A Look at Disney: Villains Profile: The Scarlet Witch
In many ways, I feel I’ve saved the most tragic example of a Fallen Hero for last. Wanda Maximoff is my favorite character from the MCU. And I do understand that some of her fans can be a bit obsessive but I find her to be an interesting study of how we let grief consume us and how we act in those times. As I’ll discuss below, she is a broken woman, and as someone who has felt broken find her relatable. It’s similar to why I like shows such as Next to Normal as it again deals with a character that feels broken and as though the world is against you.
There was a time when I felt constantly broken and like the world was out to get me and nothing was ever good enough. That’s Wanda to a tee. I’ll admit I’ve never read any of Wanda’s appearances in the comics, this is all I knew.
And to be honest, it wasn’t until WandaVision that I came to love Wanda as much as I do now. This might be one of the heavier entries in this series.
I didn’t know it when Elizabeth Olsen debuted in the MCU but I had already seen her in some stuff growing up. As a kid, I was a fan of her sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley and a young Lizzie Olsen had been featured in some of their music videos.
Yeah, I may have to go into more detail about this in a future blog but I was obsessed with The Olsen Twins as a kid and I’m pretty sure, they were my introduction to mysteries.
I had the VHS tapes, the books, and an admittedly not-very-good Gameboy Color game, but I loved this stuff. Elizabeth Olsen had gone on record saying that she doesn’t remember filming anything for her sisters, which is fair as she was super little here much like the twins when they started on Full House. Something else I want to touch upon is why I do think Elizabeth Olsen is a better actor than her sisters, I’m not exactly sure that it’s fair to compare her to her sisters as she is a full-grown adult taking on heavier roles whereas her sisters were mostly given sitcom and tween movie roles. Two very different styles of acting are required for what they are doing plus Mary-Kate and Ashley have stepped away from the limelight and are good for them whereas, with Elizabeth, you can see that she truly enjoys acting and it comes through in how she plays Wanda. She makes you ache for Wanda whenever she is onscreen.
Admittedly, I didn’t watch every single appearance of Wanda in the MCU for this blog, I only focused on WandaVision and Multiverse of Madness but I still think it’s important to look at her true first appearance. Wanda and Pietro are first in a post-credit scene of The Winter Solider and we truly get to know them in Age of Ultron when Wanda and Pietro started as enemies to the Avengers.
Why this is important from a historical perspective for her character and does also show us the broken young woman she is, when we first see her in WandaVision and MOM we see both her trying to escape the reality of what has happened in a sitcom and seeing what she can’t have with the visions of the Wanda of the other universe playing with her sons.
Even here though, there are moments of reality. In the first episode of WandaVision, we see this at the dinner when Vision’s boss starts choking and in MOM when Wanda wakes up and is all alone.
WandaVision from the first episode lets you know that something is up and that while Wanda is in control, she shouldn’t be and that this is a dangerous thing she’s doing. Her waking up from the dream in Multiverse of Madness plays into the heartbreak I feel for the character as she is truly alone having lost everyone she’s ever loved and she doesn’t know how to cope with being alone. Take how she tells Doctor Strange that the hex was easy but the lying was not.
And I get it as Wanda wants to lie to herself and say that she’ll be fine and she can cope with everything she’s lost but everything she has been through would put a toll on any person. This girl doesn’t need powers, she needs therapy.
Why She Fell
I’m honestly shocked that she didn’t fall sooner considering everything she’s lost. The death of Pietro, losing Vis multiple times, and then finally losing Billy and Tommy at the end of WandaVision and how the Darkhold consumed her.
Let’s also d back to this interaction between her and Thanos.
To Thanos, she is an unimportant figure in the grand scheme of his plans. This also contributes to Wanda letting grief consume her. In many regards, Wanda’s arc reminds me of the Joker in The Killing Joke.
The difference is Wanda has had a lifetime of bad days. The episode Previously On showed us how many days she’s had since she was a little girl in Sokovia.
When we have these bad days, there are different ways one can react to them. We can let them consume us and let them drag us down or we can learn from them and say yes, that hurts but it is part of who I am. Consider what Vision tells her in this same episode.
Again, this says to me that the love you have for those you have lost does not die with them. It’ll always hurt when we lose the ones we love. Though I like this quote and I think it sums up my feelings.
This makes me wish Wanda had the support she needed after losing everything but at the same time, she’d have to be open to getting the help she needs and by the time of MOM, she was too far gone.
She’s broken. I somewhat covered this in the previous category but after everything she’s lost, she feels hopeless and as we see in WandaVision she retreats into her nostalgic memories of sitcoms to cope with everything she’s lost.
At the same time though, when she becomes angry whether towards Hayward or Agatha, we see her drop the act, and her accent returns. Agatha even calls her out on how her accent and comes and goes.
This speaks to how that she can’t keep the facade up forever no matter how hard she tries. This also leads to perhaps one of her biggest moments encapsulating where she’s at when Doctor Strange comes to find her.
This is an interesting case because as Stephen pointed out, they were at war against Thanos and that was the only option left. Having said that, there is a double standard where society judges women real or fictional more harshly for their misdeeds. This is not an excuse for Wanda’s actions as she does cross many lines but after men screw up multiple times, they are given many chances to redeem. So yes, she let anger consume her and this is seen throughout the Doctor Strange sequel as the more it goes on, the more monstrous she looks.
At this point, anger has become her only motivation and she will not let anyone stand in her way. If we rewind a bit, we even see how her anger has consumed her when she tells Strange that if they don’t hand over America, they’ll be dealing with The Scarlet Witch. And when she does attack, Stephen tries to talk her down but it’s to no avail as she says this.
Wanda is the second fallen hero I’ve looked at where someone trying to reach out to them says the wrong thing and it triggers them.
The difference between Cassandra and Wanda in these moments is that Cass was considering listening to Rapunzel until she said Cassandra’s trigger word whereas at the point Wanda attacks, she’s too far gone and isn’t willing to listen to reason.
She says that she wants her sons back but I feel as though, that’s a cover for what she truly wants.
She wants to be loved. Consider what I’ve mentioned, Wanda is a woman who has lost everything so many times, from her parents to her brother, to the love of her life and then she lost her sons. Strange makes the mistake of telling her that her children weren’t real but she reveals that they exist in every universe as she hears them calling out every night. This speaks to the harsh reality that she has to come to understand that they are loved in every universe. After she scares them and this is something I’ve seen a bit of a mixed reception to.
On the one hand, it goes back to what I said about cherishing the time you have with those that you loved and also knowing that the love you had for the ones you lost is real but it’s clear hearing the voices of her sons from other universes drove her crazy. The love she had for Billy and Tommy never went away but Wanda using the Darkhold twisted that love into something sinister and it wasn’t until Wanda saw how she was scaring Billy and Tommy that and realized she had crossed so many lines to get what she wanted. You can hear the pain in her voice when Billy and Tommy are frightened by her. It isn’t until the other Wanda tells them
Know that they’ll be loved
It takes this moment for Wanda to snap out of who and what she has become. This isn’t so much a case of you can’t always get what you want but rather cherish what you had.
Most Evil Deed
There’s a laundry list of options from how she enslaved Westview and the numerous deaths. And as much as I love Wanda, I do have an issue with how the finale lets her off the hook and this line has rubbed me the wrong way.
On the one hand yes, Wanda has gone through so much pain, and Monica lost her mother during the Blip and she can relate to everything Wanda is going through Wanda still hurt the citizens of Westview to find a way to cope with everything she’s lost. More thematically, however, I want to go with something I’m not sure that many would even think of in terms of the most heinous deeds that Wanda committed.
No, I’m not listing this because I was hyped for the cameo and sad to see him die. I could have cared less about the cameos but rather because of the exchange where Reed reveals he has children. Wanda kills him in cold blood robbing his children of growing up with their father while she is acting in a way so horrible as a way to justify being with her sons again. Yes, there are many other deaths Wanda caused in Multiverse of Madness but Wanda killing Mr. Fantastic is the one that stuck with me the most as I believe it to be the most hypocritical death in the whole movie. Wanda is doing everything in her power to be with her sons again including killing another parent.
Wanda’s fate is a bit unclear as she seemingly sacrifices herself after seeing how she scared Billy and Tommy destroying the Darkhold in the process.
At the time, it seemed as though this was the end of Wanda’s arc in the MCU and it should have been. Wanda giving her life after everything she did is a beautiful capstone to show how far she’s come since her debut back in Age of Ultron but now, it seems as though this is being walked back considering rumors of a Scarlet Witch movie have been floating around. I love Wanda, she’s my favorite character from the MCU but I don’t think there is anything left to do with her character. And also I’m just tired of her suffering, let her rest.
Does The Scarlet Witch Work as a Villian?
Yes, she’s a tragic figure and her becoming a villain while controversial to some makes sense to me as Wanda had been on a downward spiral for quite some time and her actions in Multiverse of Madness were a culmination of the tragedy she had endured for so long. You can only keep that anger and hurt bottled up for so long before lashing out. And that is understandable as if you keep those emotions wrapped up, they’ll come out in the worst way possible. This is another reason I relate to Wanda as I know what it feels like to keep those emotions bottled up before letting them explode in the worst way possible. That’s why I relate to Wanda so much as she is one of many characters I love for being able to help me understand the pain and heartache I’ve felt for quite some time.
4 thoughts on “A Look at Disney: Villains Profile: The Scarlet Witch”
It made sense to me that Wanda would end up snapping and becoming a villain in Multiverse of Madness. She ended up being put through a lot of horrible stuff and was pretty surprising that she didn’t turn sooner.
Yeah, I have to agree after everything she’s been through, I’m shocked it took this long to lose herself.
I know I’ve said before that I didn’t like turning Wanda into a villainous figure, but I never really considered the Joker analogy until now. With all the trauma she had to endure, it really isn’t surprising that she snapped, even though I wish she hadn’t. And while I agree with your take that there’s nothing more to do with the character, I wouldn’t be averse to having her return for a redemption arc. Though given the atrocities she committed in Multiverse of Madness, that might be impossible.
Yeah, the Joker analogy just came to me. He spews the idea of how all it takes is one bad day for someone to snap. Wanda has lived a lifetime of bad days despite trying her dammdest. It’s not hard how to see how she views the world as hating and punishing her and that’s even before her misdeeds. It does seem like Wanda returning is more and more likely. I agree, a redemption arc could be nice but even as much as I love her, that’s gonna be an uphill battle not just for her but for the audience as she’s rather divisive after what she did in Multiverse of Madness.