Vision: [straining] “If you do this, they will never stop being afraid of you.”
Scarlet Witch: “I can’t control their fear. Only my own.” – Captain America: Civil War
A pair of thugs chase a mutant child into an alley. They spot the freak and decide to teach it a lesson. One of the thugs raises a tire iron that starts glowing red. He drops the iron on his foot and hops back before slipping on a banana peel. He hits a brick wall and falls unconscious.
The second thug points a gun at the child, but it explodes. The blast knocks him onto his back and dislodges a fire escape ladder. The ladder brackets the thug’s neck, barely leaving him room to breathe. The child looks around and sees a red-clad woman at the alley’s entrance. The Scarlet Witch smiles and offers the frightened child a hand.
The Scarlet Witch is a divisive character. She’s been an Avenger, a Defender, and part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She’s saved the world on countless occasions, but once committed genocide. So who is she? What are her powers? Why did she commit genocide? Let’s find out.
Brotherhood to Avengers: Scarlet Witch’s Backstory
[Magneto has just claimed to be the father of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver]
Scarlet Witch: “Have you never noticed, Pietro, h-how like yourself Magneto looks?”
Magneto: “And how like your mother, Magda, you have grown, my lovely Wanda.” – The Vision and Scarlet Witch #4
The Scarlet Witch first appeared in X-Men #4 in 1964. She was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Originally envisioned as the daughter of Golden Age heroes Whizzer and Miss America, it was later revealed that she is Magneto’s daughter.
Magneto’s wife Magda fled from her husband following a slaughter he led. She was discovered by a villain called the High Evolutionary and gave birth to fraternal twins Wanda and Pietro. The High Evolutionary experimented on the children and brought them to a Romani family named Maximoff for safekeeping.
The twins led normal lives until their powers manifested. Wanda gained the power to alter probability, which superstitious villagers mistook for witchcraft. They declared Wanda a “scarlet witch” and tried to execute her. Luckily, Magneto arrived to recruit the twins for his Brotherhood of Evil Mutants team and rescued her. The newly named Scarlet Witch agreed to join the team to pay off her life debt.
The Scarlet Witch despised the Brotherhood but felt indebted to the team. Wanda declared the debt paid when Magneto left her brother Quicksilver to die during a fight with the X-Men. Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver joined the Avengers, seeking redemption for their crimes.
Decimation: Scarlet Witch’s History
Scarlet Witch: (casting a spell) “No more Mutants.” – X-Men: House of M
Scarlet Witch married Vision, an Avenger teammate. The newlyweds somehow had children despite Vision being an android. It was soon revealed that Scarlet Witch had created the children magically, but had accidentally tapped into the demon Mephisto’s power to do so. Mephisto took his power back, erasing the children in the process. Another hero removed Scarlet Witch’s memories of her children.
Years later, The Scarlet Witch was reminded of her children and attempted to resurrect them. She was possessed by a cosmic entity and attacked the Avengers, killing Vision and Hawkeye. The possession and reclaimed memories triggered a mental breakdown in Scarlet Witch.
The Avengers and the X-Men realized her power has grown to reality warping levels and discussed euthanasia. A desperate Quicksilver kidnapped his mentally incapacitated sister and manipulated her into rewriting history to make Mutants the dominant species. Quite a pair, these two chuckleheads.
The heroes eventually figured out what happened and tried to convince Wanda to return things to normal. An enraged Magneto kills his son for perverting his dream, enraging Scarlet Witch. With the infamous words “no more mutants”, she returns the world to normal and de-powers 99% of the mutant race. Scarlet Witch then goes into seclusion to regain control of herself.
Crimson Caster: Scarlet Witch’s Powers and Personality
Ultron: [heavily damaged] “Wanda…if you stay here, you’ll die.”
Wanda: “I just did. Do you know how it felt?”
[she rips out his metal heart]
Wanda: “It felt like that.” – Avengers: Age of Ultron
Scarlet Witch’s main power comes from Hex-Bolts, energy blasts that alter probability. She also uses chaos magic to accomplish things that probability can’t explain. Both of these abilities are the result of early stories featuring Scarlet Witch’s Hex-bolts doing just about anything.
Her powers fluctuate between useless and reality warping and everything in between. That’s the price of chaos based magic, I guess.
Scarlet Witch has a strong sense of justice and an honorable personality. Her mental breakdown and subsequent genocide almost drove her to suicide, but she got better with a little help from her friends in the Avengers.
The Actors Who Play The Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch first appeared in The Marvel Super Heroes, voiced by Peg Dixon. Character actors Katherine Moffat and Jennifer Darling voiced her in 1994’s Iron Man. Scarlet Witch next appeared in The Avengers: United They Stand with Stavroula Logothettis voicing the character. Voice actress Tara Strong voiced her in the Superhero Squad Show.
Scarlet Witch was also voiced by character actor Susan Roman in 1992’s X-Men. A Gothic version of the character was voiced by Kelly Sheridan. Finally, musician and voice actress Kate Higgins voiced the Scarlet Witch in Wolverine and the X-Men.
Fox obtained the X-Men’s film rights in the 1990’s, but has not used the Scarlet Witch despite making 10 X-Men movies over 17 years. Marvel Studios struck a deal to use Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver in the Avengers series as long as they didn’t call the twins mutants or mention Magneto.
Elizabeth Olsen took up the mantle of the Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She reprised her role in Captain America: Civil War and is scheduled to appear in Avengers: Infinity War.
Didya get all that?
A screwed-up superheroic sorceress.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.