Twins in Media: Wanda and Pietro Maximoff

Screenshot from ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ starring Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Welcome back to our weekly posts covering twins in media! This week, we decided to go with some of the current most popular portrayals of twins in movies. Wanda and Pietro are definitely that. I will say that they are slightly different in the movie than they are in the comic books, but I haven’t read much of the comics so my information there is pretty limited. But I will say that these two had a huge impact on me. The idea of twins as superheroes has always been popular. We’ve already talked a little bit about twin telepathy in other posts, but the idea of this supernatural connection between twins spurred them into becoming regular additions to comic books and other superhero stories. What surprised me about these two was not that they were there in the first place, but that they are twin superheroes who aren’t like how twin superheroes are generally portrayed. Let’s get into it! And for the few people who haven’t seen this movie, this has major SPOILERS.

The Bad:

  • One twin must die. This is one of the most common twin tropes and I will never not hate it. It is definitely safe to say that this is one of my least favorite twin tropes. Even if what people predict comes true and Pietro suddenly comes back to life in ‘WandaVision’, that will not erase that this was the trope they went with in this movie. Often writers will feel that both twins surviving a war-like situation is “too obvious” or even claim that it’s unrealistic even though a pair of siblings that aren’t twins generally have more of a chance of both surviving a piece of fiction. Even worse, some writers will feel that because they are twins, one is somehow expendable. This happens way too much. The idea that there’s two of us so one is expendable is an idea that basically means you don’t care about our individuality. You don’t see us as two different people. We are somehow each a half of a whole to you. The other reason this is used is to further the story of one of the twins by giving them the easiest trauma you can find. Taking the other twin away. This is just lazy writing in general. There are so many other things you can do, there are even other people in each singular twin’s life that you can look into for that. Why do they always choose the twin? The fact that Pietro has never been talked about in a movie since is proof that this was lazy writing to push Wanda forward. This trope is still used so much and is still widely accepted, which makes me disappointed at best. I’m honestly also just sick of all the death jokes I get as the older twin, because I get a lot of those considering that the older twin is generally the one that dies.
  • Over familiar. This happens a lot, especially with twins that have different genders. Why are they always standing so close together and grabbing each other’s faces? Do you generally do that a lot with your siblings? There are two reasons as to why I think this happens. Firstly, the writers want to show that their relationship is somehow deeper and stronger than regular siblings. I hate to break it to you, but that isn’t necessarily true. We are just like any other siblings that are somewhat close in age. Most of the time we get along, but sometimes we fight and we aren’t always on the same wavelength. We have the same kind of bond that any close siblings no matter their age would have. The second reason is the normalization of twincest in most media when you have a pair of twins with different genders. This can show itself in situations like a pair of twins kissing drunkenly in a comedy movie (it happens more than you think), or in situations like this where they show a relationship that almost looks to the watcher like the characters are bridging on a romantic relationship. All of this needs to go. Until you portray all twins like regular siblings, your portrayal of twins is going to be wrong.
  • Twin testing. This is one of the biggest examples of twin testing and I can’t say I know exactly how to feel about it. For those who don’t know, twin testing was a major part of World War II. Germans would pull aside twins in concentration camps or in transportation to concentration camps and do horrifying experiments on them. Many did not survive the testing. Things like this are why my sister and I make the posts we do. The stigma and fascination with twins has often left us treated as less than human or as some sort of experiment or circus act. I put this in bad, because this was put into the story for plot and definitely not necessarily handled with care.
  • Same-sex fraternal erasure. This doesn’t necessarily have to do with them, but does include all fraternal twins in media. Let me ask you a question; how many twins have you seen in media that are fraternal and the same gender? If your answer was none, I am not the least bit surprised. I have even met people who thought that all fraternal twins had to be different genders because of this. All identical twins will be the same gender, but not all fraternal twins will be different genders. My sister and I are fraternal, though we look alike so we are most often confused for being identical, and are living proof that that’s not true.
  • Twins of different genders. This is similar to the one above and is more of a general thing about fraternal twins. Twins of different genders are more likely to be portrayed as having different personalities. It’s great that there are twins that are getting that, but this needs to be extended to all portrayals of twins.

The Good:

  • Different personalities. Of course I have to say this. Wanda and Pietro are way different without having to be opposites or exactly the same. They’re just different. Wanda is more responsible, pays attention to detail, and is more introverted. Pietro is consistently sarcastic and sassy. He’s not afraid to go up to a girl he likes and give her a dress (That was such a cute deleted scene!) or tell people to move their asses. They are characters that compliment each other without being extreme caricatures. They are equally lovable and have very different relationships with each of the other Avengers. Take Clint Barton for example. Wanda is like Hawkeye’s daughter in a way and is someone he looks after. Pietro is like his annoying little brother. Different personalities and different relationships with people make these two stand out to me.
  • No twin telepathy. They had a pair of superhero twins. They could have given them unnecessary super powers to try and further connect them for the audience. They didn’t and I respect that. Like their personalities, their super powers aren’t exactly the same or exact opposites of each other. Pietro has super speed and Wanda can control energy and the world around her with her mind. Different but not extreme, once again. The fact that their super powers do not themselves suggest that the characters are twins is amazing.
  • No birth separation. Often times in media when a pair of twins is separated, it means they are more likely to have different personalities. These two have separate personalities despite them having lived in the same household for their entire lives up until the point the movie starts. They have a close relationship while still being different people. Most twins aren’t separated at birth, so this is important.
  • Realistic sibling relationship. Other than the overly touchy parts of this relationship, this is actually an extremely good representation of a sibling relationship. They fight sometimes, they tease each other so much, and they have a genuinely caring relationship. Wanda at one point gives Pietro orders and he teases her about him being older than her. This is one of the most realistic sibling interactions I’ve seen in anything ever. It’s not portrayed like him being older means anything, it’s just used as a teasing point between the siblings. They worry about each other and argue because of their worry sometimes. They rely on each other when they’re confronting someone else. Pietro throws Wanda a jacket he knows she’ll like. Also, not all of the closeness is bad, just the fact that there’s too much of it. If one of them is scared or worried about the other, they’ll stand closer to them. Things like that are realistic because you would do that with any person you’re close with. I would say that most of this relationship feels realistic.

So, are Wanda and Pietro good representations of twins in media or not?

I want to say yes, but that’s difficult. In this movie, the acting in the portrayal of the two are great. Some of their sibling relationship moments in this film are the most realistic and relatable that I’ve seen. The issue is that their characters are built up on so many bad tropes and they even added a major one on for this movie. Pietro doesn’t die in the comics. They are an excellent example of twins that could have been amazing, but the writers got way too caught up in tropes to actually let them thrive. So once again, I have to answer with yes and no. They could have been some of the best I’ve ever seen in media but they, like media in general when it comes to twin representation, have a long way to go.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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