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Who is the Scarlet Witch?

Updated on June 2, 2016
cperuzzi profile image

Chris Peruzzi is a comic book superhero historian who is passionate about how today's comic book heroes are the new mythology for America.

Who knew how powerful she’d become

If want to start a geek war on the Internet, ask the “Who’s more powerful” question. Then you drop a few obvious names and watch geeks have their little nerdgasms in trying to out geek each other with their comic book knowledge.

Who would have thought that a true contender for that title would be Wanda Maximoff – aka “The Scarlet Witch”? I certainly wouldn’t have, given that throughout the sixties, seventies, and for most of the eighties Wanda was one of the throw away characters that was the token female for the Avengers. Even worse, before she’d even joined the Avengers she was the little sister of Quicksilver and for the most part was treated like an overgrown toddler who had somehow reached sexual maturity at age ten and was bait for any mutant, X-man, or wandering philanderer who might have gotten past her brother or Magneto.

Her character hadn’t really developed until Steve Englehart had thought she’d be perfect to be one of the choices of “Celestial Madonna” and the love interest of the Vision. After all, if you’re going to write a Marvel story about the Tin Man having a heart, you need to have someone for him to love.

Sister and Brother, The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver
Sister and Brother, The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver

So, other than having the power to start love triangles, fire hex bolts of probability altering force, and a little bit of real actual magic, The Scarlet Witch was never really intended to be one of the heavy hitters in the Marvel Universe.

Think about it. We have other characters in the MU who actually have this power on a lower scale. When we look at The Black Cat (Felicia Hardy), Shamrock (Molly Fitzgerald), and Longshot, the power to affect probability fields has not been really unique. How does this minor android loving (and sentient ionic ray personality loving) mutant who has probability altering powers (with a reliability factor of only 80%) become a badass?

Motherhood.

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It turns out that when you have a mutant power to affect probabilities mixed with an incredible dose of practiced chaos magic even synthezoid DNA can not only fertilize your egg but give you twins as well. And when you discover that those twins are sort of, kind of, a well-constructed illusion that only exist when you’re thinking about them. The post-partum depression can give your powers a boost that only Immortus can resolve and that Agatha Harkness has to resolve with a bit of a mind wipe.

But I digress.

The Scarlet Witch, who started out as a relatively weak character has become the subject of debate due to her goddess level powers to rewrite reality.

Husband and Wife, The Vision and Scarlet Witch
Husband and Wife, The Vision and Scarlet Witch

Who is Wanda Maximoff?

Wanda Maximoff is the twin sister of Pietro Maximoff, aka Quicksilver. The two of them are children of the mutant villain (sometimes, most of the time, when he feels like it) Magneto. She was born in the High Evolutionary’s lair, Wundagore, and had her powers tweaked by the demon Chthon in his plans on making her a human host.

As Pietro and Wanda were raised by Romani gypsies, they have very old world ways of thinking. Pietro is constantly looking out for his twin sister and believes that it is them against the world. Taking the name The Scarlet Witch, which she did because of her ability to make random things burst into flames and other things explode, she joined with Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants for both of their protection.

Soon after discovering that Magneto was incredibly evil, they ran away to join the Avengers where she has been a regular member since. After the renegade android, Ultron, attacked the Avengers by sending a newly made synthezoid (The Vision), she’d fallen in love with the artificial man and they'd eventually marry and have children (through her probability altering powers and magic). Not that that was too weird as the Vision’s personality was based on the brain patterns and engrams of Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man.

Doing hexes
Doing hexes

The Men in Wanda's Life

Character
Relation
Magneto
Father
Quicksilver
Pietro
The Vision
Husband
Wonder Man
On again off again lover

When Wonder Man had been “resurrected” (well, “resurrected” may not be the right word as the ionic energy that gives him his super powers makes him immortal), she had begun a relationship with him (as the Vision was destroyed and rebuilt without the brain pattern of Wonder Man).

Yeah, I know. It’s pretty screwed up.

Wanda, herself, has an interesting personality that has evolved over the years. She’s gone from being an awkward sister to being not only her own woman but, at one time, chairwoman of the Avengers. She’s proved to be more than capable in the field and an ample student of the mystic arts. She’s be tutored by one of the best, Agatha Harkness – the MU’s goto woman when you need a real witch.

After she “loses” her children, she goes a bit insane. How insane? Well, she “disassembles” the Avengers. As her powers had been growing since the inception of her twins, her powers began to warp reality and made her crazy. Because much of what she’d done had affected Tony Stark personally, biologically, and professionally, he’d lost a fortune and could no longer finance the Avengers as a superteam – effectively ending the Avengers (until Captain America used his “Champion’s Authority” to assemble any team he sees fit for any reason – and that reason was a jail break from the maximum security Raft).

But once again, I digress.

Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch
Wonder Man and Scarlet Witch

Wanda was put into a trance by Doctor Strange until Magneto comes to take her away (repentant that he was a crappy father and wanting to make amends). Unfortunately, even while Wanda is under an Eye of Agamotto trance, he powers begin to grow to the point where both Magneto and Professor Xavier cannot control her. Shortly before a combined effort of the X-men and the Avengers can put a “more permanent solution to this problem” (i.e. – decide to kill her), Wanda’s subconscious REWRITES REALITY where all homo superior (mutants) rule humans. By the time the “House of M” story line concludes, it is Wanda that says “No more mutants” and the world changes back but instead of being millions of mutants around the world, there are only a few hundred.

That’s power.

That’s really, really, REALLY, dangerous power. That’s Thanos with an Infinity Gauntlet power. And this all came about because she couldn’t find her kids and then rewrote the universe so they could exist. Oh and she’s essentially killed the Phoenix force because she could.

Fortunately for all of us, her power levels have gone back down to “normal” levels. She can cast hexes and work a bit of magic… but that’s basically it.

Final Words

I wanted to spend a lot of time breaking down the Scarlet Witch’s powers and life. However, it is both simple and complex. For all intents and purposes, she is a simple being. Her powers make weird things happen. Bullets suddenly move in weird directions, she can make things explode, and when she really concentrates she can do some amount to mystical work.

On the mystical front, she’s no Stephen Strange, but she doesn’t suck either. She knows how to manipulate energy to not only help her with controlling her own mutant powers but also to do some of the magic that Marvel magicians do. This is usually limited to teleportation, energy projection, and the tapping of extra-dimensional energy by invoking entities or objects of power existing in dimensions tangential to Earth's through the recitation of spells.

Her character has gone through a lot and has become stronger and more independent. She is her own woman and in many cases when a character goes through omnipotence and insanity and back again relatively unscathed, it is the mark of a real hero.

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© 2015 Christopher Peruzzi

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    • SM OBrien profile image

      Sharon OBrien 2 years ago

      It has always disturbed me that too many female superheroes had to be defined by men whether lover or family members. It is equally disturbing that it is assumed that all women want to be mothers or need to be in order to be whole. Both of these misconceptions are of course ridiculous. I am happy to see these insulting stereotypes fading away.