Wanda Maximoff (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
Wanda Maximoff is a character portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) media franchise who is based on the Marvel Comics character of the same name (more commonly known as the Scarlet Witch). As of 2021[update], Wanda has appeared in a cameo in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (post-credits; 2014), a main role in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), a supporting role in Captain America: Civil War (2016), a main role in Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and a lesser role in Avengers: Endgame (2019), and the main role of the Disney+ miniseries WandaVision (2021), all of which take place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She will return in a supporting role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022).
|Marvel Cinematic Universe character|
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in the film Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015).
|First appearance||Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)|
|Adapted by||Joss Whedon|
|Portrayed by||Elizabeth Olsen|
Scarlet Witch debuted, together with her brother, Quicksilver, as a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men #4 (March 1964). They were depicted as reluctant villains, uninterested in Magneto's ideologies. Scarlet Witch was depicted as introverted and disdainful of her teammates. Stan Lee wrote the Avengers comic book, composed of the label's most prominent heroes. He eventually removed all of them, save for Captain America, and replaced them with villains from other comics: the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from the X-Men, and Hawkeye from Iron Man's adventures in Tales of Suspense. The team was known as "Cap's Kooky Quartet." Although common in later years, such a change in the roster of a superhero group was completely unprecedented. Some years later, Avengers writer Roy Thomas started a long-running romantic relationship between the Scarlet Witch and the Vision, considering that it would help with the series' character development. He selected those characters because they were only published in the Avengers comic book, so it would not interfere with other publications.
Steve Englehart succeeded Thomas as the writer of the Avengers. He gave her a more assertive personality, removed Quicksilver, and expanded her powers by turning her into an apprentice of witchcraft. The Vision and the Scarlet Witch married in Giant-Size Avengers #4 (June 1975), at the end of the Celestial Madonna arc. The couple starred in a limited series of four issues, The Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1982–83), by writer Bill Mantlo and penciller Rick Leonardi. The series returned in 1985 with twelve issues written by Steve Englehart and pencilled by Richard Howell. In this series, Scarlet Witch becomes pregnant magically and delivers two sons. After the loss of her children in West Coast Avengers, and the destruction of the Avengers in the Avengers Disassembled (2004-2005) storyline, House of M saw Scarlet Witch suffering a mental breakdown and creating a reality where mutants ruled over humans, followed by one where the mutant gene was largely removed. In later years, the Young Avengers Wiccan and Speed were discovered to be her reincarnated children, and Scarlet Witch comics focused on the witchcraft aspect of her powers.
Adaptation and appearancesEdit
In the 1990s, Marvel licensed the filming rights of the X-Men and related concepts, such as mutants, to 20th Century Fox. Fox created a film series based on the franchise. Years later, Marvel started its own film franchise, the Marvel Cinematic Universe, focused on the characters that they had not licensed to other studios, such as the Avengers. The main core of this franchise was the Avengers, both in standalone films and the successful The Avengers film. Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were disputed by both studios. Fox would claim the rights over them because they were both mutants and children of Magneto, the villain of most of their films, and Marvel would claim those rights because the editorial history of the characters in comic books is more associated with the Avengers rather than the X-Men. The studios made an agreement so that both of them would use the characters. It was made on the condition that the plots do not make reference to the other studio's properties: the Fox films cannot mention them as members of the Avengers, and the Marvel films cannot mention them as mutants or children of Magneto. Despite this deal, films in the Fox X-Men series did not feature Scarlet Witch.
In May 2013, it was reported that Joss Whedon considered Saoirse Ronan to be his "prototype" actress for the part, but by August of that year, Elizabeth Olsen had been cast for the role. Olsen has since played Wanda Maximoff in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Olsen noted that when Joss Whedon offered her the role, he said "[wh]en you go home and Google her, just know you will never ever have to wear what she wears in the comics", and, in keeping with this, Maximoff's comic book costume was ignored in favor of more casual clothing. She first appeared, as well as Quicksilver, in a mid-credits scene of the 2014 film Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a prisoner of Baron Strucker (Thomas Kretschmann). Scarlet Witch became a supporting character in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron, where the siblings initially conspire with Ultron (James Spader) but later defect to the Avengers. Quicksilver dies in the ensuing conflict while Wanda goes on to become a member of Captain America's Avengers. She appears in the 2016 film Captain America: Civil War. Both Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson signed multi-picture deals. Olsen reprises the role in the 2018 film Avengers: Infinity War and its 2019 sequel Avengers: Endgame and will appear in the upcoming film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In the films, her powers are telekinetic and telepathic abilities, which she gained by volunteering as a test subject in Hydra experiments to create supersoldiers, by exposing her to the Mind Stone. Therefore, both she and her brother are described in the films as "enhanced humans," as opposed to the naturally-occurring Mutants they are in the comics.
In September 2018, it was reported that Marvel Studios was developing several limited series for Disney's streaming service, Disney+, to be centered on "second tier" characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe films who had not and were unlikely to star in their own films, such as Scarlet Witch, with Elizabeth Olsen expected to reprise her role. The title of this show was later announced in 2018 to be WandaVision, co-starring Paul Bettany as the Vision. It premiered in January 2021. As the show is premised on Maximoff and Vision appearing in a sitcom (apparently constructed by Maximoff to escape her grief over Vision's real-world death), her appearance throughout the series reflects the clothing styles of sitcom characters across different decades of the genre.
Wanda is first fully introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron as the twin sister of Pietro Maximoff who can engage in hypnosis and telekinesis. Olsen felt Wanda was "overly stimulated" rather than "mentally insane" because "she has such a vast amount of knowledge that she's unable to learn how to control it. No one taught her how to control it properly... she can connect to this world and parallel worlds at the same time, and parallel times." Describing her character's mind control powers, Olsen said that the character is able to do more than manipulating someone's mind, with Scarlet Witch able to "feel and see what they feel and see" by projecting visions that they have never seen. Olsen expanded upon this, saying, "What I love about her is that, in so many superhero films, emotions are kind of negated a bit, but for her everything that someone else could feel—like their weakest moments—she physically goes through that same experience with them, which is pretty cool." Olsen drew on her relationship with her older brother and her sisters to prepare for the role, as well as looking to the comics for inspiration. Olsen revealed that Whedon was inspired by dancers as a way to visually represent how the character moves. As such, Olsen mostly trained with dancer Jennifer White in lieu of traditional stunt training.
In Captain America: Civil War, Wanda allies with Steve Rogers against the Sokovia Accords. According to Olsen, the character is "coming into her own and starting to understand and have conflict with how she wants to use her abilities." As such, Wanda's costume was "relatively casual" and "more clothes-based than superhero-based" according to Makovsky, since the Russo brothers believed Wanda was not a full-fledged Avenger yet. When asked about the relationship between her character and the Vision compared to the comics, Olsen said, "You learn a little bit more about what connects [Scarlet and Vision] in this film. And I think there's some really sweet moments between Paul and I, and it's more about how they relate to one another and their similarities just based on their superpowers."
In Avengers: Infinity War, Olsen explains that Wanda and Vision have maintained a romance while Wanda remains in hiding and are "trying to within that time find points of meeting in different places in order to try and forward our relationship." Paul Bettany described it as the most emotional arc for the characters. In early drafts of Infinity War and Endgame, the screenwriters had Wanda survive the snap and participate more substantially in the events of Endgame, while still mourning Vision, but this angle was ultimately dropped because "she'd gotten so much mileage and story in the first movie that she didn't really have anything that equaled that in the second."
Fictional character biographyEdit
Wanda Maximoff grew up with her twin brother Pietro Maximoff and her parents in an apartment in the fictional country Sokovia in Eastern Europe during a war. As a child, she enjoyed watching sitcoms, which her father sold as boxed sets. After a missile blew up their apartment and killed their parents, Wanda and Pietro were stuck inside the damaged building for two days after a second Stark Industries missile flew in. However, the missile never went off as Wanda had unknowingly cast a probability hex, turning the missile into a failed one. When the twins were young adults, they volunteered as test subjects for Hydra. After being exposed to the Mind Stone, Wanda's powers were amplified and greater enhanced.
Captain America: The Winter SoldierEdit
In 2014, Wanda and Pietro are introduced as test subjects in a Hydra facility in Sokovia commanded by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. She and Pietro are the only survivors of Strucker's experiments using the scepter.
Avengers: Age of UltronEdit
In 2015, the Avengers—Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton—raid Strucker's facility and encounter the Maximoffs, with Wanda using her telepathic abilities to interfere with their attack. Stark and Banner subsequently use an artificial intelligence within the scepter's gem to complete Stark's "Ultron" global defense program, and the unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, recruits the Maximoffs, who hold Stark responsible for their parents' deaths by his company's weapons. The Avengers attack Ultron in Johannesburg, but Wanda subdues them with haunting visions, causing Banner to turn into the Hulk and rampage through the city. Ultron travels to Seoul and uses the scepter to enslave Dr. Helen Cho, using her synthetic-tissue technology, vibranium, and the scepter's gem to craft a new body. As Ultron uploads himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind discovering his plan for human extinction. The Maximoffs turn against Ultron and join the Avengers at the Avengers Tower. After Stark, Banner, and Thor cooperate to turn the captured synthetic body into the "Vision," the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine to lift a large part of the capital city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground to cause global extinction. Barton befriends Wanda and encourages her to join the Avengers in the fight against Ultron. Pietro is killed when he saves Barton from Ultron, and a vengeful Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron's primary body, which allows one of his drones to activate the machine. The other Avengers thwart Ultron's plan, and the Avengers establish a new team at the Avengers Compound led by Rogers and Romanoff, featuring James Rhodes, Sam Wilson, Vision, and Wanda.
Captain America: Civil WarEdit
In 2016, Rogers, Romanoff, Wilson, and Wanda stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up, attempting to kill Rogers, but Wanda telekinetically contains the explosion and throws it upward, accidentally damaging a nearby building and killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers, to her dismay. As a result, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs the Avengers that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the team. Wanda is restricted by Stark to remain at the Avengers Compound, where she is watched over by Vision who attempts to comfort her and the two begin to develop romantic feelings for each other. Rogers and Wilson go rogue to aid Bucky Barnes and send Barton to retrieve Wanda, who rejects Vision's attempts to stop her and goes with Barton. They pick up Scott Lang and meet Rogers's team at Leipzig/Halle Airport in Germany, but are intercepted by Stark's team where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. Wanda, Barton, Lang, and Wilson are captured and detained at the Raft, until Rogers breaks them out.
Avengers: Infinity WarEdit
In 2018, Wanda and Vision have begun a romantic relationship while living off the grid in Edinburgh, however, one night they are ambushed by Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive, members of the Children of Thanos sent to retrieve the Mind Stone. Rogers, Romanoff, and Wilson rescue them, and go to the Avengers Compound, meeting with Rhodes and Banner. Vision asks Wanda to destroy the Stone, but she refuses. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the Stone without destroying Vision. As Shuri works to extract the Mind Stone from Vision, Wanda is tasked to stay and watch over Vision until the Stone is out. After the Outriders invade and overwhelm the Avengers on the battlefield, Wanda leaves her post to help her teammates, while also killing Midnight. She witnesses the arrival of Thanos and is forced to destroy the Mind Stone and Vision, but Thanos uses the Time Stone to reverse her actions. He rips the repaired Mind Stone from Vision's forehead, effectively deactivating him. Then Thanos with the completed Infinity Gauntlet, snaps his fingers, and Wanda disintegrates.
In 2023, Wanda is restored to life and is brought to the destroyed Avengers Compound to join the final battle against an alternate Thanos. Wanda confronts him directly, nearly defeating him, destroying his sword, and forcing him to order his warship to bomb the area. She assists Carol Danvers as she tries to return the gauntlet. After the battle, Wanda attends Stark's funeral and reunites with Barton.
Two weeks after Avengers: Endgame, Wanda drives to S.W.O.R.D. Headquarters to retrieve Vision. After meeting with acting director Tyler Hayward, she is shown Vision being experimented on and realizes she can no longer sense him. She then drives to Westview, New Jersey, to view a vacant lot Vision purchased for the two "to grow old in." Overcome with grief, Wanda unleashes waves of chaos magic which transforms the town and constructs a hexagonal barrier around it. She then materializes a new Vision that lacks any prior memories and starts living in the sitcom-themed false reality, where they are newly-married and try to live their ideal suburban life. Wanda attempts to befriend her neighbors while occasionally needing to conceal her and Vision's powers.
Wanda soon becomes visibly pregnant. When she and Vision see a S.W.O.R.D agent dressed as a beekeeper emerging from a manhole on their street, Wanda resets the time. Later, as Wanda's pregnancy quickly progresses, Wanda is visited by her neighbor "Geraldine" (Monica Rambeau) and gives birth to twin boys Tommy and Billy. She mentions that she was also a twin, prompting "Geraldine" to remember about Pietro's death and after Wanda sees her pendant with a sword emblem on it, she casts her out of Westview. When Vision returns, he appears as a corpse, as last seen in Avengers: Infinity War.
As Wanda's children age rapidly, S.W.O.R.D. sends a drone from the 1980s into Westview and attempts to kill Wanda on the orders of Hayward. Enraged, Wanda walks out of Westview with the drone and warns Hayward to leave her alone. Monica Rambeau who sees Wanda as an ally, tells her she can help her, but Wanda says she has what she wants. Wanda leaves them, fortifies the hexagonal barrier, and re-enters Westview. Back in Westview, Wanda and Vision argue about what is really going on but are interrupted when "Pietro" (a man that resembles her brother) appears. During a Halloween festival, Wanda reveals to "Pietro" that she doesn't know what happened to her, except that she felt alone and empty, which seemingly caused her to create the false reality. After she learns Vision breached the hexagonal barrier, she expands it, engulfing Darcy Lewis, most of S.W.O.R.D., the Westview sign, and a used cars dealership.
Due to expanding the false reality, Wanda starts losing control of it and is surprised to see Monica again in Westview, who is there to warn her about Hayward. Before they can talk further, Wanda's neighbor, "Agnes," arrives and takes her to her house, only to lure Wanda into a dark demonic lair where she finds out that Agnes is really an evil sorceress named Agatha Harkness. Agatha then puts her under a trance, leading her through her memories. Wanda is forced to relive her memories of trauma and what she had lost throughout her life from her parents' death, her brother's death, Vision, and her new home at the Avengers Compound. She also remembers the creation of the Hex via a flashback. Wanda then leaves Agatha's house and runs outside to the street to find Agatha holding Tommy and Billy captive. Agatha tells her that she is a powerful mythical being capable of spontaneous creation who can use chaos magic, calling her the Scarlet Witch.
Powers and abilitiesEdit
In her first full-length introduction in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Maximoff's powers are mostly telekinetic and semi-telepathic. Throughout the movie she is shown moving objects with her mind and engaging in hypnosis, inducing nightmarish-like images into the heads of multiple Avengers. She also displays moments of energy projection, including when she took out an army of Ultrons with a wave of energy and created energy shields to protect herself and Sokovian citizens from the crossfire.
In Captain America: Civil War, Wanda's powers have advanced and her telekinesis is strong enough to let her hold up the debris of a falling building as well as allow her to engage in hovering. Her energy manipulation now allows her to, in a fight with Vision, forcibly manipulate his density.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Wanda is now capable of throwing energy bolts. Vision reveals that due to Wanda's powers being linked to the mind stone, she is able to use her powers to destroy it, which she later does. She also is shown to be able to telepathically communicate with the stone when she tries to figure out why Vision is in pain. In Wakanda, she was able to destroy large alien vehicles with her powers.
In her brief appearance in Avengers: Endgame, Wanda is able to lift large pieces of rubble from the destroyed Avengers Compound and hurl it at Thanos, as well as breaking his sword, which has already been shown to be stronger than vibranium. She is able to levitate Thanos into the air and strip of portions of his armor, until he disrupts her efforts by ordering a blitz.
The live-action series WandaVision explores her ability to warp reality like her comic counterpart. Wanda sets up a reinforced magical field (known as “The Maximoff Anomaly” or “The Hex”) over the town of Westview, New Jersey, rewriting everything and everyone inside to be part of her own fictional reality that presents itself as a television sitcom. The rewrite occurs on a molecular level, meaning her powers allow her to manipulate molecules. Darcy Lewis informs Monica Rambeau that her DNA is being molecularly rewritten after she passed through the field, and Rambeau develops light-related abilities after entering the reality a third time.
The series later reveals that Wanda was born as a witch and would unknowingly engage in basic hex magic as a kid. During a trip through her memories with Agatha, we learn that after Wanda's parents were killed by a missile in their apartment, a second one from Stark Industries came in. Wanda used a simple probability hex to turn the missile into a dud, saving her and her brother, Pietro. However, the two were unaware this was because of Wanda. After HYDRA testing with the Mind Stone, her powers were enhanced. Agatha tells Wanda that Maximoff is the only person who is able to engage in chaos magic, making her the mythical Scarlet Witch.
Differences from the comicsEdit
Maximoff in the MCU "possesses a drastically different powerset to her comic book counterpart," having been described less as a wielder of actual magic and more as "a Jean Grey analogue, gifted with both telepathic and telekinetic powers," with her abilities in the MCU being derived at least in part from experiments in which she was exposed to the Mind Stone. As of 2019[update], Magneto and other characters from the X-Men franchise have not been introduced into the MCU because Marvel Studios didn't own the rights for the X-Men until early 2019, and therefore no mention has been made of Maximoff's traditional depiction as the daughter of Magneto.
In addition, the Maximoff twins have been depicted as Romani characters in Marvel Comics since 1979. They were ethnically ambiguous for the first 15 years of their publication history, after which they were shown to have been adopted and raised by a Romani couple. It was later revealed that their biological father was Magneto and their mother was Magda Eisenhardt, a Romani woman he met in a concentration camp during World War II.
In a later ret-con, Wanda and Pietro discover that Magneto was not their father after all, and they are not mutants. Their mother was actually Natalya Maximoff, the biological sister of the twins' adoptive father. She passed on the title "The Scarlet Witch" to her daughter, and the biological father is assumed to also be from the Romani community. This makes the twins fully Romani by blood.
Following the release of Avengers: Endgame, Rachel Leishman of the feminist "geek site" The Mary Sue wrote that Maximoff "isn't the most fleshed out of characters because she is often tied down to a male character and very rarely does anything but kill people accidentally," but that Avengers: Infinity War provided "the Wanda Maximoff who understands her placement among the Avengers and her abilities," and by Avengers: Endgame, Maximoff is "taking on her position as one of the new leaders of the Avengers." A review of the subsequent television miniseries, WandaVision states that "Olsen and Bettany's characters were often treated like benchwarmers on an all-star team in the Avengers movies. Here, they really shine".
|2015||Avengers: Age of Ultron||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Breakout Star||Nominated|||
|2016||Captain America: Civil War||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Movie: Chemistry (with cast)||Nominated|||
|2018||Avengers: Infinity War||MTV Movie & TV Awards||Best Fight (with cast)||Nominated|||
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice Action Movie Actress||Nominated|||
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