Marvel: Let’s Talk Wanda Maximoff

Screenshot of Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in ‘WandaVision’. Copyright goes to Walt Disney Studios and Marvel Studios.

Hey! Hallie here!

With the Super Bowl airing today we were gifted with a lot of Marvel trailers and footage. The biggest standout for me was the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” trailer. There are so many huge things this trailer revealed, some which I’m very excited about (Professor X is back???) and some that I’m very concerned about (The multiverse has never looked so confusing). Wanda Maximoff stole my attention through it all, though. Of course she did. She’s currently my favorite character in the MCU and the amount of Marvel fans who are the same has been exponentially rising since ‘WandaVision’. But the controversy around the character has risen too. Many women have been outright attacked for liking Wanda because of her complicated morality. Some have even gone as far as to say that the MCU has failed entirely to make her likable as they seemingly inch towards a more villainous story for her. I, obviously, disagree. So let’s discuss this character and why so many women are rallying around a line she was given in the newest ‘Multiverse of Madness’ trailer.

Wanda Maximoff So Far:

This character, and her fan reaction, has been interesting to track over the years. She was introduced alongside her brother Pietro in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’. She spent most of the film almost attached to Pietro, starting out as a misguided anti-Stark villain and ending the film having been recruited to the Avengers. Many argue that she didn’t have enough personality here, but given that the movie was one of Joss Whedon’s, I’m glad it was so jam packed that he didn’t have time to ruin her character. That said, I feel Elizabeth Olsen did allow some personality to come through. She was stubborn but unsure, naive but extremely intelligent, and very compassionate. Her immediate interest in Vision despite the trepidation everyone else approached him with betrayed her large heart, as did her slowly developing father/daughter relationship with Clint Barton. The movie ended with our first hint to her power, caused by the death of Pietro, to set up the character. Moving on from this she appeared in ‘Civil War’, a film that solidified her personality and developed her relationship with Vision. The film highlighted her serious power right from the off by having her accidentally blow up part of a building. Though she hadn’t intended to blow up this building, and the move resulted in less casualties than it would have had she done nothing, Tony felt she was dangerous and imprisoned her. Her break out ended in more Wanda fan hate for really no reason at all. From what I gathered, some fans appeared to be angry at Wanda for fighting back against Vision to escape when Vision had, only moments earlier, been wiping the floor with Clint Barton. It wasn’t like she had much of a choice. However, overall Wanda saw more fans from this movie because of her fleshed out personality and because of the interest in the developing romance between her and Vision.

Next were the appearances in ‘Infinity War’ and ‘Endgame’. In the former we got to see her die. But not before she had to destroy Vision, whom she was now in a relationship with, because only she had the ability to match the mind stone’s power. And then she had to watch Thanos rewind time to destroy Vision all over again. Fun. In ‘Endgame’ she avenged Vision by almost singlehandedly destroying Thanos in yet another display of immense power. Her grief over Vision lead right into ‘WandaVision’, a project that I firmly believe is one of the best character pieces Marvel has ever done. Here we got a good mix of Wanda’s sense of humor, compassion, and dangerous grief. Wanda’s entire storyline throughout the MCU has been marred by judgement and pain, so it wasn’t a big ask of the audience to believe that Wanda would reality shift an entire town and brainwash the people inside just to bring Vision back. But it was an accident despite her protectiveness of the home she created, and if that wasn’t enough, Monica’s sympathy for Wanda ensured that the audience understood exactly why Wanda was doing what she was doing. After it all she even let Vision and her boys go for the sake of those she had hurt, though her possession of the Darkhold proved she hadn’t given up the life she created. And really, who can blame her? A lot of the more recent negative opinions over Wanda have stemmed from her treatment of the townspeople she was controlling, but not only does the show make clear that Wanda isn’t completely aware of what she’s done to them, it’s similar to what Druig of ‘The Eternals’ does without facing any of the repercussions Wanda does. I clearly feel the criticisms of her in this regard are unfair.

What I’m Concerned About:

You’ll notice that despite all of the foreshadowing in past appearances that imply Wanda is capable of becoming dark and powerful, she’s never actually gone bad. Wanda’s always had a very strong conscience that’s allowed her to become more aware of herself and put a stop to behaviors that are destructive. Some people have mistaken ‘WandaVision’ for the beginning of Wanda’s villain arc. If Wanda goes full villain in ‘Multiverse of Madness’, that will be the start of her villain arc. Wanda defeated Agatha Harkness and put aside her feelings so she could fix her mistakes at the end of ‘WandaVision’. That’s not villain behavior. Which means ‘Multiverse of Madness’ has the task of making Wanda’s turn to the dark as smooth and as character accurate as possible. Wanda’s clearly been through a lot of devastating moments throughout the MCU’s run. She also hasn’t really had anyone to lean on this whole time except for Vision, who she’s lost three times at this point. I mean, look at her comforting herself in the ‘Multiverse of Madness’ trailer. She clearly feels alone and it’s not like Clint showed up to Westview. There’s already a very good backbone for Wanda turning her back on the world in favor of trying to get at least two seconds of happiness. But, once again, she’s never gone evil and her conscience has never gone away. I’m concerned that ‘Multiverse of Madness’ will just wipe away the kindness we’ve seen from her in favor of diving headfirst into her villain story. I’m afraid they’re going to focus only on Wanda’s possession of the Darkhold and avoid mentioning that she made amends with Monica and let Vision fade away. We can’t erase Wanda’s goodness to get to the badness.

What I’m Excited About:

For one, seeing the Scarlet Witch in all of her glory is absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to see her fight against what appears to be Captain Marvel. I can’t wait to see how far her illusions can go. And I can’t wait to see her take some of her confidence back. Wanda has an amazing line in the trailer that mentions the scrutiny she gets for breaking the rules that Stephen Strange doesn’t get when he does the same. All of the women who’ve been standing behind Wanda while fans hurl insults at her for Westview feel that in our souls. Because villainous characters, and even heroes who have done morally ambiguous things, get a pass if they’re a guy. Meanwhile, I’ve seen countless women being needlessly attacked for backing female characters who have done similar things. I want to see Wanda take on these criticisms herself. I want to see her decide, as she mentioned in ‘Civil War’, that others opinions of her don’t matter. I want to see her kick ass and prove that she’s complicated and powerful. Both an immense ally and an immense foe. At this point, it would be kind of cathartic to see her destroy some things, even with me being cautious about the way they write her villain arc. Also, I don’t know when White Vision’s going to show up next, but the unfinished business she has with him is one of the most interesting loose threads in the MCU right now. Her role in the newest ‘Doctor Strange’ film is only one of her future appearances to look forward to.

The ‘Multiverse of Madness’ trailer and TV spot gave me a lot to think about. As a pretty vocal skeptic of the multiverse storylines we’ve seen take over the MCU, I’m kind of terrified by the sheer amount of craziness we’re being promised in ‘Doctor Strange’. But more than any of that, I just want them to do right by Wanda. She’s one of the best characters in the MCU and I want to see her get even more interesting as time goes on.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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