In a medium the place long-lasting superhero characters have rollercoaster ups and downs over their careers, it’s a uncommon few which have had some downs fairly like the Scarlet Witch. Even ascendant as a part of the vanguard within the Marvel movieverse’s fourth part, her newest look in Physician Unusual within the Multiverse of Insanity disappointingly proves that similar to within the comics, placing Wanda on the alter of insanity is a trope her creatives simply can’t appear to need to keep away from.
The shock “twist” of Physician Unusual within the Multiverse of Insanity—in a lot as one can actually have a twist 20 minutes right into a film that runs for one more two hours past that—is that Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff isn’t the avenging ally Stephen Unusual thinks he’s getting when America Chavez multiversally lands on his proverbial doorstep. As a substitute, Wanda could be very a lot the villain of the piece, corrupted by each the usage of the darkish magics of the Darkhold and by her personal psychological trauma, anguished by the lack of the sons she had conjured up for herself within the city of Westview, New Jersey—merchandise themselves created by Wanda’s additional grief over the lack of the person she liked, the synthezoid Imaginative and prescient.
Suffice to say, the response to her place because the MCU’s newest villain has been… combined, to say the least. After WandaVision offered her grief as each damaging and but considerably comprehensible—in a lot as one can perceive a reality-warping sorceress dominating a complete city of individuals in opposition to their will so she will be able to play ‘50s housewife—Multiverse of Insanity catapults Wanda right into a horrifying villainous established order, an informal assassin and unrelenting, unstoppable pressure that’s prepared to do something for the possibility to get her youngsters again. The insanity of the film’s title is much less concerning the cross-reality roadtrip Physician Unusual and his allies take to try to cease her, however Wanda herself, pushed to this unknown, horrible place, ever-framed as an unhinged and demented evil till the time comes for her to comprehend the scope of what she’s achieved in her insanity, and be punished for it with self-sacrifice relatively than rehabilitation.
Taking one of the most powerful, prominent, and most beloved female figures in the MCU around at this point and making her turn heel irks, especially in the wake of a (not entirely spotless) attempt at a more demure spin on Wanda’s grief in WandaVision. But it’s not just because she’s a fallen hero who’s given the tropey “female hero can’t handle power, goes mad in the process” storyline, but because it’s a trope that has defined and influenced the Scarlet Witch for years, well before she first got adapted into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. “Well, first off, it’s true to who the comics’ version of the character is and what she does in the comics,” Multiverse of Insanity and Loki author Michael Waldron stated of the choice to make Wanda the film’s large unhealthy in an interview with Rolling Stone this week. “It was all the time the place Wanda was headed within the MCU, at the same time as I inherited the film. The query simply grew to become, when would it not occur?”
That obvious inevitability Waldron believes—that Wanda Maximoff merely should develop into this corrupted, maddened evil—is a shadow that’s chased the character throughout many years of her comics historical past, and has now likewise been introduced into the MCU. From the times of her enthrallment below Cthon and the Darkhold’s powers at Mount Wundagore (which Multiverse of Insanity itself attracts on) within the pages of Avengers #187, all the best way as much as the notorious “No Extra Mutants” of Home of M—and that complicated mutant legacy that lingered past, now solely only in the near past starting to heal within the pages of Trial of Magneto—time and time once more Wanda’s story has turned to a darkish energy inside her, or in her attain, that transforms her not simply into one thing villainous, however a lady pushed to madness by her lack of ability to manage it. And, most of the time, this has are available in tandem with forcing the character to confront the trauma of shedding her youngsters Billy and Tommy, and her husband the Imaginative and prescient.
We first actually see this in “Darker than Scarlet,” within the pages of 1990’s West Coast Avengers #56, when Wanda, corrupted right into a villainous model of herself by her father Magneto, lashes out at her former allies in vegeance for the lack of her household—it’s telling that the difficulty opens with the captured Agatha Harkness, U.S. Agent, Wasp, and Surprise Man all reflecting on Wanda having gone insane along with her grief, and much more in order that that is the story the place we first be taught that Wanda’s hex powers don’t alter likelihood, however warp actuality itself. Time and time once more, the connection between the scope of Wanda’s superpower and her obvious lack of willpower to manage it’s made all through the bottom factors of her life within the comics, pressured perpetually to re-confront the trauma of shedding Billy and Tommy. It infamously occurs many years later in 2004’s Avengers Disassembled, with Agatha Harkness’ equally notorious method of holding Wanda docile—erasing her reminiscence of her youngsters—breaks down, and Wanda seemingly, merely, can’t assist however mentally unravel and switch to evil as soon as extra.
After which, after all, there’s probably the most well-known of all, Home of M only a 12 months later, when Wanda rouses in response to the gathered X-Males and Avengers searching for to cease her damaging madness, and warps all of actuality to create an idealized world the place she all the time had her youngsters by her aspect. Though outwardly right here Wanda is performing much less on a villainous impulse than she is an awesome plot gadget, Home of M nonetheless concludes with considered one of her most horrifying acts within the comics, the almost-extermination of the mutant race when she de-powers all however roughly 200 of the species—a darkness that has solely actually simply begun to be addressed within the present Krakoan period of X-comics. And even then, Wanda (who, due to cinematic-ambition-induced retcons, is now not a mutant today) had up till Trial of Magneto been seen as a metaphysical boogeywoman for the resurgent mutantkind, the “Nice Pretender” who tried to put their species low.
Energy and Wanda’s obvious capability for evil have gone hand in hand throughout generations of tales for the character, lowering one of the distinguished feminine Avengers of the staff’s whole existence time and time once more to a deranged being to be confronted and managed, out of worry that her powers will hurt greater than assist. And now, with Multiverse of Insanity, the MCU has turned to that very same properly with its personal model of Wanda Maximoff. However did it actually need to? Did it have to when WandaVision earlier than it, in participating with that concept itself, managed to current a Scarlet Witch that was, on the very least, extra understandably sympathetic as a substitute of the bloodthirsty villain we’re confronted with in Multiverse of Insanity?
Time will inform simply how the MCU seems upon the Scarlet Witch going ahead—even when Multiverse of Insanity ends her arc with a seeming sacrifice, loss of life (obvious or in any other case) is never everlasting on the earth of superhero movies. However whether or not the MCU tries to push Wanda on a rehabilitative path, a query will all the time linger for followers of her as a personality: does it actually all the time should be this manner?
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