What Makes Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch the Strongest Marvel Hero

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Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch in WandaVision's finale

Credit: Marvel Studios

The Marvel Cinematic Universe will turn thirteen years old this May and it has been a wonderful ride so far. Over the course of 23 films and multiple television series, the cast of characters that Marvel fans have met is quickly becoming countless. And it shows no signs of slowing down any time soon with a packed Phase 4 already in the works.

It is a true reflection of the vast diversity of the Marvel Comics in which the films are based. But who can possibly keep track of everyone from Luis (Michael Peña) from Ant-Man (2015) to Melinda May (Ming Na-Wen) from Agents of SHIELD?

WandaVision
Credit: Marvel

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In this article, we will take a deep dive into one of the rising stars of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wanda Maximoff aka the Scarlet Witch as played by Elizabeth Olsen. And answer the question “who is Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?”

scarlet witch concept art
Credit: Age of Ultron Concept Art by Andy Park

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Introduction of Scarlet Witch in the MCU

Marvel first introduced the Scarlet Witch alongside her twin brother Pietro Maximoff aka Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor Johnson) in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). The follow-up to the first Avengers (2012) was directed by Joss Whedon that one of the main reasons we love superheroes and their films today.

Wanda and Pietro began their arcs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as villains. They joined forces with Ultron (James Spader) to stop the Avengers. The Maximoff twins blamed Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downing Jr.) for the death of their parents.

strongest avenger
Credit: Marvel

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However, after Ultron revealed that his plan was to eradicate all life on Earth by crashing a city into the world like an asteroid, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver switched sides and helped Captain America / Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and the rest of the team to save the world. They put their Hydra past behind them and did the right thing when it counted most.

In the resulting conflict, known as the battle of Sokovia, Quicksilver gave his life to save Hawkeye / Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) and a group of civilians. Now alone, Scarlet Witch decided to become an Avenger, making her the first female superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (although it was later revealed that Captain Marvel was running around the cosmos at some point).

wandavision's finale
Credit: Marvel Studios

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In MCU canon, Scarlet Witch was originally said to have gained her powers from experimentation at the hands of Hydra using the Mind Stone. It was later retconned in 2018 by a visual dictionary which said that the Infinity Stone in Loki’s scepter “unlocked something latent inside Wanda.”

This retcon was expanded in WandaVision, which showed Marvel fans two key flashbacks. The first was the moment her parents were killed. Previously, Wanda believed it was luck that stopped the Stark Industries bomb from killing her and her brother. But Agatha revealed that she cast a probability hex to stop the explosion.

Tony Stark and WAnda Maximoff
Credit: Marvel Studios

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This means that Wanda always had magical powers even before the Scarlet Witch was exposed to the power of the Mind Stone in the second reveal of WandaVision. The moment she touches the stone, a version of Scarlet Witch from the future appears before Wanda to unlock the full potential of her chaos magic.

At the end of WandaVision, Wanda leaves Westview and while her path forward is unclear, she is confirmed to appear in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. She may either fight against or alongside Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) in his sequel.

If Marvel is setting them up for a showdown then the Sorcerer Supreme has his work cut out for him as Wanda’s powers have grown exponentially since he last saw her back when she was already capable of taking down Thanos single-handedly.

wanda creates hex
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Powers and Abilities of Scarlet Witch

Scarlet Witch‘s abilities are perhaps the least explained in the Marvel Universe. Since Wanda’s first appearance in Ultron, her powers were seen as mainly a form of telekinesis, the ability to move objects with her mind. She was also telepathic. Andin WandaVision her magical powers have finally taken center stage.

Telepathy

Though her telepathy was never used to its full potential beyond her initial appearance, where she trapped the Avengers in nightmares during Age of Ultron. It was Tony Stark’s vision of Thanos that inspired him to create Ultron in that film. Later in Ultron, she peers into the villain’s mind to discover his plot to destroy the world and decided to join forces with the Avengers.

However, after that, she never used her telepathy in the MCU again until WandaVision. Her telepathy is never mentioned or shown in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, or Avengers: Endgame. In the comics, she uses this ability to reach into people’s minds to communicate with them or control them.

In WandaVision, she may be using her telepathy to control the citizens of Westview or it could be the result of the spell she cast to rewrite reality. But she does use the same nightmare trick she used on the Avengers on Agatha Harkness during their climactic battle.

tony stark and wanda maximoff
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Telekinesis

Wanda’s telekinesis was strong enough to rip apart the Mind Stone in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). In the final battle against Thanos in Avengers: Endgame (2019) she was strong enough to take on the Mad Titan directly. This established her as possibly the strongest avenger. He had to call in an airstrike to stop her.

mind stone wanda
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Wanda’s telekinesis is never fully explained in the MCU. It’s typically the ability to move objects with her mind but hers works differently than that. In the comics, it is related to her Hex magic where she can affect probability, it amounts to if there is a chance a car might go hurtling she can may that probability certain.

In the MCU, it is explained as she can “use energy to affect and control molecules and particles.” She mainly uses her telekineses to throw psionic blasts or objects at her opponents. She does also occasionally use her telekinesis to fly and create shields. Her failed protective barrier in Civil War is what led to the Sokovia Accords. She mainly uses her force fields to deflect rather than contain attacks since that incident.

Chaos Magic or Hex Powers

By the start of WandaVision, Wanda’s power reached a whole new level. She was able to create a hexagon-shaped reality bubble. Inside the “Hex” Wanda can do a lot more than just mind-control people to play a part in her classic sitcom-based delusion. Until WandaVision the MCU seemed to avoid calling her powers “magic” but they have now retconned her story to say she used a Hex spell to save her and her brother from Tony Stark’s bomb.

Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) along with FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) and Thor alumna Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) are able to prove that Wanda is rewriting reality not just mind controlling people to see an illusion. This new level of her abilities made her stronger than even the Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange.

The end of WandaVision saw Wanda run off with the magical book, The Darkhold, and it looks like the Marvel Cinematic Universe will finally have the Scarlet Witch embrace her magical glory. When she returns in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness expect her to have mastered a whole slew of spells like she uses in Marvel Comics.

wanda creating vision
Credit: Marvel Studios

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She was able to use the power of the Mind Stone that lived within her to recreate Vision (Paul Bettany). Since the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016), when Scarlet Witch lost control of her powers, the two characters have shared a deep bond. In a flashback, Vision comforts Wanda after the loss of her twin brother with the now-iconic line “what is grief but love persevering.”

Before his death in Avengers: Endgame, Vision bought a plot of land for them to grow old in, but they never got the chance. Wanda uses her reality-warping power to manifest her dream life with him where they can live out idealized suburban lives. She is even able to create two sons: Billy (Julian Hilliard) and Tommy (Jett Klyne) seemingly from nothing with just the power of her will.

Vision, Wiccan, Speed, and Scarlet Witch
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Throughout the series, Billy and Tommy gain the abilities of their comic book counterparts, Wiccan and Speed. Tommy/ Speed has super-speed like his uncle Quicksilver, while Billy/ Wiccan has magical reality-warping powers that are sometimes as strong as Wanda’s.

After Wanda accepts the loss of Vision and moves forward in her grief, her sons seem to disappear from the Marvel Universe. But in the final post-credit scene their voices called out to her from somewhere in the multiverse, hinting at their return for a future Young Avengers property.

One more layer of the Scarlet Witch’s ability to rewrite reality is that the barrier of her “Hex” could rewrite the DNA of someone passing through it. This becomes the origin of Monica Rambeau’s powers, adding her to the roster of female superheroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

wanda comic powers
Credit: Marvel Comics

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Differences in Scarlet Witch between the MCU and the comics

Comic book fans are used to the way Marvel Studios adjusts characters for the big screen. For example, Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel has a much different origin story than that of her Marvel movie character. Some older versions of these characters can be problematic and Disney would not tarnish the current popularity of superheroes by including these aspects.

Perhaps the biggest change made to Scarlet Witch is the erasure of her status as a mutant. When Elizabeth Olsen’s character debuted, 20th Century Fox still had the movie rights to the X-Men and the rest of the mutants. So Wanda was adapted for the MCU without her x-gene.

no more mutants
Credit: Marvel Comics

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In the comic book storyline, House of M, which established the groundwork WandaVision was built on, Wanda’s reality-warping powers allowed her to erase the majority of mutants from the Marvel Comic’s Universe with a single sentence. Many Marvel fans hoped that WandaVision would have her do the opposite since Disney now has the rights to mutants since they bought Fox.

Throughout her appearance in the films, Marvel Studio’s also shied away from Wanda’s Romani heritage, which angered some fans. There was a nod to her gypsy origins with the Sokovian fortune-teller costumer she wore at one point in the series.

This was most likely an attempt to separate her MCU abilities from her magical ones in the comics. Magic was not introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe until Doctor Strange (2016). Up until that point in the MCU timeline, Kevin Feige wanted to ground the films in a more scientific manner.

wandavision's finale
Credit – WallPaperCave – Caveman

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Scarlet Witch in WandaVision

Before WandaVision, Wanda Maximoff was never called the “Scarlet Witch”. Since Wanda’s powers in the films came from a more scientific origin of exposure to the Mind Stone, she was about as magical as Peter Parker / Spider-Man (Tom Holland).

With a nine-episode TV show, Wanda was allowed to breathe and grow as a character. The extra time allowed Disney to expand her origin and push her down a new path, much like how Star Wars was able to do the same thing with Boba Fett in The Mandalorian.

Wanda in the final episode
Credit: Marvel Studios

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Finally, Wanda was able to reach down to her magical roots and fully become the Scarlet Witch. Now that she could do a lot more than throw cars at her foes, it unlocks a whole new level of potential. If she was able to magically create superpowered children it is possible that she has no limits.

Her ability to create life sets her as the exact opposite of Thanos (Josh Brolin) who used the Infinity Gauntlet to wipe out half of all life. Marvel is now in the process of moving beyond the Infinity Saga in phase 4 but has suffered many delays.

The coronavirus has affected every Disney enterprise from television and films to theme parks. WandaVision director Matt Shakman told Kevin Smith on his Fatman Beyond podcast that while most of the filming was done before the shut-down there was a lot left on the cutting room floor.

wandavision goodbye
Credit: Marvel Studios

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The scenes left out would have expanded Monica Rambeau’s role as well as a reveal for Agatha’s pet rabbit Senor Scratchy. Some of what did not make it into the final cut of these series could have tied up a lot of the loose ends that left many fans disappointed with the finale.

One thing that sets WandaVision apart from other entries into the MCU is how theorists clamored to unravel the mystery at the set of its plot. Now those theorists have turned their sights on Wanda’s future. But we will have to wait and see how her future unfolds. Luckily we can be certain that we have not seen the last of the Scarlet Witch yet.

Let us know in the comments below what you hope to see in the future for Scarlet Witch.

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