Scarlet Witch

fictional character in the Marvel universe, having supernatural powers

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Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch.jpg
Art by Frank Cho.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe X-Men #4 (March 1964)
Created byStan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter egoWanda Marya Maximoff
SpeciesHuman mutant (originally)
Human mutate (retconned)
Team affiliations
Partnerships
Notable aliasesWanda Frank
Wanda Djanga Maximoff[1]
Emperor of Magic[2]
Abilities
  • Superhuman genes allow energy and reality manipulation and powerful access to magical energies, such as chaos magic[3]
  • Probability manipulation
  • Elemental manipulation
  • Flight
  • Able to sense magic
  • Spell casting
  • Nexus being with great influence on time
  • Teleportation, time manipulation, reality warping[4][5][6]

The Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character was created by writer Stan Lee and artist Jack Kirby. Her first appearance was in The X-Men #4 (March 1964) in the Silver Age of Comic Books. Originally said to have the ability to alter probability, the Scarlet Witch has been depicted as a powerful sorceress since the 1980s and was later said to be powerful enough to alter reality. For most of her comic book history, she is portrayed as a mutant, a member of a fictional subspecies of humans born with an "X-gene" that grants superhuman abilities and traits. This was revised via a 2015 storyline establishing that her superhuman traits are a result of experimentation done by High Evolutionary when she was a child.[7]

Scarlet Witch is first depicted as a reluctant supervillain along with her twin brother Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver, both founding members of the Brotherhood of Mutants. A year after her debut, she joined the Avengers superhero team and ever since has often been depicted as a regular member of that or related teams (such as the West Coast Avengers and Force Works). In 1975, she married her android teammate Vision, later using borrowed magical forces to make herself pregnant, resulting in twin sons William ("Billy") and Thomas. Stories in 1989 wiped Thomas and Billy from existence (they would later reappear as the heroes called Wiccan and Speed) and removed Vision's emotions, leading to the annulment of his and Wanda's marriage.

The character's in-universe backstory and parentage have changed more than once. During the 1960s, she and Quicksilver are said to be the mutant twin offspring of two human Romani parents, Django and Marya Maximoff. Later, it is said the children were adopted, given to the Maximoffs by the geneticist called the High Evolutionary, leaving their true parentage a mystery. In 1974, it is said their parents are Golden Age heroes Bob Frank / Whizzer and Madeline Joyce Frank / Miss America. Wanda then refers to herself as Wanda Frank for a time. In 1982, Magneto concludes he is Wanda and Pietro's father. In 2014, the AXIS crossover revealed Pietro and Wanda are not related to Magneto. In 2015, the twins discover they are not mutants and their superhuman traits are the result of the High Evolutionary's experiments. The 2015–2017 Scarlet Witch series reveals Wanda and Pietro's adopted parents Django and Marya Maximoff are biologically their aunt and uncle. Their real mother is confirmed to be Natalya Maximoff, the previous Scarlet Witch, a sorceress whose father was the Scarlet Warlock.

Along with starring in two self-titled limited series of her own, the character appears in several Marvel-related films, television series, video games, and merchandise. Additionally, Elizabeth Olsen portrays Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch in the Marvel Cinematic Universe films Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Captain America: Civil War (2016), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Avengers: Endgame (2019), as well as the Disney+ miniseries WandaVision (2021). Olsen will reprise the role in the upcoming film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022).

Publication history

The Scarlet Witch and her twin brother Quicksilver debuted as a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men #4 (March 1964). They were depicted as reluctant villains, only wanting safety from persecution and uninterested in team leader Magneto's plans for global domination. The Scarlet Witch is depicted as calm and submissive, like many female comic book characters of the time.[8] Her costume was mainly composed of a bathing suit with straps, opera gloves, short boots, a leotard covering her body, a superhero cape, and a wimple, all of which were colored in shades of red. She was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.[9]

Lee and Kirby also produced the Avengers comic book, composed of Marvel's most prominent solo heroes at the time. Save for Captain America, Lee and Kirby eventually had all the Avengers leave to focus on their individual careers, replacing them with former villains from other comics who did not have a series of their own: the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver from X-Men, and Hawkeye from Iron Man's adventures in Tales of Suspense. The team was known as "Cap's Kooky Quartet."[10] Although common in later years, such a wide-scale change in the roster of a superhero group was completely unprecedented (usually, superhero teams only exchanged one or two members at a time rather than almost the entire roster at once).[11] Lee and the following Avengers writer, Roy Thomas, hinted that other Avengers were romantically interested in the Scarlet Witch. The twins later leave the team after a crossover with the X-Men.

Some years later, Thomas brought Wanda and Pietro back into the team and started a long-running romantic relationship between the Scarlet Witch and the android hero Vision, thinking it would help with the series' character development. He elected those characters because they were only published in the Avengers comic book and did not star in solo adventures, so relationship drama in the series would not interfere with stories in other publications.[12] Their first kiss took place during the Kree–Skrull War arc. Thomas also added Hawkeye into a love triangle with both characters, eventually having the archer realize that Vision and Wanda were truly in love.[13] A fan of Golden Age heroes, Roy Thomas often found ways to integrate the older characters into modern-day stories. In Giant-Size Avengers #1 (August 1974), Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are revealed to be the children of Golden Age superheroes Whizzer (Robert Frank) and Miss America (Madeline Joyce).

Steve Englehart succeeded Thomas as the writer of Avengers. He gave Wanda a more assertive personality and removed the highly-protective Quicksilver from the team. In 1974, Englehart expanded Wanda's powers by having her learn witchcraft from Agatha Harkness.[14] The Vision and the Scarlet Witch married in Giant-Size Avengers #4 (June 1975), the end of the Celestial Madonna story arc. In 1979, Wanda learns Bob Frank and Madeline Joyce are not her and Pietro's parents.[15] Wanda then stars in the 4-issue limited series The Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1982–83), by writer Bill Mantlo and penciler Rick Leonardi.[16] In this limited series, Magneto was retconned to be Wanda and Pietro's father.[17] Englehart returned to the characters with penciler Richard Howell for a second limited series, in which the Scarlet Witch gets pregnant by magical means and delivers twin sons, William and Thomas.[18] Englehart took over as writer for the spin-off series West Coast Avengers, later adding Vision and Wanda to the team.

John Byrne later replaced Englehart on the series (which was renamed Avengers West Coast). He wrote and illustrated the controversial "Vision Quest" storyline, where the Vision is dismantled and turned into an emotionless being who later even refuses the chance to regain his emotions (leading to the annulment of his marriage to the Scarlet Witch). After this, Byrne retconned William and Thomas to be magical constructs created by Wanda experiencing a "hysterical" pregnancy and then subconsciously using her magic to create the children. At most, Wanda's magic should've only created illusions, but the twins were seemingly given life because Wanda unknowingly empowered them with pieces of the essence of the demon lord Mephisto. Mephisto later absorbs the children into himself, creating a bond to Wanda's magic and soul. To sever the connection, Agatha Harkness removes Wanda's memory of the children.[19] Around this same time, Wanda is brainwashed twice by different villains, first to become a servant for the parasitic life form That Which Endures[20] and then to be a "Bride of Set" during the crossover Atlantis Attacks. Although her mind is restored both times, the repeated trauma renders her catatonic. At this time, the Vision decides he can't help Wanda or the Avenger West Coast and returns to the NYC team.

Byrne's next storyline involved Wanda becoming a villain yet again, now displaying greater and more focused power than before, and rejoining Magneto.[21] Writers Roy and Dann Thomas took over Avengers West Coast, and reveal Wanda's new personality, attacks on the Avengers, and increase in power were all due to manipulations by the time villain Immortus, who had been seen watching the Avengers during some of Byrne's issues. The storyline revealed Wanda is a "nexus being", a person who greatly affects timelines. By influencing Wanda to tap into her nexus energies, Immortus caused her increase in power and the creation of the children. Immortus wishes to use her to warp reality, but Wanda comes to her senses and gives up her nexus energies. Roy and Dann Thomas then revealed that a side effect of this caused Wanda to remember her children and temporarily lose her powers. The website Women in Refrigerators interviewed Englehart about these changes, who said he did not like them.[22]

Multiple stories after the Immortus storyline featured Wanda remembering and mourning her children, and even judging teammate Spider-Woman for bringing her child along on an Avengers assignment.[23][24] Roy Thomas later wrote the short story "A Study in Scarlet", with art by Al Bigley and Mike DeCarlo, published in Avengers West Coast Annual #7 (1992). The short story featured Wanda reflecting on how she was glad Agatha's memory-blocking spell only lasted a short time, as she appreciates having had the chance to mourn her children properly. She then accidentally creates a window into another timeline where she sees a version of events where she, Vision, and the children remained together. This brings her comfort and helps her feel she can cope with the loss better.[25]

Following the Immortus storyline, Wanda is a more serious-minded character, wishing to atone for turning against the Avengers twice in a short amount of time and endangering reality. When she regains her powers, her hexes are initially more difficult to control and only on the power level she had when she first joined the Avengers. To compensate, she practices the magic Harkness taught her.[26] In 1994, Avengers West Coast ended, and several of its team members reformed as an independent group led by Wanda in the series Force Works. The new title ran for only a couple of years. In 1994, a Scarlet Witch four-issue limited series was written by Andy Lanning and Dan Abnett, and pencilled by John Higgins.[27]

Marvel Comics was nearing bankruptcy in 1996. The Avengers and other titles were relaunched in a new continuity and line of books called Heroes Reborn, outsourced to the studios of Image Comics artists. Rob Liefeld worked with the relaunched Avengers title and included the Scarlet Witch in the team, making her a sorcerer with no mutant abilities (the Heroes Reborn reality did not make any reference to any people born with mutant powers). After Marvel renegotiated the terms of the deal, Liefeld was replaced with writer Walter Simonson and penciler Michael Ryan. The project was a success, boosting the sales of the titles and bringing Marvel Comics out of bankruptcy.[28] The project ended after a year, and the Avengers were returned to the mainstream Marvel reality. The Avengers series relaunched again, now under Kurt Busiek and George Pérez. Pérez designed a new, complicated design for Wanda, increasing the volume of curls in her hair and giving her a costume with Romani influences. Pérez commented he preferred this more challenging design but accepted other artists would find it irksome.[29] Later when he became the artist on Avengers, Alan Davis asked to change the design because it didn't work well with his simpler, less detailed style.[30] During Busiek's stories, Wanda once again becomes a powerful sorceress, now tapping into the energy of "chaos" magic. Busiek clarifies her true mutant power is to tap into magical energy fields and manipulate them, just as Magneto taps into and manipulates electromagnetic fields.

Marvel decided to relaunch the Avengers series again, with a new roster, headquarters, atmosphere, and creative direction. To promote the change and gain reader interest, the inciting event was depicted in the 2004 story Avengers Disassembled written by Brian Michael Bendis and with art by David Finch. In the story, a remark by the Wasp causes Wanda to remember her children (how and when Wanda once again lost the memories of her children is not explained). She suddenly relives the trauma of their loss and feels betrayed by the Avengers, both for allowing Harkness to cloud her memories and for being unable to save her children from Mephisto. Emotionally overwhelmed and simultaneously experiencing a drastic increase in power, Wanda kills Agatha Harkness and causes the Avengers to suffer their "worst day" by altering the minds of She-Hulk and Iron Man, and causing simulations of the villain Ultron and the alien Kree to attack. This leads to the apparent deaths of different characters and the destruction of Avengers Mansion. Wanda is discovered to be the culprit and stopped, after which she falls into a coma. The Avengers disbands, then reforms in New Avengers. To explain her sudden increase in power, the sorcerer Dr. Strange says Wanda's actual mutant power is to reshape reality, adding that her talk of tapping into "chaos magic" is a lie because such a force does not exist. This contradicted earlier comics where Dr. Strange himself uses chaos magic and "catastrophe magic", and later Marvel stories confirm chaos magic is a real force sorcerers can access.

Wanda was seen again in the limited series House of M, creating an alternate version of Earth. When Earth's heroes defeat her, she causes "M-Day," removing the powers of most mutants on Earth. She then appeared in the Young Avengers follow-up series, Avengers: The Children's Crusade (2010-2012), which retconned Avengers Disassembled by revealing Wanda's extreme actions and enhanced power levels during recent stories were the result of tapping into an enormous source of energy that then corrupted her, similar to when she was possessed by Chthon, brainwashed by That Which Endures, and corrupted by Immortus. This was now the explanation as to how she was able to warp reality and why she would no longer be that powerful, and partially exonerated her from her actions against the Avengers and during M-Day. Wanda was again portrayed as someone who wanted to atone for her past, accepting partial responsibility rather than completely blaming outside influences, allying herself with Doctor Doom. Avengers: The Children's Crusade also now referred to the children of William and Thomas not as "pieces" of Mephisto's essence but as "lost souls" who had been taken away by Mephisto, indicating they actually had been alive and explaining how they could be reincarnated as the teenage heroes Speed and Wiccan.

The Scarlet Witch is a regular character in Uncanny Avengers (2012), beginning with issue #1. The 2014 AXIS crossover retconned the character's parentage again, revealing Magneto is not biologically her father, contrary to that relationship's place in the canon for 32 years. In 2015, it was revealed in Uncanny Avengers (Vol. 2) #4 that she and Pietro are not mutants but humans who received superhuman genetics due to the experiments of the High Evolutionary. In Wanda's case, the High Evolutionary's genetic tampering made her more powerful in magic than she would have been otherwise. This plot twist was published while Marvel Studios and 20th Century Fox had a legal dispute over the film rights to the character. Fox had a film license for the X-Men, related characters, and most Marvel characters designated as mutants, while Marvel Studios was about to introduce Wanda and Pietro in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron.[31]

Under the All-New, All-Different Marvel branding, the character received her own ongoing solo series from late 2015 to 2017, written by James Robinson and illustrated by a rotating team of artists. Robinson explained he was influenced by the work of Matt Fraction and David Aja on the Hawkeye title: "... they managed to stay true to the character in the Avengers while also taking it in a fresh direction, so it wasn't just that same Avengers character doing solo things, which I don't think ever really works for any sustained period of time for any of those second-tier characters."[32] The 2015 Scarlet Witch series has Wanda investigating supernatural threats with Agatha Harkness at her side. During the series, she encounters the evil Declan Dane, the Emerald Warlock, who declares himself Wanda's arch-enemy. In issues #3 and #4, a journey through the mystical dimension known as the Witch's Road allows Wanda to meet the spirit of her true mother, a sorceress named Natalya Maximoff who also uses the title "Scarlet Witch." Wanda discovers her adopted parents are actually her biological aunt and uncle, and that her bloodline includes many magic-users who chose to identify with the color scarlet. Wanda realizes powerful sorcerers often identify with complex rather than basic or primary colors. Now feeling more secure in her identity, Wanda confidently returns to the role of superhero and resumes her association with the Avengers.

Fictional character biography

Throughout the generations, different members of the Maximoff family, a Romani bloodline, are born with a strong talent for magic. Several members of the family associate their magic with scarlet, calling themselves Scarlet Witch or Scarlet Warlock, just as certain other sorcerers choose to identify with complex rather than basic colors. One Scarlet Warlock has two children, his daughter Natalya Maximoff, a powerful magic-user, and his son Django Maximoff, a medicine man and storyteller whose latent magic abilities bring a strange life to his puppets. Among Natalya's people, red is considered a color of bad luck. Natalya enjoys this and happily adopts the title Scarlet Witch, believing it implies misfortune for her enemies. As the Scarlet Witch, she spends years fighting a variety of mystical enemies that threaten humanity, sometimes aided by allies such as the centuries-old sorceress Agatha Harkness of New Salem.[33] Her brother Django remains with their tribe, making a home in Serbia with his wife Marya. Djanjo and Marya have twins, Ana and Mateo, but the children tragically die while still young.[34]

While still living in Serbia, Natalya has twin children, Pietro Maximoff and Wanda Marya Maximoff. According to the demonic Elder God called Chthon, he witnesses Wanda's birth and infuses her with some of his own magical energy in hopes to one day use her as a host vessel. Avengers Vol. 1 #187 (Marvel Comics, 1979). While she battles more villains and menaces, Natalya leaves her children in the care of her brother and sister in law who now live with other Romany in Novi Pazar, Serbia. The area is soon attacked by the Knights of Wundagore. Their leader and creator, the geneticist Herbert Wyndham, known to many as the High Evolutionary, wants to experiment on children who have the genetics to possibly achieve great superhuman power. Knowing Wanda and Pietro are children of a powerful witch, a local priest gives the twins to the High Evolutionary to stop the attacks. The twins are taken to the High Evolutionary's base at Mount Wundagore in the neighboring country of Transia. According to the High Evolutionary, his experiments allows the twins the potential for power later (and, by chance, also wrongly makes them appear to be mutants to most tests), but the results are not as impressive as he desires.[35] While the children are still at Mount Wundagore, they are attended by Bova, a cow engineered by the High Evolutionary who acts as a nurse. Later on, the retired superhero the Whizzer (Robert Frank) and his pregnant wife Miss America (Madeline Joyce Frank) arrive at Mount Wundagore. Madeline goes into labor, and both baby and mother die. Hoping to ease the suffering of her husband, and believing the children would be better raised away from Mount Wundagore, Bova tells Frank the twins are his children. Overwhelmed by the death of his wife, Frank leaves rather than adopt the children.[36]

Tracking down her children, Natalya Maximoff attacks Wundagore and fights the High Evolutionary's forces to a stand-still. During the attack, she is killed by the father of Wanda and Pietro. Either because he has no more use for the children or is impressed by the heroism of their mother, the High Evolutionary tracks down Django and Marya Maximoff and gives them the twins. Django and Marya decide not to explain the twins' true heritage to them until they are old enough to accept their real mother was a sorceress who died in battle (the Maximoffs mistakenly believe the High Evolutionary's forces killed her).[37] Before the twins reach their tenth birthday, they start to show signs of superhuman abilities, with Pietro using superhuman speed and Wanda casting minor hexes that cause a variety of effects, such as momentarily moving or levitating objects.

Locals who hold prejudice against the Roma people hear rumors of the twins' powers. After Django steals bread to feed his family, the locals attack the Roma tribe, burning down their homes. The Maximoff wagon is set on fire with Marya still inside and Django is beaten by multiple attackers. Wanda and Pietro flee, believing Django and Marya are dead. Unknown to them, Marya survives the fire, though her body and face suffer serious burns and scarring. Django, mourning the loss of yet more children and overwhelmed by guilt that he couldn't protect Marya, suffers a break from reality. He convinces himself Wanda and Pietro were his biological children Ana and Mateo, and that Marya is dead. He starts a new, solitary life, while Marya returns to Serbia and stays with friends.[37]

Repressing much of the memory of their trauma, Wanda and Pietro travel through Transia as homeless orphans for years. During this time, the aggressive Pietro becomes almost obsessively protective of his sister, even referring to her as his "little sister" because she is 13 minutes younger. Wanda's "hex power" becomes focused enough that she can instantly cause bad luck for enemies. When the twins are in their late teens, Wanda uses her power to save a child. This leads to locals accusing her of witchcraft and attempting to burn her alive at a stake. Having heard reports of the twins, the mutant terrorist Magneto arrives and saves her. Learning from the two Maximoffs that their powers emerged naturally and weren't the cause of an outside force (as far as they knew), Magneto concludes Wanda and Pietro are mutants. Telling them they now owe him a debt for his rescue, Magneto makes them his first recruits for the original Brotherhood of Evil Mutants (later simply called the Brotherhood of Mutants).[9] Pietro adopts the codename Quicksilver, while Wanda assumes the name Scarlet Witch. Initially, it is indicated she gets the name from an accusation shouted by a person hoping to burn her at the stake. Later, Wanda reveals the name came into her mind when she first realized she had powers, a sign she was inheriting her mother's magical abilities. During their missions alongside Magneto against the heroic X-Men, the twins only help reluctantly. At times, they work to prevent the X-Men and Magneto's human targets from being seriously harmed or killed. Wanda also deals with the unwanted advances of teammates Toad and Mastermind.[9]

The Avengers

When Magneto is abducted by the cosmic entity Stranger, the original Brotherhood team dissolves and the twins declare their debt is now paid.[38] Wishing to atone for their crimes and help stop threats like Magneto, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch contact the Avengers. At the time, the group's founding roster is ready to go their separate ways (except for Steve Rogers AKA Captain America). Accepting the twins, as well as the archer Hawkeye who had been manipulated into committing crimes and fighting Iron Man in the past, Captain America becomes leader of this new Avengers team. The group is jokingly called by some "Cap's Kooky Quartet."[39]

Wanda is accidentally shot on a mission against Magneto. Enraged, Quicksilver leaves the Avengers with his wounded sister and rejoins Magneto.[40] After a pair of encounters with the X-Men, the twins reaffirm that they don't believe in Magneto's cause or methods and leave him. Some time later, Wanda and Pietro are kidnapped along with several other mutants by the robot Sentinels, but are subsequently freed by the X-Men.[41][42]

After the warlord Arkon kidnaps Wanda, Quicksilver returns to the Avengers for help.[43] After her rescue, the twins rejoin the team. Scarlet Witch then falls in love with recent Avenger recruit the Vision. While he is an android or "synthezoid" (built from a copy of the original Human Torch, a synthetically created man), Vision's personality programming is partly based on the brainwaves of Wonder Man, allowing him to develop his own mind and emotions. Initially guarded because he fears he is a soulless machine and cannot have a relationship with a human, Vision later reveals his feelings for Wanda. Quicksilver objects due to his belief that a "robot" is not capable of genuine love, while Hawkeye resents the romance because he has feelings for Wanda himself.[44] Despite this, the entire team (except for Quicksilver) comes to approve of the pairing.

Wanda and Pietro meet Robert Frank, who reveals he believes them to be his children. Hearing Frank describe how his wife died in childbirth at Mount Wundagore, Wanda believes his story and for some time afterward refers to herself as Wanda Frank.[45] Later on, Django Maximoff comes to America and tells Wanda and Pietro they are his children Ana and Mateo. The twins journey with Django to Wundagore. There, Wanda is temporarily possessed by the demon Chthon, who claims he witnessed her birth and imbued some of his own magical energy into her so she could be a host later on. Meanwhile, Quicksilver meets Bova who confirms that neither the Maximoffs nor the Franks are the twins' parents. Bova claims she delivered Wanda and Pietro herself when a pregnant woman named Magda came to Wundagore after fleeing her dangerous husband, a vengeful man with superhuman abilities. At the end of the adventure, Wanda is freed from her possession and Django dies. Mourning him and wishing to honor that he and his wife raised them for a time, Wanda and Pietro drop the Frank surname and use Maximoff as their last name again.[36] Realizing she has a talent for magic, Wanda becomes an apprentice to the sorceress Agatha Harkness, gaining greater control over her hexes and learning true magic. Agatha does not reveal she knew Wanda's mother Natalya or that Wanda and Pietro are mistaken in thinking they're mutants.[14]

The Scarlet Witch and the Vision get married. While the team approves, Quicksilver still objects and some members of the public are angered by the event, believing neither a mutant nor an android can legally be married.[37] Some time later, the two take a leave of absence from the Avengers in order to establish a life for themselves outside of the team and spend some time focusing on their relationship.[46] The two move to a house in the suburbs of Leonia, New Jersey.[47] The couple meet Robert Frank again, who learns Wanda and Pietro are not his children. He then dies trying to protect Wanda, Vision, and his true son Nuklo from his old enemy Isbisa. Around this time, Magneto attempts once again to track down what happened to Magda, his wife who fled from him years before. Magneto finds Bova, who tells him a woman named Magda arrived years ago, pregnant with twins. After the children Wanda and Pietro were born, Magda then fled. Concluding Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch are his own children, that Magda must have been pregnant when she fled him, Magneto leaves. Shortly after the birth of Pietro's daughter Luna, Magneto visits the child and tells Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch that he is their father, asking to start a new relationship with them. Wanda and Pietro are uneasy about the revelation that Magneto is their father, but accept his claim.[48] Later, prejudiced neighbors burn down Vision and Wanda's house, and they take up residence in Avengers Mansion again, rejoining the team.[49]

When the alien computer ISAAC takes over Vision's personality, he becomes corrupt and takes over international computer and security systems as part of a plan for global domination. He is restored to his proper mind, now having a stronger sense of identity, deciding he is not a copy of Wonder Man but more like a twin. The US government insists on confining Vision and studying him so he can't be taken over by another computer again, claiming that as an Avenger he must comply with orders from the US government. To ensure his freedom, Wanda and Vision quit the Avengers again, returning to a life as private citizens and purchasing a new home in Leonia, New Jersey.[50] Vision then reveals his stronger sense of identity has also led to a desire to have a family with Wanda. While he hopes her magic can make this possible, Wanda is doubtful. The couple is then kidnapped by the residents of New Salem, who reveal they recently killed Agatha Harkness. During a magical ceremony, the corrupt leader of New Salem is defeated, causing excess magical energy to go wild. Using Agatha's lessons of tapping into different magical sources, Wanda taps into the excess energy and channels it safely away. Before she finishes, she hears Agatha's spirit tell her to use the incredible magical power while she's still connected to it. Instinctively, Wanda uses it to make herself pregnant.[51] Months later, Wanda's old Brotherhood of Mutants teammate Toad attacks Leonia in order to take her as his bride. Seeing she is now eight months pregnant, he is repulsed and Wanda defeats him. Wanda later goes into labor and is attended by the physician and sorcerer Dr. Strange, who is surprised when she gives birth to twins. The boys are named Thomas (for Phineas Thomas Horton, the scientist who created the android Human Torch) and William (in reference to Wonder Man's real name, Simon Williams).[52] Eventually, the Vision and Scarlet Witch decide to relocate their family to Los Angeles, joining the new West Coast Avengers.[53]

Loss of marriage and children

Believing the Vision may have downloaded state secrets when he temporarily had international power and could do so again, various governments agree to a joint operation. Operatives kidnap and dismantle Vision, wiping out his personality.[54] Vision is then rebuilt, his red-colored skin now chalk-white. While his memories are mostly restored, he is now without emotions. Scarlet Witch hopes to restore his personality with Wonder Man's help, but he refuses due to his own secret feelings for Wanda and his uneasiness of choosing to create a copy of his emotions in someone else. Wanda seeks out help in restoring Vision's emotions but becomes corrupted by a parasitic life form called That Which Endures. Under its influence, Wanda turns against the Avengers. That Which Endures is then defeated and Wanda's mind restored.[20]

Agatha Harkness arrives (explaining that true witches have learned to protect themselves from burning and other methods non-witches have used to kill them) and reveals Thomas and William are not real but the result of Wanda suffering a "hysterical pregnancy" that influenced her magic and created constructs. Wanda's powers cannot create life, so the "souls" of the twins were drawn from scattered pieces of the demon lord Mephisto, whose power had been split into several pieces after a battle with the powerful Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue Richards of the Fantastic Four.[55] Mephisto arrives and re-absorbs the life of the children into himself, restoring his power and seemingly wiping them from existence. Realizing this has created a connection between him and the Scarlet Witch, Agatha temporarily removes Wanda's memories of her children, causing a mental shock to Mephisto that allows for his defeat.[19] It is later revealed Vision suspected the children were only magical projections and had attempted to discuss it with Wanda, but she refused to listen.[56]

Years later, the Young Avengers team is created, including Billy Kaplan in its ranks, a teenager called "Asgardian" and then later "Wiccan." After the team meets teenage hero Tommy Shepherd, who calls himself Speed, Billy correctly concludes he and Tommy are the reincarnated twins of Wanda and Vision. The story Avengers: The Children's Crusade describes the lost children William and Thomas as "lost souls" who were raised by Wanda and Vision, then "taken" by Mephisto, indicating the demon lord lied about their true nature in order to cause the Avengers pain. How Mephisto lost the two souls and allowed them to be reincarnated as children of two different families, both born years before Wanda and Vision's marriage, is not yet explained.[57]

Nexus being

Immediately after this, Wanda is brainwashed again, this time to become a "Bride of Set." She is freed from control but becomes catatonic, apparently as a result of trauma. Believing he can't help Wanda and isn't needed with the west coast team, Vision decides to return to the NYC-based Avengers team. Wonder Man offers the use of his brainwaves to restore Vision's emotions, but the android refuses, believing he is now a separate person from whom he was before and not wishing to accept a copy of someone else's identity. Days after Vision leaves, Wanda becomes responsive again, now with incredibly enhanced power and a personality that hates humans and delights in suffering. She attacks the Avengers, sexually assaults Wonder Man, and rejoins with Magneto (who himself recently has returned to his terrorist ways after spending some time working with the X-Men).[21] Investigating Wanda's change in personality and power level, Agatha Harkness discovers both changes are caused by the time villain Immortus.[24] Realizing Wanda is a nexus being, a person whose very existence affects probability and timelines, Immortus hopes to use this great power for himself. For years, he has manipulated Wanda's life, hoping (like Chthon in the past) to use her as his pawn so he can increase his power. As the Avengers battle Immortus, Agatha mentally reaches out to Wanda and reminds her of her love for her friends and family. Wanda gives up the nexus being energies inside her, making her useless to Immortus and restoring her mind in the process, as well as the memories of Thomas and William.[24] With Immortus defeated, Wanda, now seemingly completely powerless, returns to the Avengers.[24] With Vision still unable to feel or reciprocate love, he and Wanda have their marriage annulled. Soon afterward, Wonder Man makes his romantic feelings for Wanda clear, but she tells him she only sees him as a friend. This leads to resentment and tension from Simon for some time.

Weeks after freedom from Immortus's control, Wanda's hex power returns when she realizes she's needed to help Pietro. The power is now unreliable and operates on the same level Wanda had when she first joined the Brotherhood of Mutants.[58] To compensate for her lower power level, she studies magic again, seeking help from Agatha and Dr. Strange when faced with magical threats. While practicing honing her talents, Wanda accidentally creates a window that seems to show an alternate timeline where she, Vision, and their children remain together. Happy to see that somewhere in the multiverse her children are real and happy, and glad her memories of them returned after only a short time, Wanda believes she can cope with the losses she's suffered.[25] When Vision returns to Avengers West to help against the villain Ultron, Wanda hopes they might resume their romance. She is disheartened to see Vision still lacks emotion and regards himself as a different person than the one who married her.[59] Later, Wanda is nominated as leader of the Avengers West team.[60]

Force Works

The members of Avengers West are called to Avengers Mansion in NYC to discuss whether or not the team is a failed experiment, considering some of their defeats, the destruction of their headquarters, and the loss of different members. A vote results in Avengers West officially dissolving and its members designated as reservists of the main Avengers team. Rather than accept this status, Iron Man quits, prompting the other former members of Avengers West to follow suit.[61] In Ventura, California, Iron Man forms a new, more proactive team called Force Works and asks Wanda to be leader. The team suffers several setbacks, including the seeming death of Wonder Man during their first adventure.[62]

During "The Crossing" crossover,[63] Iron Man is corrupted by villains and turns against the Avengers. Working with the main Avengers team again, Wanda encounters Vision, who has regained his original appearance as well as the capacity for emotions. When he implies he misses her, she quickly tells him their relationship is in the past.[64] Wanda is unaware that not only has Vision regained his ability to feel but he also once again has all his emotional ties to the memories of his life before he was dismantled. Seeing how guarded she is and wishing to spare her more pain, Vision does not reveal this. At the end of "The Crossing," Iron Man seemingly dies and the Force Works team decides to disband soon afterward.[65] The Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye return to the main Avengers team, once again becoming teammates with Quicksilver and Vision.[66] To make amends for his behavior in the past, Quicksilver attempts to help Wanda reconcile with Vision so they can be friends again, knowing she feels nervous and awkward around him now.[67]

Wanda is with the Avengers and the Fantastic Four when the two teams fight the powerful villain Onslaught. During their final battle, Vision is seriously injured and asks for Wanda, asking her to hold him. She does so and soon both join the Fantastic Four and Avengers in a plan to destroy Onslaught by sacrificing themselves.[68] Due to the intervention of Franklin Richards, the Scarlet Witch and her teammates are not killed but transported to an alternate version of Earth where they live out new versions of their lives. In this reality, Wanda is a sorceress with no mutant abilities.[69] Later on, the heroes are returned to the mainstream Marvel Earth, only months after they vanished and were believed dead.[70] As a result of Franklin Richards subconsciously wishing to "fix" and restore the heroes he sent to the "Heroes Reborn" Earth, Iron Man is restored to life.

Chaos Magic

Now back home, the Avengers discuss reforming but are attacked by Morgan le Fay, who kidnaps Wanda. She uses the Scarlet Witch as a conduit for magical forces, enhancing her probability powers to such a degree that she is able to warp reality according to Morgan's wishes.[71][72] During this adventure, Wanda resurrects Wonder Man as an energy being by summoning his ionic energies back into a humanoid form. After the encounter with Morgan, the Scarlet Witch has an increase in power and realizes she can access magic used by others. Following the battle with Morgan, Wanda repeatedly checks on Vision, who takes weeks to recuperate from injuries he suffered. Vision, afraid to hurt Wanda again if they attempted to have a relationship again, insists that while he may have a personality again, he is still a different person than the one she married. Conflicted about her feelings for Vision and his seemingly cold and harsh attitude toward her, Wanda inadvertently summons Wonder Man again, who comforts her. Later on, she restores Wonder Man to physical form.

Wanda seeks help from Agatha Harkness about her increased power. Agatha explains Wanda's mutant genes allow her to directly access magical energies, explaining her ability to learn powerful sorcery so quickly.[73] By now channeling chaos magic, the same magic Chthon imbued her with soon after her birth, the Scarlet Witch becomes a powerful sorceress despite her lack of years of training. Agatha also points out that Wanda's own self-doubt and worry about living up to what she perceives as the expectations of others has held her back from realizing the full potential of this power and accessing real chaos magic before.[74] After these talks and a battle against the Grim Reaper, Wanda becomes a more formidable superhero, now considered one of the most powerful Avengers alongside heroes such as Thor and Carol Danvers. While she can't bend reality to her will and isn't a sorcerer supreme, it is later said that even those who have the Phoenix Force now have cause to fear her.[75] Following another battle, the temporary absence of Iron Man and Captain America leads the team to decide Wanda is the natural choice to assume the duties of Avengers deputy leader and she accepts.[76]

Wanda realizes she has been in denial of growing feelings for Wonder Man for some time and the two begin a relationship.[74] Later on, Wanda realizes Vision lied about still thinking of himself as a new person and has regained the full emotional connections to his memories before he was dismantled, including their relationship.[77] Sympathetic that Vision misses her, Wanda remains firm about leaving their relationship in the past and continuing her romance with Simon, adding that a reunion may have been possible earlier if her former husband hadn't chosen to lie and close himself off.[76] Later, she has a copy of her own brain patterns made and gifts it to Vision, suggesting that one day if he wishes he can create a friend or love interest who is similar to her and understands him but is not an exact copy of her, just as he and Wonder Man are similar but not exact copies of each other.[56] Months later, Wonder Man breaks up with Wanda.[78] Weeks afterward, Wanda and Vision discuss possibly resuming their relationship.[79]

Reality-warping era

Through circumstances not explained, Wanda once again loses the memories of her children's existence, as well as the memories of the years spent learning to coping with the loss afterward.[25] When she hears the Wasp reference the twins, Wanda's memories come flooding back, causing her to relive the trauma. It is later revealed in Avengers: The Children's Crusade that at this point, feeling betrayed that her teammates allowed her mind to be tampered with, the Scarlet Witch seeks out help from the sorcerer and scientist Doctor Doom's, hoping he can restore her children to life. To do so, they summon a mysterious and powerful cosmic force that merges with her and increases her power a hundredfold, leaving her emotionally broken, similar to what happened with Chthon, That Which Endures, and Immortus before.[80] Wanda becomes enraged at the Avengers for allowing her children to die and letting Agatha Harkness tamper with her memories, leading to the events of Avengers Disassembled.

After killing Agatha, Scarlet Witch secretly launches a campaign of terror against the Avengers, influencing minds and creating simulated enemies to attack them. As a result, the Vision is destroyed by a maddened She-Hulk, Hawkeye is killed while fighting a simulated Kree soldier, and Scott Lang is apparently killed in an explosion (it was later revealed that he survived, saved by Wanda's future self who teleported him to the future). With help from Earth's heroes, Doctor Strange defeats Wanda and she falls into a coma. Magneto arrives and then leaves with her. At this time, the general public learns of Wanda's actions.

Realizing the Avengers and the X-Men are seriously contemplating killing his sister due to her increased power and mental instability, Quicksilver convinces Scarlet Witch to use her powers to create a world where everyone has their heart's desire fulfilled, and where the two of them and Magneto rule over a world where mutants are not persecuted.[81] Although this "House of M" reality warp initially succeeds, several heroes (Hawkeye, Wolverine, and Layla Miller) regain their memories and join forces with others to restore reality. When Magneto discovers he is in a false reality and that Quicksilver is responsible, he murders the speedster. Wanda immediately resurrects her brother. Enraged she was not allowed to create a world where mutants were not persecuted by normal humans, she declares "No more mutants." Her power then causes "M-Day," with most of Earth's mutant population losing their X-gene and powers, including Magneto and Quicksilver (though each later has their powers restored). The event becomes known as "M-Day." Wanda then takes refuge in Transia, blocking her memory of her true identity.[82] Both Beast and a resurrected Hawkeye find her at different times in Transia, but depart after confirming she has no memory of her past.[83] Later, Doom finds her and takes her to Latveria, leaving behind a duplicate robot in Transia in case anyone else comes looking for Wanda.[84]

Return to The Avengers

The Children's Crusade

The teenage mystical hero Wiccan (Billy Kaplan) and his team, the Young Avengers, meet a teenage superhuman Speed. Speed, whose name is Tommy, looks like he could be Wiccan's twin, except that his hair is silver. Although he and Speed were born to different families and years before the Scarlet Witch's marriage to Vision, Wiccan concludes the two of them might somehow be reincarnations of Wanda's lost children Thomas and William. The Young Avengers, Magneto, Quicksilver, and the Avengers all try to locate Wanda, eventually finding her amnesiac in Latveria and engaged to Doctor Doom.[84] The gathered heroes learn the truth: after being accidentally reminded of her children's existence by Janet van Dyne, Wanda had sought out Doom in order to harness the mystical energy of "the Life Force" to resurrect her children, inadvertently increasing her power a hundredfold and decreasing her sense of morality, leading to her maddened state during Avengers Disassembled. According to Doom, although Wanda is no longer a nexus of reality, able to affect time and space, she is still inherently a nexus of magic, able to act as a conduit for different mystical forces.[57]

Wanda regains her memory and tries to commit suicide due to the guilt over her role in recent events, but Wiccan is able to reach her. Wanda seeks Doom's help in undoing the spell that erased mutant powers. Instead, Doom steals the reality-warping power for himself.[80] Wanda and Wiccan steal his newfound powers, defeating him. Before leaving, Doom, having truly grown to love Wanda and not wanting to see her punished, falsely claims Wanda would not have thought to attack the Avengers had he not manipulated her into doing so, taking credit for the events of Avengers Disassembled.[85]

Her power now restored to the level she had before Avengers Disassembled, Wanda decides to remain in solitude for a while, knowing many still hate her for her actions, particularly mutants, and believing she cannot blame it entirely on outside forces.[85]

Avengers vs. X-Men

During the events of Avengers vs. X-Men, Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman offer Wanda an official return to the Avengers team. Although she is initially reluctant, she follows them to Avengers Mansion. The Vision, now rebuilt and online again, angrily blames Wanda for manipulating and killing him. Despite some protest, most of the Avengers defer to the Vision as crying Wanda leaves. Though Vision feels sympathy, he stands firm that Wanda has not regained their trust yet.[86]

When the Avengers go to extract the young mutant Hope Summers from Utopia and are nearly defeated by a Phoenix Force-empowered Cyclops, Scarlet Witch arrives and saves them. Hope then leaves with Scarlet Witch.[75] After further battles involving the Avengers and X-Men, Hope inherits the Phoenix Force. She and Wanda then combine their powers to apparently drive away the Phoenix from earth by saying "No more Phoenix." This results in mutants across Earth regaining their powers, undoing Wanda's actions on M-Day.[87] Despite this, many mutants maintain a hatred and fear of Wanda for causing the event in the first place.[88]

Uncanny Avengers

Deciding the Avengers need to make more effort to show public cooperation between mutants and non-mutant superhumans, Captain America authorizes a new Avengers Unity Squad, composed of Avengers and X-Men.[89] He asks Wanda to join the team, giving her a chance to atone for the recent past and show others that redemption is possible.[90] Soon after Wanda joins, teammate Rogue is manipulated by the villainous Apocalypse Twins and kills Wanda.[91] This death is undone when the Unity Squad is projected back in time.

AXIS

After stealing Charles Xavier's mutant telepathy, the Nazi villain Red Skull mounts a new attack.[92] Wanda works with Doctor Strange to cast a moral inversion spell, hoping to draw out Xavier's essence in the Red Skull and put him in control of the body. This spell backfires when Doctor Doom takes Strange's place, resulting in the moral inversion of all heroes and villains in the vicinity, including Wanda.[93] When Quicksilver and Magneto try to reason with the now-villainous Wanda, she attacks them with a magic curse designed to punish her own bloodline. When only Quicksilver is affected, Wanda realizes Magneto is not their father.[94] Before she can pursue this further, Doom appears with the resurrected Brother Voodoo and the spirit of his dead brother Daniel. Daniel possesses Wanda, allowing her and Doom to undo the spell and restore the heroes' and villains' moralities to normal.[95]

With the Avengers Unity Squad, the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver later take a trip to Counter-Earth.[96] After being tracked down and defeated by Luminous (a superhuman woman created from the genetic material of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver), Wanda and Pietro are brought to the High Evolutionary. He claims Django and Marya Maximoff were their true parents, implying the twins actually are the lost Ana and Mateo. He also reveals that not only are Magneto and Magda not their parents, but they are not mutants and have no X-gene. He explains their superhuman traits are the result of him experimenting on them as children, then abandoning them to the Maximoffs when he was unsatisfied with the results.[35] After the High Evolutionary is defeated, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver return to Earth with the Avengers Unity Division. Seeing she is upset over recent events and revelations, Vision reaches out to Wanda with compassion rather than judgment, the beginning of a new friendship.[97]

All-New, All-Different Marvel: Scarlet Witch (2016–2017)

Leaving the Avengers so she can reassert her sense of self, Wanda becomes a troubleshooter specializing in magical threats, aided by the ghost of Agatha Harkness. Agatha confirms she has known all along Wanda wasn't a mutant or the child of Magneto, but chose not to say anything lest she influence the Scarlet Witch down the wrong path and disrupt her fate. During her adventures, Wanda quickly concludes some force or hidden enemy is disrupting magic all over Earth. During her initial adventures, she fights Declan Dane, the Emerald Warlock, who decides he will now be Wanda's arch-enemy.[98]

While exploring the Witch's Road, a dimensional path existing outside normal space and time, Wanda meets Natalya Maximoff, another woman who calls herself the Scarlet Witch and a friend of Agatha. Wanda realizes this is her mother's spirit, and that Natalya is visiting the Witch's Road in the past, at a point in time before she is pregnant. After helping each other, Natalya realizes who Wanda must be just as she returns to her time period.[99]

When the second superhero Civil War begins, Pietro asks Wanda for help but she refuses. She also says she resents Pietro still trying to tell her what to do as though she were a lost child, bluntly telling him that she has grown whereas his refusal to learn from his past mistakes marks him as a sociopath in her eyes. She invites Pietro to join her quest to learn more about Natalya Maximoff but he refuses.[100]

Wanda's search for answers leads her to Serbia and the priest who gave up her and Pietro to the High Evolutionary.[101] Finding her aunt and adopted mother Marya still alive, Wanda finally learns the truth about her mother and her biological relationship to Django and Marya.[37] Wanda finally discovers a demonic manifestation of chaos is responsible for disrupting and attempting to destroy witchcraft. Wanda joins forces with the spirits of Natalya and Agatha, and together the three witches weaken the chaos entity long enough for Quicksilver (whom Natalya summons) to destroy it. Wanda and Pietro reconcile. To save magic, Natalya sacrifices her spirit, knowing this means she will no longer be able to communicate with Wanda or even maintain her own identity as a ghost. Before she vanishes, Natalya reveals it was not the High Evolutionary who killed her when she attempted to rescue her children. She was killed by Wanda and Pietro's father. But she vanishes before she can reveal the identity of this man.[102] After seeing her mother's sacrifice, and now having a stronger sense of her past and identity, Wanda re-dedicates herself to being a superhero and an Avenger.

Later, during the "Last Days of Magic" arc, Scarlet Witch helps Doctor Strange defeat the Empirikul, a science cult focused on destroying magic in every dimension.[103]

Secret Empire

An alternate version of Captain America is created, one loyal to the terrorist organization Hydra. Taking the place of the real Steve Rogers, this "Hydra Cap" eventually attempts to take control over the United States in the Secret Empire crossover. Wanda initially joins the fight to stop Hydra, but the gathered heroes fail. Afterward, Wanda is brainwashed into serving Hydra's version of the Avengers.[104] Later, it is revealed Chthon has taken advantage of the situation to once again possess the Scarlet Witch, causing mental instability.[105] During a later battle, Doctor Strange works to free Wanda from Chthon's control again. The true Captain America later returns and the events of the Secret Empire crossover are undone.[106]

Dawn of X

Magneto, Charles Xavier, and many of their mutant allies and enemies decide to create a sovereign nation state for mutants on the living island Krakoa. In this new mutant nation, Wanda is considered an enemy of the state of Krakoa for the events of M-Day, ranked as second on the list of most dangerous enemies to mutantkind, since the removal of the X-gene resulted in 986,420 deaths (the top enemy, Bolivar Trask, created the mutant-hunting Sentinel robots responsible for 16,521,618 deaths and counting). Magneto's former follower, Exodus, has called Wanda "the Great Pretender", in connection to the revelation that she is neither Magneto's daughter or a mutant at all, and encouraged mutant children to hate her by imparting around campfires stories of her and how she took away mutant powers on M-Day.[88]

Empyre

During the "Empyre" storyline, flashbacks reveal that, against the advice of Doctor Strange, Wanda tried to atone for her past sins and mistakes by addressing the genocide of 16 million mutants on the island Genosha committed years earlier at the hands of Cassandra Nova. She spends a year gathering arcane artifacts to redeem herself, unaware the nation of Krakoa had already established resurrection protocols to bring back dead mutants and prevent further deaths. Her attempt to resurrect the millions of Genoshan mutants goes awry, instead causing the mutants to return as undead, zombie-like creatures.[107] Wanda sought help from Doctor Strange, who gave her aid while also holding her accountable. Doctor Strange is able to counter Wanda's spell but informs her that it will take roughly 30 days for her spell to wear off, so he creates a barrier around Genosha to prevent any undead from leaving. However the barrier did not stop the living from entering the island though. Around this time a group of Cotati aliens had set up base on Genosha as part of an attempted invasion of Wakanda, leading them to being attacked by the undead. A team of X-Men is sent to investigate as the Gateways on Krakoa were being affected, and are soon overwhelmed by both aliens and undead until the spell wears off. After the Genoshan undead turn to dust, the X-Men leave, unaware that these events had been caused by the Scarlet Witch.[108]

Since then, Wanda has continued to work with the Avengers and recently worked with a team of heroes that fought Cotati agents in the Arctic jungle known as the Savage Land.[109]

Hellfire Gala

Even though they are not related by blood, Magneto still believes there is a bond between himself and Wanda Maximoff and invites her to the first annual Hellfire Gala. Still ashamed of her actions against the mutant population via M-Day, Wanda declines and only agrees to see Magneto in private. After he promises to help alleviate the tension between herself and the mutant nation of Krakoa, they share a dance.[110]

Soon afterwards, Wanda is seemingly found dead by her son Speed.[111] Wanda's hands were bound with something metallic and an autopsy reveals the cause of death is strangulation by means of supernatural magnetization, facts which lead to Magneto being a prime suspect. Later, Wanda is revealed to exist in a state between life and death, now dressed in a white version of her costume. After she is attacked by a hooded figure, her blood turned her entire costume red and red flowers emerge from her wound.[112]

Powers and abilities

Writer Steve Englehart first associated the Scarlet Witch's powers with witchcraft.

When the Scarlet Witch was first created by Lee and Kirby, her main ability was a vaguely defined "hex power" that could cause random and unlikely things to affect her enemies or other targets, often in the form of "bad luck." These effects could be unpredictable, however, and thus not always helpful to Wanda. The vague and unpredictable nature of her power meant Wanda could use her ability in a variety of ways that helped the plot but also meant she couldn't easily solve all her problems.

Despite the character's name, the Scarlet Witch's powers stemmed not from witchcraft or magic but from being a mutant who could affect probability. Later stories gave her increased control, allowing her to release targeted "hex-bolts" that could cause enemy weapons to backfire, their abilities to fail, or the area around them to suffer sudden damage and instability. Eventually, she also became adept at casting energy blasts that could directly stun opponents. She later realized her hex-bolts were the most basic use of chaos magic.[76]

Writer Steve Englehart decided the character could become more powerful and formidable by living up to her name. His stories revealed Wanda had a strong talent for magic, possibly caused by the demon Chthon giving her latent magical talent as a child. Under Englehart, Wanda studies spell casting and the manipulation of magical forces under the tutelage of Agatha Harkness. Along with increasing her control over the effects of her hexes, this allows her to counter, deflect, and block a variety of magical attacks.

Writer Kurt Busiek redefined Scarlet Witch's powers, explaining that like Magneto her mutant ability allowed her to tap into and manipulate a specific form of energy. Busiek suggested Wanda may have originally developed the power to access energy related to the electro-magnetic spectrum if she'd been left alone, but Chthon's interference soon after her birth influenced her genetics to tap into magical energy. Busiek depicted the sorceress Morgan le Fey remarking that while Wanda cannot fully warp time and space on her own (not since giving up her nexus being status), her ability to alter probability coupled with her magical talent meant others could use her as a conduit for multiple, powerful energies at once, and thus she could become a tool used to warp reality. Following her encounter with Morgan, Wanda learned her hex abilities were an expression of chaos magic, the same magic Chthon used.[73] By trusting in herself more, Wanda learned how to directly tap into chaos magic to increase her power and achieve a variety of effects, making her one of Earth's most powerful magic-users.[74] She also realized she could manipulate other forms of energy (though this required greater focus and strength).[113] During Busiek's run, as well as the subsequent run by Geoff Johns, she was shown to be capable of large-scale spells given enough concentration and time to shape them to a specific goal, including the creation of a hurricane. Wanda's new chaos magic allowed her to collect Wonder Man's near-immortal ionic energies and reconstitute them, allowing him temporary existence as an energy being and then eventually bringing him back to life as a physical being (although Wanda has been unable to resurrect normal human beings who are not energy-based life forms).[113] The series Avengers vs X-Men confirmed Wanda now largely relies on chaos magic.

A 2015 Uncanny Avengers story revealed Wanda was never a mutant, despite the assumption of others and what certain scientific tests indicated. Her and Quicksilver's superhuman traits, the genes that allowed her to directly access magical energy sources, were the result of the High Evolutionary experimenting on them as infants. This is in line with Busiek's explanation for her powers, with only the classification of "mutant" being changed.

In the 2016–2017 Scarlet Witch comic series, it is confirmed Wanda was always born with the ability to utilize witchcraft, a trait she inherited from other members of her family. The High Evolutionary's genetic tampering gave greater and direct access to magical energies, making her more powerful than she may have been otherwise, but was not solely responsible for her magical abilities.

Reality warping

On multiple occasions, Wanda has temporarily had the power to shift and alter reality. Each of these times were later credited to another person or outside force temporarily granting her extra power.

When she was temporarily linked to magical energies around the town of New Salem, a magic-user community, Wanda seemingly used that energy to make herself pregnant. Later on, during John Byrne's Avengers West Coast stories, Wanda was said to be able to create lifelike illusions if her desire to do so was great enough. She later becomes powerful enough to hold multiple Avengers paralyzed through force of will. Writers Roy and Dann Thomas revealed this power increase and the ability to cast illusions were all due to Wanda's status as a nexus being, someone who has great influence over the reality around her and acts as an anchor point between timelines.[21] The villain Immortus manipulated Wanda, causing a change of personality and drawing out her nexus energies in order to increase her overall power. Rather than be used as a tool by Immortus, Wanda completely released her nexus energies, giving up her ability to influence reality more than others.[21] This restored her mind and the memories of her lost children, but also resulted in a temporary loss of her hex power. They returned weeks later, though weaker and unreliable. Wanda needed time and training to regain her previous power levels.

When the sorceress Morgan le Fey used Wanda as a conduit for different magical energy sources, this amplified Wanda's abilities.[71] Morgan le Fey then used her to warp time and space, altering Earth to a more medieval setting and convincing the Avengers to act as her loyal servants and soldiers.[71] When the adventure was over, Wanda's ability to warp time and minds vanished, but she now had a stronger ability to access magical energies on her own.[73]

Writer Brian Michael Bendis retconned Wanda's abilities in Avengers Disassembled. The story stated chaos magic did not exist (in contradiction to previous Marvel stories with Dr. Strange) and was not an energy source used to achieve greater power. Bendis wrote that Wanda's true mutant power was to warp reality itself, as well as influence minds. In House of M, this new power was enough to change history through force of will, creating a new timeline. The later mini-series Avengers: The Children's Crusade restored Wanda's power to what it was before Avengers Disassembled, again defining her as someone whose genes allow her to directly tap into magical fields, including chaos magic. Her actions during Avengers Disassembled and House of M were explained as a temporary power increase due to a magical entity that bonded with her, similar to her earlier possessions by Chthon and Immortus, and her time as a tool of Morgan le Fey.[114]

Reception

Though later incarnations took on feminist overtones, the character of Scarlet Witch was not conceived with ideas of female empowerment in mind. At her debut in the 1960s, the readership for superhero comics was assumed to be mostly male, and the Scarlet Witch was originally seen by some fans and Marvel creators as a token female character with a passive power, used mainly for interpersonal relation plots, perhaps to draw female readers who were believed to prefer romance comics.[115] Avengers writer Roy Thomas even created a group of female superheroes, the Lady Liberators, in order to mock Second-wave feminism. The team is formed by Amora the Enchantress who uses her magic to influence the women members of the Avengers into turning against their male teammates. Wanda realizes the truth and resists Amora's spell, then defeats her single-handedly. The story's last scene depicts Hank Pym warning that "women's lib" is a ridiculous cause, but Wanda answers back that if sexism continues then the Lady Liberators may rise again. Despite the story mocking feminism, this final scene is now considered an early example of Wanda being a positive feminist character.[116]

In the 1970s, writer Steve Englehart preferred to make Wanda a more assertive and proactive character who pursued her personal goals and desires. In the 1980s, the first and second The Vision and the Scarlet Witch limited series both underlined Wanda as a woman who appreciated her time with the Avengers but also wanted to have her own life and agenda independent of the team, purchasing a house with Vision so they could have a relationship and even a family that was entirely their own. Englehart, who enjoyed the marriage of Wanda and Vision and created their children Thomas and William, lamented that later stories annulled the marriage, ended the relationship, removed the children, and repeatedly put Wanda in positions where she became temporarily evil due to emotional trauma and the manipulations of others.[22]

Don Markstein's Toonpedia asserted: "The Scarlet Witch is unique among superheroes, and not just because she's the only one who wears a wimple. Her super power is unlike any other—she can alter probability so as to cause mishaps for her foes."[117]

The Scarlet Witch was the second-highest-ranked female character (at #12) on IGN's list of "The Top 50 Avengers",[118] and was ranked 97th in Wizard's "200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time" list.[119] She was #14 on Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[120]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

Age of Apocalypse was a comic book event where reality was altered by time travel, causing the death of X-Men founder Charles Xavier ten years before the formation of the X-Men. This causes a domino effect that leads to the mutant Apocalypse devastating much of the world and ruling the United States' remnants while Magneto leads a rebel force that he named the X-Men in honor of his dead friend. In this reality, Magneto finds Wanda and Pietro years earlier and concludes they are his children, allowing him the chance to raise them for part of their lives. Years later, the two are among his first X-Men recruits. While the team is based on Wundagore Mountain in Transia, Wanda welcomes new recruit Rogue. However, the team is attacked by Apocalypse and his troops and Wanda dies fighting Apocalypse's son Nemesis. As a last request, she asks Rogue to stay close to her father and protect him. Rogue takes the request seriously, eventually entering a romantic relationship with Magneto.[121]

In the tie-in comic Uncanny X-Force, Jean Grey has Wanda cloned and animates her to replicate the events of "House of M". However, the spell only affects Grey and Sabretooth.[122]

Heroes Reborn (1996)

Following the defeat of the entity Onslaught, Wanda lived a new version of her life in an alternate reality depicted in the 1996 Heroes Reborn miniseries. In this reality, there is no evidence mutants exist and Wanda is a human sorcerer raised by Agatha Harkness, who trains her in magic. The former goes on to become a founding member of the Avengers, with Agatha remaining close by.[123]

Heroes Reborn (2021)

In an alternate reality depicted in the 2021 Heroes Reborn miniseries, the Scarlet Witch became the Speedster Supreme, "Silver Witch", after Quicksilver was killed in battle against the Squadron Supreme of America, which caused her chaos magic to absorb her brother's powers. She would later go on to join the Masters of Doom and race the Blur, only to be defeated by him and remanded to Ravencroft Asylum.[124][125]

Infinity Wars

During the events of the miniseries Infinity Wars, the universe is folded in half, which results in the Scarlet Witch being fused with X-23 to create Laura, aka "Weapon Hex". In this reality, she was created by the Evolutionaries, a group who sought to use science and sorcery to experiment on mutants and create a vessel for the demon Mephicton (a fusion of Mephisto and Chthon) after several failures and the deaths of many mutants, Sarah Kinney and Herbert Wyndham conceive a flawed child, Laura, to serve as the vessel. While raising Laura, Kinney taught her empathy and humanity while Wyndham wanted his daughter to become a weapon. After turning 17, Laura and Hellhound (a fusion of Magik and Sabretooth) are sent on missions for the Evolutionaries. Following her mother's death, Laura discovers she has a younger sister named Gavrill (a fusion of Quicksilver and Honey Badger) and tries to escape, only to be killed by Hellhound while Wyndham uses Gavrill as the Evolutionaries' vessel. However, Laura heals and kills Wyndham and Hellhound before leaving with Gavrill.[126]

Marvel 1602

In Marvel 1602, the Marvel timeline is reset so that many superheroes and villains emerge during the early 17th century. In this version of events, mutants exist, but are known as "witchbreed". Wanda and her brother Petros are both followers of Enrique, who hides his true power and acts as the High Inquisitor of the Spanish Catholic Church.[127]

Marvel Noir

In the limited series X-Men Noir, Wanda Magnus is a wealthy socialite during the 1930s and the daughter of Chief of Detectives Eric Magnus.[128]

Marvel Zombies

In the Marvel Zombies miniseries, an alternate universe version of Scarlet Witch helps Ash Williams find the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. However, Wanda is eventually attacked and infected by zombified vigilante, the Punisher.[129] Her zombie form appears in Marvel Zombies 3, working with the Kingpin and using the Vision to block enemy radio signals as necessary. She and the other zombies are later confronted by Machine Man and Jocasta, who save the Vision and kill the zombie Kingpin and Scarlet Witch.[130]

MC2

An older version of Scarlet Witch appears in a possible future reality depicted in the MC2 imprint series, A-Next. She was placed in a coma following the original Avengers' final battle.[131] However, Loki captures, revives, and brainwashes her as part of his plan to corrupt various heroes and make them punish the Avengers. Despite this, she eventually regains her mind.[132]

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel imprint title Ultimates, the cynical and violent Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver are raised by Magneto and recruited to be soldiers in his Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy. In secret, the twins share an incestuous relationship before eventually leaving the Brotherhood to join the superhero team, the Ultimates, in exchange for the imprisoned Brotherhood members' release.

In the series Ultimates 3, Doctor Doom arranges the assassination of the Scarlet Witch via Ultron.[133]

The Ultimate version of Wanda cannot cast hexes until she first calculates the mathematical probability of the effects she wishes to create; the more complex the effect, the more complex the math.[134]

In other media

Television

Scarlet Witch as she appears in Wolverine and the X-Men.

Film

Marvel licensed the filming rights of the X-Men and related concepts, such as mutants, to 21st Century Fox, who created a film series based on the franchise. Years later, Marvel started their own film franchise, known as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which focused on characters that they had not licensed to other studios. The main core of this franchise are the Avengers, both in standalone films and the group's successful self-titled film. The rights to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch were at the time disputed by both studios. As they both held the rights to the characters, with Fox citing the characters' mutant status and being children of Magneto and Marvel citing the twins' editorial history being more closely tied to the Avengers rather than the X-Men, the studios made an agreement wherein both of them could use the characters on the condition that the plots did not make reference to the other studio's properties (i.e. the Fox films could not mention the twins as members of the Avengers while the Marvel films could not mention them as mutants or children of Magneto).[145] The arrangement became moot following the acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney – the parent company of Marvel Studios, and the confirmation that future X-Men films will take place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe.[146]

The 2014 live-action Fox film X-Men: Days of Future Past briefly shows Quicksilver sitting with a small girl who is years younger than him. A deleted scene implies that this girl is his sister and references another unseen sibling. Director Bryan Singer denied the girl seen in the film is Wanda, saying she is a nameless little sister character who was created to be a nod for comic book fans. Additionally, the film has Quicksilver remark that his father has magnetic abilities, but does not confirm that this is Magneto or clarify whether Quicksilver's other siblings share the same father.[147] In the sequel film X-Men: Apocalypse, Quicksilver is confirmed to be Magneto's son and has a half-sister, Nina, who Magneto raised in Europe.[148]

Marvel Cinematic Universe

Elizabeth Olsen portrays Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch in live-action media set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The "Scarlet Witch" codename was not used in her initial film appearances except for the closing credits, though both the codename and her comic book costume were later used in the television series WandaVision following Disney's acquisition of Fox. Both Olsen and Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who portrays Pietro Maximoff in the MCU, signed multi-picture deals.[149] The MCU versions of the Maximoffs were born in 1989 in the fictional Eastern European country of Sokovia to Oleg and Iryna Maximoff. However, they were orphaned at a young age when their neighborhood was attacked by bombers using Stark Industries weaponry. The twins would later go on to join Hydra and seek revenge against Tony Stark.

In the films, Wanda's primary powers are telekinesis and telepathy. She and Pietro gained their powers due to Hydra conducting experiments on them with the Mind Stone. In WandaVision, Wanda learns she was born a potential witch with the ability to occasionally cast hexes without realizing it. Her exposure to the Mind Stone greatly enhanced her inherent gift for wielding magic, which eventually led to her being capable of harnessing chaos magic.

  • Along with Pietro, Wanda first appeared in a mid-credits scene of the 2014 film, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as a test subject of Baron Strucker's.[150]
  • The Maximoffs became supporting characters in the 2015 film Avengers: Age of Ultron, where they conspire with Hydra, and later Ultron, against the Avengers before joining forces with the heroes after learning Ultron planned to exterminate humanity by destroying Sokovia.[151][152] Pietro is killed saving Hawkeye while Wanda joins the Avengers under Captain America's leadership.
  • Wanda returns in the 2016 film, Captain America: Civil War,[153] during which she begins to develop a relationship with Vision, sides with Captain America after the Avengers break up due to the Sokovia Accords, and is temporarily imprisoned in the Raft until Captain America frees her.
  • Wanda returns in the 2018 film, Avengers: Infinity War and its 2019 sequel, Avengers: Endgame, having gone on the run to fully pursue a relationship with Vision before losing him to Thanos and becoming a victim of the Blip. Five years later, the Avengers bring everyone who was "blipped" back to life and defeat an alternate timeline version of Thanos.
  • In September 2018, it was reported that Marvel Studios was developing several limited series for Disney's streaming service, Disney+, to be centered on "second tier" characters from the MCU films who had not and were unlikely to star in their own films; such as Wanda Maximoff, with Elizabeth Olsen expected to reprise her role at the time.[154] The title of this show was later announced in the same year as WandaVision. The show co-stars Paul Bettany reprising his role as Vision[155][156] and premiered on January 15, 2021.[157] Over the course of the series, Wanda comes to terms with Vision's death, discovers her powers are magic-based, and eventually goes on to become the Scarlet Witch before going into hiding to better understand her powers.
  • Wanda will appear in the upcoming film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.[158][159]

Video games

Other

The Scarlet Witch appears in a Got Milk? TV spot in 1999 alongside the Avengers.[174]

Collected editions

The Scarlet Witch's solo appearances have been collected in a number of trade paperbacks:

Title Material collected Publication date Creative Team ISBN
Vol 1: Witches' Road Scarlet Witch #1–5 July 2016 James Robinson (writer) 978-0785196822
Vol 2: World of Witchcraft Scarlet Witch #6-10 January 2017 978-0785196839
Vol 3: The Final Hex Scarlet Witch #11-15 May 2017 978-1302902667

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Bibliography

External links

Original content from Wikipedia, shared with licence Creative Commons By-Sa - Scarlet Witch