The Marvel Cinematic Universe has gifted us with many amazing characters over the last 14 years. While some of them have been relatively forgettable, more than a few will forever be iconic in Hollywood. Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man is a treat and one of the most remarkable characters to come out of super-hero cinema, Chris Evans’ Captain America inspires and boasts of having some of the better movies in the MCU, and there’s Chris Hemsworth’s Thor who went from spoiled son of Odin to be one the funniest and most beloved Avengers. The “trinity,” as they are called, often steals the spotlight, but there are some truly amazing characters that support them; Wanda Maximoff is just such.
Elizabeth Olson began portraying the character in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and has become a staple in the MCU franchise ever since. She has consistently wowed audiences and critics alike with her badass but emotionally sincere performances over the years and has become a fan favorite, both on and off the screen. A pivotal character in quite a few stories, Wanda has seen a lot happen to her, from losing people she cares about to outrageously huge fights. She’s been betrayed, lied to, cheated of happiness one way or another, and because of this, Wanda has never really had a time of prolonged happiness. But it is really how she deals with everything that is thrown at her that makes her such a fascinating character. She hasn’t always made the right decisions; in fact, some were just downright unredeemable, but she has always been a delight to watch. Beware, there are some big spoilers for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness incoming!
Starting in Avengers: Age of Ultron, we saw Wanda as a character who didn’t know what side to choose. She was experimented on as a child and absorbed chaos magic which gave her almost limitless powers, most of which she was unaware of. She was very easily able to deal with the Avengers by way of mind manipulation and was later asked to join the team after losing Pietro, her brother, the first big loss for Wanda. Later in the franchise, she inadvertently caused damage that cost some lives in the opening sequence of Captain America: Civil War, which calls into question whether or not she has control over her powers and how dangerous she could be. Vision empathizes with her, and Wanda finds safety and love in him. Knowing how this character is dealt with in the series, this was not going to last long. In fact, she had to kill him! In Avengers: Infinity War, she had to destroy one of the Infinity Stones, the mind stone which powered Vision, to prevent Thanos from getting it, killing the love of her life. Thanos would then use the time stone to reverse time a few seconds before Vision was killed and kill Vision himself to acquire the mind stone, while Wanda watched helplessly. Brutal! Wanda is then part of The Snap and disintegrates, holding Vision in her arms. This moment is really important; we’ll come back to it later.
It's here where Wanda’s story really picks up steam. After being snapped back in Avengers: Endgame, she has a rematch with Thanos and seems to be a ton more powerful than even the Mad Titan himself, almost single-handedly ripping him in half. After all the loss and pain she has gone through, Wanda decides she can’t live with it and decides to take matters into her own hands. She takes an entire town hostage in the terrific WandaVision and is able to supposedly bring Vision back from the dead. The happy couple then has two sons, Billy and Tommy… “Wait, isn't Vision a robot? How would that even work?” “I’m not sure, just go with it…” and they share an all too rare time of peace. It’s all fake, however; Wanda has created all this with the power of her chaos magic and grief. She is tricked by Agatha Harkness, played by the incredible Kathryn Hahn, into utilizing the full extent of her powers, finally becoming The Scarlet Witch. When exploring her powers, she learns of the multiverse and finds a universe where she and her two sons are alive and well, living in peace. What’s a witch to do?
Many saw Wanda’s heel turn to villain in the latest Doctor Strange outing to be a weird one or disloyal to the character, but it feels like it completes her story perfectly. A woman of unimaginable power driven by pain and grief, doing everything she can to get her happiness back. Robbed of a normal life, she couldn’t care less about what she would have to sacrifice to get a new chance. Wanda scours universes looking for the power to reunite with her boys and literally stops at nothing. I mean, she brutally slaughtered a secret society of super-heroes from another universe called the Illuminati… Seriously, I haven’t stopped thinking about Black Bolt’s death; talk about a headache. She chased Doctor Strange across a few universes and faced off against him and America Chavez, who literally has multiverse-level powers, and even they couldn’t stop her. She had lost herself completely. There was no going back anymore…
Now, remember that moment I told you about earlier. Wanda lay there, disintegrating with the love of her life, dead, in her arms. This scene is so tragically beautiful in the way Olsen decides to play it. Wanda seems to be content, accepting her fate. A slight smile crosses her face as she looks to the sky. Her pain was finally over. This was the only time we had truly seen Wanda accept her grief, albeit here, kinda without a choice. This moment was so important because, however inadvertent it may be, it set the scene perfectly for the climax of Doctor Strange 2.
Wanda seemed unbeatable. America Chavez couldn’t touch her, and a zombified Doctor Strange couldn’t either. It was only a Wanda from another universe that could. Chavez opened up a portal to a version of Wanda who had her boys, who were terrified of the evil Wanda. The alternate Wanda promised to love them unconditionally, and our Wanda seemed to realize how her anguish had driven her crazy. She was forced to accept her grief again, but at least this time, it was on her terms. She realized her wrongdoings and that she couldn’t force happiness. No matter how much she wanted to, she couldn’t change the past. She then dropped a mountain on herself, as one does, to destroy the traces of dark magic and prevent this kind of thing from happening again.
We didn’t actually see Wanda die, and off-screen deaths always leave a little wiggle room when it comes to bringing a character back. With a literal multiverse of options, there is certainly scope for Wanda to return in the MCU. A redemption arc in the way of her reappearance to help deal with the next big bad is definitely in the cards, considering her gigantic power level. She could even return as a more peaceful, less homicidal variant from another universe. That being said, Wanda’s story has felt like an epic journey and doesn’t feel like it needs any more telling. A tragic ending among the other bright and light-hearted heroes feels like a more powerful conclusion to her story. While the MCU is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon, there may be more stories to tell for the Scarlet Witch.
What do you guys think? Should Wanda make a return? Does Wanda have the best character arc in the MCU? Does someone else? Let us know on our socials and until next time, stay strange, my friends!