things, Wanda changes the likelihood that things will happen. Probability powers for the win!
As someone who regularly reads about human disasters such as Tony Stark, let me be the first to say that Wanda’s personal life is one of the most complex and confusing in all of comics history. She alternately goes from being a villain to a hero, all-powerful to harrowingly broken, and stable to unstable in between issues and arcs. She’s been both a mother and wife to the Vision, only to have her world destroyed when she learns her children were an illusion (sort of) and her husband is dismantled and reassembled as a truly emotionless robot.
Additionally, she has also previously been romantically involved with Power Man, Simon Williams, who is the Vision’s…brother (sort of)…
It’s extremely complicated.
Honestly, the best way to describe Wanda is as a state of constant flux. Marvel seems eager to reinvent her after the events of arcs like House of M and The Children’s Crusade. It’s hard to be a fan favorite when you do things like: wipe out the mutant race, crash the Quinjet into Avenger’s Tower, make your husband barf up five Ultrons, and basically break reality.
And that’s sugar-coating it.
However, it’s important to note one major thing about Wanda: she is not crazy. There are a few arcs that pointedly seem to characterize her as insane rather than really explore her past traumas and possibly undiagnosed mental illness as a result of said traumas.
I mean, how would you be if you went through everything she has?
Wanda currently has her own solo run to anyone interested in learning more about her growth in the modern comics.
In terms of her future in the comics, Wanda is still a regular, but is in the middle of reinventing herself. Whether it will be enough for readers to lay the past to rest, only time will tell.
After all is said and done and blown up, this is really all you need to know: Wanda is a mutant and can use magic/probability control, she was married to the Vision, she had two sons, she is Magneto’s daughter and Quicksilver’s sister, she dated Simon Williams, she is an X-Man and an Avenger, she is one of the most powerful people is the world and beyond her name, her brother, her abstract ability to use magic and the color ‘red’…
…absolutely nothing here made it into the movies. Sure, there are rumors of Simon Williams making an appearance, and Vision is certainly a character in the MCU, but like him (if not more so), much of Wanda’s original story has either been reinvented, glossed over, or left out entirely, The Wanda of the MCU is a completely blank slate.
So whatever is in store for her in the rest of the MCU…your guess is as good as mine.