The Scarlet Witch has had a rough few decades in the comics. But his MCU journey has been just as rocky and hasn’t served the character well.
Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has undergone significant changes to separate from her comic book origin. For example, Magneto was no longer Wanda’s father (before Marvel’s own retcon in 2014 Axis), and her powers came from the Mind Stone instead of being a mutant. But even though she didn’t have a similar origin to her comic book counterpart, she was treated similarly in the world of tragedy, as her character suffered more than any other Avenger. In doing so, he proved that the live-action world served the character as badly as his inspiration.
Many MCU heroes were explored in their own stories that loosely followed the comic book version. For example, Tony Stark went his own way that maintained the spirit of the character but with stories that only loosely followed the source material. Meanwhile, Captain America covered decades of his development to show how he changed over the years, and how that change was as natural as any. But Wanda was tied to two decades of tragedy that pushed her into the life she had in the movies.
Marvel Comics Hampered Scarlet Witch’s MCU Growth
Before appearing live, Wanda’s most infamous moments came in three series of pivotal events: Avengers: Disassembled (by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch), House of M (by Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel) and Avengers: Children’s Crusade (by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung). All three series explored Wanda’s mental breakdown after realizing her manifested children had been taken from her.
In Avengers: Disassembled, this hiatus led to the Avengers disbanding the team after its magic attack resulted in the deaths of many Avengers. However, the Marvel Universe-defining event House of M had him manipulated by Magneto to create a world where their family ruled. When she realized the truth, Wanda decimated the mutant population by sadly saying “No more mutants”. Young Avengers: Children’s Crusade was more positive because he saw her reunited with her children, but her friends alienated her due to her past actions. Essentially, she was shunned for her actions even though she needed help with her sanity.
While the MCU movies have never penetrated so deeply into her psyche and family relationships, Wanda has always been a victim of loss as she lost her brother, husband, children, and family within a few years. Her desperation to try and regain a sense of what had been lost left her open to corruption by the Darkhold, and she became a murderous villain who would destroy the multiverse to reclaim her children. However, following her three most tragic comedic storylines, the MCU’s Wanda has been nothing more than a tragic villain from the start. Thus, Wanda never had a moment of independence to find herself as she was pushed to be an enemy.
Wanda’s redemption will be a difficult journey
Wanda Vision and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hit the gas to bring these iconic Scarlet Witch stories to life. However, showing her descent into villainy ultimately made the previous years feel more like a subtle backdrop for her growth as a trauma-induced enemy. While it’s exciting to watch her fight Doctor Strange, it’s hard to ignore the poor choices of using something like trauma as a means to create an on-screen villain. While it might seem like Wanda’s final sacrifice redeemed her and left the character to die, there’s still a chance she’ll return. That said, if she did return, some mistakes will need to be avoided to make Wanda’s redemption feel deserved and powerful.
In order for Wanda’s return to feel better than the circumstances in which she left, it will be crucial that she faces the consequences of her actions head-on and acknowledges her faults. More importantly, she will also have to defend the fact that much of her descent was due to the fact that those who claimed to care for her were not there for her when she was struggling alone. Also, now that she has more control over her powers, she can finally become a hero and fight for the right reasons, even if people don’t like or trust her. She used to be young and unsure of her abilities, but now she’s the Scarlet Witch, which might help her show that she’s more than capable of doing the right thing.
Wanda is human and has flaws like everyone else. She made mistakes and might get a second chance. But the only way it could work would be to untangle the stories that inspired her first arc and forge a new path that was both quirky but celebratory to the later tales that painted Wanda as a hero.