What is Wandas evil name?
Is Scarlet Witch Actually a Villain in the MCU?
Most heroes are forged from tragedy. Through a terrible loss or internal suffering, their will to protect others manifests and they rise up to become their best self. For other heroes, that path isn’t so straightforward. Some, like Wanda Maximoff, even stray from that familiar path.
Ultron once said to Wanda, “I can hurt them but you will tear them apart.” His ominous words have proven to be a prophecy for Wanda as the MCU continues its onscreen expansion. Join us as we analyze the differences between MCU Wanda and her comics counterpart as well as dive in to the events that led to her actions in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Is Scarlet Witch a villain? Peer through the chaos and decide for yourself.
Spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ahead.
Who Is The Scarlet Witch?
As with most portrayals of well-known super heroes, there are stark differences and similarities between film and comic book versions. For a complex figure such as Wanda Maximoff, those details are even more apparent. On screen, Wanda is removed from her Romani heritage and, originally for licensing reasons, she lacks any connection to Magneto. But another major difference is her title itself: the Scarlet Witch.
When she first appears in the comics as a member of Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, Wanda is already known as Scarlet Witch. But by the end of her MCU TV series, WandaVision, she has taken on the name Scarlet Witch, a mystical persona described in the Darkhold. James Robinson’s Scarlet Witch series of books touches upon this history of Wanda’s name, connecting the title to a lineage that includes her mother, Natalya.
In the MCU, Wanda’s adoption of this identity is a step forward in her character development. Against Agatha Harkness, her devious mentor on screen and in the books, Wanda sees who she can be. In Multiverse of Madness, Wanda even displays her sinister magic in a Dreamwalking montage that evokes Charmed visuals with elements of Sam Raimi horror. She leaves behind remorse for her past and fully embraces the innate power she possesses.
Wanda’s Background of Grief and Trauma
Throughout Phase 3 and Phase 4, Wanda has been stacked with grief and trauma. Along with her twin brother Pietro, she volunteers to be experimented on by HYDRA all in the name of revenge for their parents’ death. The Maximoff twins, on screen and on the page, always end up switching sides to fight with the Avengers but in Age of Ultron, Pietro is killed in battle. This loss is only the first of many for Wanda.
With Vision, Wanda finds a brief respite from her world’s unending sorrow and turmoil. As a new Avenger, and someone only beginning to test the scope of her power, Wanda accidentally causes civilian deaths in Lagos. Iron Man ostracizes her and tries to establish the Sokovia Accords. Vision, however, sees beyond her mistakes and shares with her a love that is patient, kind, and strong enough to endure contentious Avengers infighting as well as death.
Aside from her personal losses, Wanda’s team continually lets her down. She’s separated from the rest of the world, isolated in her own guilt, and constantly asked to put the world above her own needs. Ultimately, during the Battle of Wakanda, Wanda must choose between giving the world a chance to survive and killing her soulmate. Sure, impossible decisions are the expectation of a super hero, but at what cost? Even super heroes can feel pain. And with that pain comes a reaction.
All’s Fair in Love and War
The mistakes of a super hero can’t compare to the mistakes of an everyday person. Their powers and their choices can have a huge impact on the entire world, sometimes even the universe. For Wanda, she is a being connected to the entire Multiverse — talk about pressure. When enough pressure builds, there is inevitably a breaking point.
After Thanos is defeated, most everyone returns except for a notable few, including Vision. Wanda consoles herself by manipulating reality and creating her own perfect life in a town called Westview. She reconstructs Vision and even conceives twins, Billy and Tommy. Of course, for Wanda all good things must come to an end. She must return Westview to its actual reality, but in the process she loses Vision and her children all over again. This leads to her plan in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: take America Chavez’s star portal power to gain control of the Multiverse. Then, she can be reunited with her children.
Wait, but, isn’t that a thing villains do? Take over the world for their own selfish reasons, sacrificing anyone who gets in their way? Well, yes, it is. On the other hand, we have experienced devastating loss alongside Wanda in multiple films and TV series. The audience knows why she does what she does. She’s grieving the loss of her brother, parents, husband, and children, yet has the power to correct things – what would you do if given that chance?
At one point, she says to Doctor Strange, “You break the rules and become the hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.” Fair, unfortunately, was never part of the super hero deal.
Justify My Love
Wanda causes the audience to consider perspective. In these horrific situations, filled with impossible decisions and unspeakable loss, what exactly is fair? As an Avenger, the fights are dangerous and the stakes are high. They know what they’re getting into and the potential for sacrifice. But Wanda’s quote is referring to something else: a double standard among super heroes.
Since the beginning, she faces distrust and punishment for her mistakes. Still, she does what needs to be done against Thanos despite the hole it rips in her heart. Then, right in front of her, the Mad Titan shows that her sacrifice meant absolutely nothing. In that moment, Wanda begins her shift from struggling hero to hardened survivor. While Thanos thought he was saving the universe, Wanda is merely trying to repair her own world.
Returning to her discussion with Strange, Wanda is referring to the sorcerer’s risky heroics. He gambles with the fate of the universe by giving the Time Stone to Thanos and even tampers with the Multiverse to help Spider-Man. His actions caused a multiversal shift of reality and immeasurable pain, yet no legislation was proposed against sorcery — granted, everyone’s memory was wiped at the end of Spider-Man: No Way Home but that’s beside the point. Doctor Strange uses forbidden magic like Dreamwalking and he’s a hero. But Wanda does it to bring back her sons and she’s a monster.
Is Scarlet Witch Beyond Saving?
On the subject of Dreamwalking, it all boils down to purpose. Strange’s purpose is a last resort to restore the Multiverse. Wanda is trying to murder a teenager. Seems easy to judge, right? Maybe. But heartbreak causes anyone to lose parts of themselves, especially the reasonable parts. And grief isn’t just about dealing with depression — there’s a whole spectrum of responses from anger and denial to bargaining and acceptance.
Because of America Chavez, Wanda is able to reach that stage of acceptance, even though it might hurt more than anything else she’s faced before. In that moment, the Scarlet Witch redeems herself. Wanda is capable of seeing the error of her ways. Can the same be said of Thanos? What about Hela or Kaecilius or Ultron? Maybe, in the end, the Scarlet Witch is more similar to a Dark Phoenix figure, a character with dual identities who straddles light and dark. Or, she might just be a villain capable of making the right choices from time to time.
One of the many reasons Scarlet Witch has captured fans’ imaginations is her potential for good and evil. Her power is enchanting and magical to behold, but she also has the capability to rip apart her team and rewrite the entire world. Let’s not even talk about those three little words we know might be in the future now.
What do you think is next for Scarlet Witch? Will she resurface as a hero or something else? Keep the (spoiler-conscious) conversation going over at side.show/geekgroup, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!
Wanda Maximoff is a Powerful Woman, Like Lilith. Let’s Not Turn Her Into a Villain.
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Dr Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (via fandomwire.com).
“You break the rules and become the hero. I do it, and I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.”
These words, spoken by Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch) in the official trailer for new film Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, have been echoing in my head since I heard them. What others might have heard as a villain origin story, I heard as a powerful woman pointing out the injustices leveled at her. Wanda was being villainized because people were scared of what her power could do to the status quo.
As a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), Wanda has had quite the evolution, and the theories being crafted about her character in this movie seem to be forgetting that. Wanda was introduced as a villain in the second Avengers movie, The Age of Ultron. She and her twin brother Pietro eventually join the heroes’ side, but in the final battle, her brother is killed. Vision, another superhero, supports Wanda through her grief, and the two fall in love. Unfortunately, Vision is eventually killed too. Wanda leaves the Avengers feeling angry that both Pietro and Vision sacrificed themselves for what was supposed to be the greater good.
That’s where the series WandaVision, an American sitcom-parody-turned-mystery, picks up. In her state of grief, Wanda creates an alternate reality where she can live with Vision in domestic bliss—something they didn’t get to experience when Vision was alive. What Wanda doesn’t realize is that in creating this reality, she inadvertently took over a suburban town and trapped its citizens in her script. (In the MCU, creation cannot happen without some tether to reality, so when Wanda created her idealized life, it was directly tied to a physical town and all the people within it.) Wanda tries to ignore reality bumping up against her world, but once she realizes she is causing the citizens distress, she disbands the world she’d created.
The power of WandaVision was that it gave Wanda space to grieve, while allowing her to realize the full scope of her powers. She created an entire universe with the power of her grief, but when that power became destructive, she had to make difficult decisions.
Fear about a woman’s power is not a new phenomenon. In fact, it goes back millennia, to the time of Lilith. Lilith is described in some sources as Adam’s first wife and in others as a female demon. In the time of Creation, Lilith and Adam were made from the same clay, equals in every way, until Adam decided he wanted a subservient mate. When Lilith refused, she left Eden, choosing her own independence and power over submission to Adam. Traditionally Lilith can be read as a cautionary tale that reminds women to stay submissive. But if we re-examine her, Lilith is a woman with the power to re-establish world order, much like Wanda.
What does this mean for the portrayal of Wanda in the new movie? Speculation before an MCU movie or series premieres is common for fans. The long-awaited sequel for Dr. Stephen Strange, a neurosurgeon-turned-sorcerer with the power to manipulate time, is rumored to combine several characters from other movies. For this movie, the most pressing question I see is who will be the villain to Dr. Strange’s hero. Overwhelmingly, it comes down to Wanda—and that’s disappointing.
Now, I’m not opposed to seeing a female villain battle the often arrogant Strange, but Wanda being considered an obvious choice for a villain gave me pause. Because she caused people harm in WandaVision, many are quick to label her actions within the series as villainous. But it’s important to remember that Wanda’s mental control over others wasn’t intentional—it was an unfortunate side effect of her desire for a life with Vision. Once she realized she could not have that life without harming innocent people, she released them. No true supervillain would do that.
There’s an unfortunate double-standard at play here. When Dr. Strange repeatedly interferes in timelines and alters people’s memories, his actions are excused as necessary, even heroic. When Wanda does it, she’s villainized—much like Lilith, labeled as a temptress who leads people off the righteous path simply because she refuses to be ordered around by someone who was supposed to be her equal.
The trailer for Dr. Strange hints at another troubling idea. In it, viewers cannot quite tell if Wanda exists on this plane or within another reality of her own creation. Some have theorized that an outside force is controlling her—some other villain who is using Wanda as a puppet for his own means. This theory makes Wanda out to be an empty shell waiting for a male force to fill her and give her will, a common misogynistic trope across both realistic and fantasy stories. As if she needs someone else’s powers to make her do anything! Even in this instance, she cannot be a powerful villain in her own right—she has to be someone else’s pawn to explain why she’s so powerful.
To neatly pack Wanda back into the box of a villain essentially erases all the work that was done in WandaVision. What’s more, it reduces Wanda, a complex character, to someone one-dimensional. Why can’t we understand Wanda as a powerful being, rather than labeling her a hero or a villain?
It’s easy to see the parallels between Wanda and Lilith. Lilith’s power and desire for autonomy had to be villainized to discourage women from calling for their own freedoms. Even unconsciously, Wanda’s powers disrupted the very fabric of reality—imagine what she could do consciously and with practice! Wanda could completely change the way the world operates, which, like Lilith, would terrify the patriarchy.
I hope I’m wrong, and that Wanda doesn’t turn out to have a villainous arc in the upcoming movie. If she does, that will only perpetuate the idea that powerful women, both mythical and real, are evil temptresses here to sway men to a dark path. Both Wanda and Lilith are wild and unkempt, and exist to show us what could be. If we begin to reject the labels that the patriarchy puts on us and claim our own power, imagine the world we could create.
Scarlet Witch Deserves Better Than Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness
Marvel’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ignores everything that made WandaVision great, and it’s a massive step backwards for Wanda Maximoff/The Scarlet Witch.
By Lacy Baugher | May 7, 2022 |
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This article contains major Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness spoilers. We have a spoiler free review here.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is many things: a trippy reality-bending visual spectacle, a surprisingly grotesque horror film, and a standard superhero sequel that ticks a series of necessary boxes in aid of the larger franchise machine (all topped off by a heaping dose of cameos, callbacks, and general fanservice aimed squarely at the most hardcore of fans). What it is not, however, is the story it was advertised as.
Following the success of WandaVision, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness leans pretty heavily into the idea that this is a continuation of the story of Wanda Maximoff as much as that of Stephen Strange, and its promotional materials certainly imply that what we’re about to watch is a team-up of sorts between the Avengers’ two most magical members. That it’s actually all a total fake-out, and the Scarlet Witch turns out to be the villain of the piece, a woman who spends the entire movie fanatically trying to murder a child in order to claim her powers, should have been an emotionally devastating gut-punch, and maybe it would have been, in a world where WandaVision didn’t exist. (Just kidding, no it wouldn’t. But at least the twist wouldn’t have felt like such an insult.)
Part of the promise inherent in the choice to dismantle the existing Marvel Television universe originally spread across multiple channels and streamers in favor of bringing the entire franchise together under one Disney+ roof was not only that it meant big-name film characters would find their way to the small screen, but that the MCU would become a true universe at last, with each piece building on and informing the others.
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But beyond the existence of Wanda’s children, Speed and Wiccan—and Wanda’s badass Scarlet Witch costume—Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness essentially ignores WandaVision entirely. So much so that it often feels like the people involved in making the movie didn’t even watch the show.
Which, as it turns out, they mostly didn’t. According to a Rolling Stone interview, director Sam Raimi “just [saw] key moments of some episodes” that he “was told directly impact our storyline,” a fact which is both disappointing and maddening all at once. Did those key moments…not include the series finale?
Gone is the nuanced understanding of what Wanda has been forced to sacrifice in the name of the greater good, the show’s delicate depiction of grief and the emotional trauma it leaves behind, and its innate understanding that her desire for a family wasn’t about power, it was about peace. In its place is a sort of maternal madness, in which Wanda is essentially only defined by her desire to find some version, any version of her sons.
Equally erased are Wanda’s hard-won steps forward, mentally and emotionally speaking. Yes, in WandaVision she did something terrible in the name of her grief by mind-controlling a town, but she realized it was wrong and chose to undo it herself, with the full knowledge and understanding of the pain it would cause her to have to say goodbye to the family she made. That’s growth. And it’s something Multiverse of Madness conveniently chooses to ignore, essentially telling the exact same story again, just with a higher body count and a lot less personal agency (after all, in the film, Wanda’s also been corrupted by an evil magic book known as the Darkhold, so it’s not even clear how many of her choices are her own).
Instead of seeing a story that continued that journey, that allowed Wanda to move forward, to find a way out of her depression and a new purpose for the life she still has to live, we got one in which Marvel’s best and most nuanced depiction of trauma is abandoned in favor of a fairly generic supervillain origin story, just one with deeply creepy undertones about motherhood and female emotion.
It’s clearly not an accident that her sudden obsession with motherhood reads a lot like a depiction of “female hysteria”, but it is disappointing in the year of our Lord 2022, after decades of commentary on the myriad and various ways that the comics these films are based on have done Wanda dirty in this same specific way. Turning a popular female character’s nuanced emotional state into what is essentially a form of “womb madness” reads like nothing so much as an insult to every female fan sitting in the multiplex.
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