By David T. Valentin
After a month’s long pushback for its release date, WandaVision finally arrived just last Friday on January 15th. The show takes place in a post-Infinity War and follows the life of Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as they navigate their new life together in a small town. But there’s only one big, big problem. Vision is dead, murdered by Thanos during his quest to complete his infinity gauntlet by obtaining all six infinity stones. Even worse, Wanda and Vision can’t recall how they came to this small little town filled with curious people.
The show is filmed similar to old-time American comedy shows like I Love Lucy and Bewitched in black and white until the end of the second episode, giving the show a surreal feeling as if everything happening is simply made up with magic. Throughout the show we meet a few of the neighbors and friends in this town, like Vision’s coworkers, Wanda’s PTA friends who keep creepily repeating “For the children” during their charity event, and a peculiar neighbor named Agnes who oddly keeps showing up when Wanda needs her. We’ll unpack all that in a minute though. At the end of the second episode, Wanda and Vision decide they want kids. And, all of a sudden, like everything else that’s been happening throughout the episode, Wanda is pregnant. Suddenly the black and white slowly fades away, bringing the TV show into color. The transition makes everything more real, but oddly stranger because of the repeated ending shots for both episodes of someone watching Wanda and Vision through a television screen frantically asking, “who’s doing this to you?” over and over. There are plenty of hints, clues, and WTF moments that might leave fans asking, what did I just watch? Luckily, we have you covered.
For those of you unfamiliar with the comics or Wanda, Marvel shifting its focus to her is a HUGE deal. To give you all a little back story, Wanda Maximoff, and her twin brother Pietro Maximoff, started off in the comics as the mutant twin children of Magneto, Max Eisenhardt, which means that the twos originally started off as villains in Magneto’s Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. After a run in with the X-men, the twins abandon their father and seek refuge with the Avengers. Unfortunately, due to rights issues over at Marvel, however, the true parentage of the twins has changed. Though, with Marvel reacquiring the rights to the X-men from Fox, that could change again. But we’ll see.
Watching Wanda’s powers unraveling throughout the movies might be a little confusing as well, and rightly so. You might be asking, what exactly are her powers? Telekinesis? Energy manipulation? Magic? The answer to that is also confusing involving many, many retcons to Wanda’s character over the years.
Wanda originally starts off with the mutant power of probability manipulation, which simply means that she manipulates the probability of something happening. For instance, say she wants a tree to burst into flames. So, she can manipulate the probability of that tree bursting into flames. So that means that she can also give good luck and bad luck to her friends and foes respectively. But to Stan Lee and to writers going forward that wasn’t really interesting. Eventually she received the Hex bolt, which was simply a visual representation of her powers. But that was still confusing so eventually In Avengers #128 she began to study under Agatha Harkness and would continue to do so going forward. Eventually, her powers continued to grow and grow and grow, until they eventually evolved into reality warping powers apparently through the demon Mephisto.
Within the comics one of the most pivotal moments of reality warping was the House of M—an event that lead to the Wanda, aka the Scarlet Witch, creating a reality where mutants are the dominant species on the planet and Magneto is their leader. However, after Wolverine realizes that the world is fake and recruits other mutants who realize the same thing, they find Magneto to fix the world. During the scuffle, it is revealed that Quicksilver was actually the one who convinced Wanda to create this fake reality. Magneto becomes enraged and kills Quicksilver. Saddened by her twin brother’s death, Wanda recites the words “No more mutants” which then reverts the world back to normal but with one exception: there are only a handful of mutants in the world now.
As you can see, despite Wanda being an incredibly influential character in the Marvel Comic Universe (MCU), she has a pretty messed up and inconsistent background when it comes to writing her story throughout the continuity. Which is exactly why the MCU finally giving her some screen time is so important, and why the MCU adaption of Scarlet Witch has been my favorite—because it’s a chance for Marvel to finally give Scarlet Witch consistency and a story they can explore without needing to completely retcon her past every few years.
But not only is it a chance for Marvel to finally give Scarlet Witch a consistent story, it’s also an opportunity for Marvel to fix their complete lack of attention towards its female superheroes. Yes, we got Captain Marvel, which was pretty decent. But even then, it has taken Marvel 12 years and 23 movies to finally make a Black Widow movie despite Black Widow being so important to the MCU. And even then, they also disrespected Black Widow with the chameleon female character trope—giving her an inconsistent personality in order for them to fill multiple character tropes for women instead of Marvel giving more depth to Black Widow and adding in more female characters with the depth they give their male characters.
Will Marvel give not only Wanda the attention she deserves, but their other female superheroes as well? Or will they use Scarlet Witch for story purposes and just toss her to the side?