Twins in Media: Wanda and Pietro Maximoff vs Luke and Leia

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

Hey! Hallie here!

Welcome back to the Twins in Media showdown! This week we’re pitting the main twin characters from the Marvel and Star Wars franchises against each other. As usual, this isn’t a competition based on their general writing or characterization. Instead, I’m going to be judging these two pairs based off of which one is a better representation of twins. I’m also going to stick pretty strictly to the movies in order to compare these two. I’ve been a huge fan of the MCU and the Star Wars movies for a very long time, so this one might hurt a bit. I like both of these twin adaptations for completely different reasons, but neither of them are perfect. This is going to be a close one, so let’s see which major franchise did it better.

Tropes:

Wanda and Pietro: We have a few big ones here. The most glaring one is the ‘One Twin Must Die’ trope. It’s really common for any series with twins to decide to kill one off. For some reason, most writers feel as though it matters more to create tragedy for one character to help their character growth, rather than developing both characters. After all, both characters are similar enough that losing one isn’t much of an issue, right? While someone could argue that Pietro needed to die because of Disney and Fox’s precarious dual ownership of both characters (Before Disney consumed Fox, that is), that doesn’t excuse the writers from deciding on a harmful trope to get rid of Pietro. So many siblings get to live through an entire series together, and I can’t say my sister haven’t been affected by most media telling us that one of us is expendable or one of us is going to die a premature death. There’s also some ‘Twin Testing’ in this movie, which is definitely an odd trope. Twin testing is based on a previous belief that the connection between twins justified horrific testing on them. The belief that twins have a supernatural connection that should be feared or exploited hasn’t completely gone away, either. It’s a difficult subject, and one that could have been completely avoided if they had just said they were born with their powers and moved on. Avoiding the mutant storyline was a problem, but it could have led to many other options better than this trope.

Luke and Leia: There’s a few tropes here and they’re pretty well known. The most glaring one is ‘Separated at Birth’. This is seen so often in so many shows and movies, but Luke and Leia might be the most popular version of this trope. Many writers feel that the best way to create major differences between their twin characters is to make sure they were raised in two separate environments. The issue with this approach is that twins are different regardless of whether or not they grew up together. It’s a very drastic way of attempting to create differences, and it’s used so often that we have more movies about twins that were separated than about twins that grew up together. These two also fall under the ‘Twin Telepathy’ trope. Luke and Leia can feel each other though the Force. This trope is a bit complicated in Star Wars because the Force is used for many things, and even those who aren’t related can theoretically feel each other through it. The issue with Luke and Leia is that their Force connection was given a bigger focus once they were confirmed to be twins. This trope is majorly harmful because it gives voice to the idea that twins share a brain, which is a ridiculous way to try to make twins seem like they’re the same person. However, because Leia’s first big moment of sensing Luke was done before they were confirmed to be twins, it’s more of a loose trope than a pointedly harmful one.

Winner: Luke and Leia take this one. While I listed some major tropes for the both of them, Luke and Leia’s tropes are far less harmful than Wanda and Pietro’s. In fact, Luke and Leia don’t really run into many tropes until the very end of the series, which to me makes it seem like they weren’t meant to be twins in the first place. But I’ll get to that in a bit.

Differences and Similarities:

Wanda and Pietro: Honestly, I find that writers don’t have as much of an issue writing separate personalities for twins of two different genders than they do for twins of the same gender. Most media that shows fraternal twins uses opposite-sex twins, which allows each character to be more easily identifiable. It’s definitely disappointing that same-sex twins tend to get worse treatment in media, but that doesn’t really have any bearing on Wanda and Pietro. Ultimately, they’re very different people. Which is a good thing. Wanda considers every action she makes carefully and is slower to embrace a new situation. Pietro is often reckless and easily adapts to every situation. While this makes them seem like opposites, they don’t really act like opposites when they’re together. They have many of the same goals despite their differences and they share some similar opinions, but it’s pretty obvious they’re different people. They strike a nice balance I can’t really complain about.

Luke and Leia: Once again, these two are fraternal twins that the writers felt didn’t need to be made drastically different or similar. Leia is definitely the smarter and more diplomatic of the two, but she’s also the most hotheaded between them. Meanwhile, Luke is a bit more rash, but he’s more caring and approachable. They’re different, but not opposites. They hold many of the same goals and opinions, but not for all the same reasons. They don’t even get many one-on-one scenes to highlight these similarities or differences. They’re just there.

Winner: Tie. Both movies do a pretty good job at making sure their twin characters are two very different people. None of them really attempt to make them too similar or different. I think this is mostly because both are fraternal twins, but all I can really criticize there is that same-sex twins aren’t written like this enough. That really doesn’t have to do with the characterization of these twins, though.

Relationship:

Wanda and Pietro: Wanda and Pietro have a bit of a ‘Twincest’ problem. It isn’t explicit, but some media feels as though they need something extra on-screen to make sure audiences understand that the twin bond is closer than a regular sibling bond. ‘Avengers’ uses constant breach of personal space and a lot of face touching to get this point across. Twins don’t actually have a relationship any closer than any siblings who have a close relationship. Twins are normal siblings, so don’t expect that twins would do something you find awkward to do with your sibling. Otherwise, Wanda and Pietro are pretty good. They are very clearly siblings who get annoyed with each other just as much as they enjoy each other’s company. They stick together a lot, but so do many close twins. They have a pretty wholesome relationship that would be nice if there weren’t some awkward undertones.

Luke and Leia: Luke and Leia also have a ‘Twincest’ problem. I’d argue this one is worse, though, because they actually kiss. Eww. No. They also have an issue where they don’t act like siblings. At all. In my opinion, I don’t believe these two were originally meant to be twins. While this is a good thing when it comes to avoiding twin tropes, it’s really bad when it comes to showing a realistic sibling relationship. They don’t interact a whole lot one-on-one, and though they do care for each other, there’s nothing about their relationship that implies that the realization that they’re siblings has made them any closer. They’re good friends. That’s about it.

Winner: Wanda and Pietro. There are definitely issues there, but at least they act like twins. Though, I think that Luke and Leia’s familial ties being a last minute addition helped them out a lot. It could very well be the reason they kissed, but I think it’s also the reason why ‘Separated at Birth’ is the worst of their tropes.

Plot:

Wanda and Pietro: In ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ these two share the same plot. They both turn to Ultron to help them get revenge, they both play evil for a awhile, and then they both change their ways. The major differences happen towards the end of the film, and mostly with Clint Barton. In one battle, Wanda attempts to use her abilities on Clint Barton. He avoids it, but the entire situation makes him realize just how young Wanda and Pietro really are. In the end, this winds up forming a deep connection between him and Wanda. When Wanda becomes terrified by Ultron’s final attack, he manages to bring up her confidence. Meanwhile, his relationship with Pietro ends up causing Pietro to sacrifice his life to save Clint. And, of course, after that Wanda’s story branches from Pietro’s entirely. She survives and spends several movies exploring her powers and her relationship with Vision. She becomes even closer with Clint after the loss of her brother. When they’re both alive, Wanda and Pietro share their storyline. The only major moments you get of them alone occur during fight sequences. It doesn’t help make them individually important to the plot.

Luke and Leia: These two have two very different plot lines throughout the series. Leia is a general who spends most of her time using her diplomatic skills to go from planet to planet, gaining resources and meeting new people. Luke is a Jedi who spends most of his time learning how to use his abilities to fight off the Sith. Their storylines only come together when the entire Rebel Alliance is together for a mission. The separate storylines are excellent and help highlight both of their different personalities, but it doesn’t make their sibling relationship a very large plot point. There are a few fun scenes with the two of them, but the relationship the series builds up the most is the friendship between Han, Leia, and Luke. It doesn’t do much in the way of strengthening Luke and Leia’s relationship specifically.

Winner: Luke and Leia take it. I can complain about the lack of focus on their relationship all I want, but that really isn’t my main focus in this section. My main focus is making sure that the twins represented here are important to the plot as individuals. While Wanda and Pietro are important to the plot together, they aren’t separated at all until Pietro dies. Luke and Leia aren’t together too often, but they have different storylines that make them equally important. Twins are too often given the same position within the plot. Luke and Leia aren’t like that. They’re able to grow as individuals.

Final Result:

This was close. Even writing this I wasn’t initially sure of the outcome. But Luke and Leia win it. Luke and Leia are almost too good to be true when it comes to twin representation. They’re in a major franchise where a huge twin trope is used, but they avoid almost every other twin trope entirely. They’re written as completely separate characters, which is very rarely done with twins in anything. They’re so well done that I believe it’s partly an accident. My main complaint with them is that they have an on-screen kiss, but otherwise there’s no unnatural closeness. The kiss wasn’t even an actual kiss, it was done completely to make Han jealous. It doesn’t make it any less gross, but Wanda and Pietro have moments that make me uncomfortable, too. All in all, Luke and Leia have my respect. Plus, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher had an off-screen sibling relationship that was so strong, it showed through even when the writing didn’t. Their reuniting scene in ‘The Last Jedi’ still makes me cry.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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