Scarlet Witch is a Marvel Comics
character, known as a longtime member of The Avengers
and as the instigator for several arcs
like Avengers Disassembled
and House of M
. She first appeared in X-Men
vol. 1 #4 (March, 1964), created by Stan Lee
and Jack Kirby
. Wanda Maximoff, daughter of Erik Magnus Lehnsherr (a.k.a. Magneto
), was born with magic-like mutant powers. With her twin brother Pietro (a.k.a. Quicksilver
), she was raised in the Wundagore Mountains by gypsies
. As it turned out, Wundagore served as a prison
for the Elder God Chthon
who imparted a fraction of his power to Wanda so that she might one day serve as his vessel
. Eventually, she and Pietro were recruited into the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants by their father (though neither he nor they were aware of their relationship at the time), and for a while they were both enemies of the X-Men
. Eventually Magneto was imprisoned and, having nowhere else to go, Wanda and Pietro applied for membership in The Avengers
along with another ex-villain (Hawkeye
/Clint Barton). Captain America
accepted them, as the roster was then empty (except for himself) and thus they converted to the side of good
Initially, she had a mutant power: "probability manipulation," which was basically her pointing in some direction, and random events would happen. "Witch" was just a fancy name. In time, she began to study actual magic with Agatha Harkness, a real witch, and began to earn her name. During Kurt Busiek's run, she learned that her probability manipulation was fueled by "chaos magic" and learned to tap more deeply into the magic, establishing herself as one of the most powerful Avengers.
Wanda fell in love with and married The Vision
, the Avengers' Ridiculously Human Robot
, but the marriage was troubled when she became pregnant. Wanda had used her powers to conceive with the android, and give birth to twin sons, only to later find out that she had drawn on the demon Mephisto's magic, who proceeded to erase their existence. The time-traveling villain Immortus claimed he had set up all these events
, including her marriage to Vision, with the goal of driving Wanda insane, since she was the "living anchor of reality"
of her universe. He intended to use her to reshape reality to his will
, but the Avengers stopped him. She then suppressed her memory
of her children, and it seemed she could move on (even though she had to break up with Vision afterwards).
Alas, it wasn't meant to be.
While discussing just how complicated having kids would be for a superhero, Janet/the Wasp slipped up and briefly mentioned Wanda's "kids" to her, leading Wanda to discover the truth and consequently suffer a breakdown. Thus began the arc of Avengers Disassembled
, where Wanda lost control of her powers and unconsciously killed off several Avengers, including Vision and Hawkeye, without being physically present — she spent most of the arc being kept company by illusions of her children until the Avengers came to confront her. She was eventually disabled by Doctor Strange
, only for Magneto to come and take her to Genosha to atone for his neglect. Her rampage destroyed the Avengers, since they couldn't go on after to the damage she had caused.Captain America
and Iron Man
founded the New Avengers and were about to move on, until...
Tensions arose between Magneto and Professor X in Genosha, because Xavier refused to help Wanda as she attempted to bring her husband back to life. In the end, Magneto retreated further and Xavier called in the X-Men
to decide on Wanda's fate; they agreed to kill her. Pietro overheard this news and in horror pleaded with Wanda to take immediate action. Pietro convinced his sister, whose powers had inexplicably grown to near-omnipotence
, to rewrite reality so Mutants became the dominant species, and Wanda had a human body in which she could have her sons. This was House of M
(check the main article for the details of what happened).
At the climax of House of M
, Magneto nearly killed Quicksilver, driving Wanda into total insanity; in her rage, she uttered the immortal words
: "No more mutants"
, and reverted the world back to normal, depowering 90% of all mutants in the process. Subsequently, she lost her memories and powers and retreated to a secluded life on Wundagore. Clint Barton, now revived, paid her a visit and eventually decided that she was better off not knowing what she had done.
In the 2011 The Children's Crusade
, Magneto teamed up with Wiccan
to find Wanda and get some answers. She was discovered living with Doctor Doom as his engaged bride, with no memory of her past. After an intervention by Iron Lad, Wanda and the Young Avengers were transported into the past, and a chance encounter with the Dread Jack of Hearts reawakened her memory. Declaring "More mutants," she touched the depowered mutant Rictor and restored his abilities. But the X-Men
came calling... as did the Avengers. In the end, it turned out that Wanda's omnipotence and insanity were caused by a cosmic power source that Doom helped her absorb, and that everything was a ploy for Doom to steal the power for himself. Eventually both teams banded together to defeat Doom and cripple him, but the power was released back where it came from, leaving Wanda unable to break the spell that depowered mutants. The X-Men
decided to not kill her and instead let her live as a method to pay for her crimes.
In Avengers vs. X-Men
, Wanda initially chose to sit out the war between the two groups after being turned away at Avengers Mansion by Vision. After having a premonition that the Phoenix Force would destroy the Avengers, she returned to save her ex-teammates, and eventually teamed up with the "Mutant Messiah," Hope, to help disperse the Phoenix and break the spell that prevented new mutants from being born. Captain America
offered her a spot in the Avengers once more, and she can currently be seen in Uncanny Avengers
Scarlet Witch will enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe
in The Avengers: Age of Ultron
portrayed by Elizabeth Olsen
FilmVideo GamesWestern Animation
- Vision and the Scarlet Witch Vol. 1 (1982)
- Vision and the Scarlet Witch Vol. 2 (1986)
- Scarlet Witch (1994)
- Mystic Arcana: Scarlet Witch (2007)
- Avengers Origins: The Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver (2012)
Tropes associated with the Scarlet Witch:
- Aborted Arc: John Byrne quit West Coast Avengers in the middle of an arc where Wanda had turned evil and was teaming up with her father to help mutants take over the world. The new writers quickly wrapped up as much of the arc as they could and ignored the rest.
- Action Mom: Becomes one in The Children's Crusade.
- Actually a Doombot: In the Children's Crusade mini, it was revealed that the Wanda living on Wundagore Mountain after House of M was a duplicate.
Hawkeye: You found her in Transia?
Billy: No, the Wanda we found in Transia turned out to be a Doombot.
- Anti Anti Christ: Chthon selected her on the day of her birth to work as his vessel some day day in the future, when Wanda's powers matured, and then unleash chaos and destruction in the world. Wanda successfully resisted and defeated Chthon, and from then on used his evil power for good actions.
- The Apprentice: To Agatha Harkness. Their relation began during The Celestial Madonna Saga, and ended when Harkness was Ret Gone in Avengers Disassembled.
- Badass Boast: Geoff Johns gave her a good one in a story where her chaos-based powers allowed her to fuse two cosmic entities, Order and Chaos, into one:
Wanda: You think your power means anything to me? I work in chaos as others work in clay. I weave together the improbable and the unnatural. I control chaos. So I can control you.
- Bad Powers, Good People: The source of her chaos magic is a God of Evil, but she uses it for good.
- Barrier Maiden: Several villains have described her as a "nexus being" who can be used to channel any source of magical energy.
- In "The Morgan Conquest," Morgan Le Fey uses Wanda's body to bridge the gap between two incompatible magical sources, allowing Morgan to become twice as powerful and Take Over the World.
- Beware the Nice Ones: The whole point behind her surprise role in Avengers Disassembled, where Wanda, traditionally the nicest person on the team, turns out to be the one who went Ax-Crazy and destroyed the Avengers on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
- Even when she's in her right mind, she can get pretty scary when someone hurts her friends or husband. In Ultron Unlimited, half a page is devoted to the shocked reactions of her teammates as they see what Wanda does to one of the villains.
- Break the Cutie: Taken Up to Eleven. Just...see above.
- Brother-Sister Incest: In Ultimate Marvel Universe she and her brother Pietro are outright stated to be lovers.
- Brother-Sister Team: she and Pietro.
- Cape Snag: She has a pair of cases at the West Coast, and tried a new costume without cape. It didn't stick.
- The Chosen One: "Nights of Wundagore" reveals that the God of Evil Chthon chose her at birth to receive his magical abilities, in an attempt to create the perfect vessel who would combine the powers of science (her natural mutant power) and sorcery. After her power matures, Chthon takes over her body and tries to use her to Take Over the World.
- Clones Are People Too: Sort of. Have you ever seen a Love Triangle made of a woman and 2 male clones? Well, you have the love triangle of the Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man, and the robot The Vision. A robot whose brain patterns are a copy of those of Wonder Man. They do not look alike, and had different lives since Ultron first made the Vision in the 70s, but still...
- Cool Big Sis: In All New X-Factor, she tries to be this for Polaris.
- Demonic Possession: By Ch'ton
- Diabolus Ex Machina: Both Avengers Disassembled and House of M depend on Wanda developing powers she never had before and being able to use them with accuracy she never has as a good guy.
- Fantastic Racism: Experiences this both for her status as a mutant and her mixed marriage to the Vision.
- Generation Xerox: In the Young Avengers:
- Stature falls in love with Iron Lad, a kid from the 30th century. Who rebuilds the Vision, using his own brain patterns on him. And then he returned to his own time, leaving the Vision behind, who begins a love relation with Stature. Sounds familiar? It should. See "Clones are people, too".
- Wanda's son of sorts Wiccan shares her reality warping powers, while his twin brother of sorts Speed shares her brother Pietro's super speed.
- Hot Witch: Mutant powers? Magic? Mutant powers that let her tap into magic? No matter which, she qualifies.
- Iconic Item: Her diadem. She may change her costume, but the diadem is always there. You wouldn't recognize her without it.
- Impractically Fancy Outfit: The gypsy outfit designed by George Perez◊ surely shows her as Ms. Fanservice more than ever before, but it's often considered to be this type of outfit.
- Incest Subtext: Wanda's relationships with her brother Pietro sometimes look a little 'too close'. Also, see Brother-Sister Incest above.
- Lady of Black Magic
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Nowadays, you can't read Avengers Disassembled and don't know in advance that the Scarlet Witch is behind all that, the mistery of the first half of it. In fact, you would probably buy that story precisely to read about Wanda's intervention in it.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: With Magneto.
- She and Pietro had a similar revelation with the Golden Age superhero The Whizzer, who was revealed to be their real father along with the Golden Age heroine Miss America. Later writers didn't like this origin and decided to Retcon Magneto into being their father instead.
- Mad Mutant Dictator's Beautiful Daughter
- Mama Bear: She remade the world to save her sons. She also kicks ass in The Children's Crusade with said kids.
- In The Children's Crusade, she was all set to sit back and let the X-Men do what ever they wanted to her. Then Emma Frost tried to mind control her kids into going with the X-Men.
Scarlet Witch: Auntie Emma, you might want to check with their mother first. Because I hear she can be a real bitch. *Blasts Emma Frost in the face*
- Ms. Fanservice: Becomes this whenever George Perez is drawing The Avengers. In 1998 he replaced her original costume with a Stripperific Romani-influenced outfit, which was replaced with a more practical superhero costume soon after he left the book.
- My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Quicksilver's attitude over her the first years. Turned into a I Have No Sister when she told him about her relation with the Vision.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: At the end of "Ultron Unlimited". All the battle-weary Avengers were counting on her to use her powers to break Ultron's body... but she was badly hurt, could not concentrate, and made Ultron more powerful than ever instead. If The Cavalry did not arrive to save the day...
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Her powers were never really defined beyond being "unpredictable," so Depending on the Writer her hexes can do just about anything.
- The Omnipotent: Suddenly became this in House of M, though no attempt was made to explain why this happened. In ''The Children's Crusade'' it's finally explained that she absorbed a Dark Phoenix-like reality warping power source that possessed her.
- Opposites Attract: In Geoff Johns' run on The Avengers, he had Wanda hint at this being the reason why she and Vision are right for each other:
Chaos: Why should a being like you, a witch who works in chaos, care for this thing of perfect order?
Wanda: Because chaos and order belong together.
- In Avengers vs. X-Men she bonds with Hope, who was created by the Phoenix Force to oppose her.
- Physical Goddess: She has the power to alter probability. At its apex, we go from 'give enemy bad luck' to 'make the probability of anything she can think of become 100%,' becoming a Reality Warper who is limited only by the fact that as one born human her mind can't always handle it.
- Power Creep, Power Seep: When she started out, she had only the power to create "hexes," which would cause bad things to happen.
- Powered by a Forsaken Child: Several Big Bads, such as Immortus and Morgan Le Fay, used her as their power source.
- The origin of her powers is a combination of her natural mutant abilities and being infused with a portion of the powers of Chthon, an immensely powerful demonic entity, who intended to use her as his host. And still does.
- Punch Clock Villain: She and Pietro were only in Magneto's Brotherhood because he saved their lives and demanded that they join him as payment; they refused to kill anyone, used their powers against Magneto to stop him from killing, and joined the Avengers as soon as they were free of him.
- Put on a Bus: After House of M, she disappeared from the comics for six years, with writers forbidden to use her except in flashbacks or alternate universes. The Bus Came Back in Children's Crusade and Avengers vs. X-Men.
- Reality Warper: Her probability manipulation could be regarded as a minor form of reality warping. Crossover event Avengers Disassembled cranked her up to full Reality Warper.
- Refused by the Call: Is the Scarlet Witch the celestial Madonna? After all, she started her studies of magic, and the star that announced the coming of the Madonna appeared over the Avengers mansion. But no, the celestial madonna is Mantis.
- Required Secondary Powers: John Byrne theorized this about her power to alter probabilities: if she can do that, he argued, that means she must be altering time retroactively, changing all the events that go into making something improbable. In his Aborted Arc on West Coast Avengers, Byrne used this theory to briefly turn her into a Reality Warper for the first time.
- Retcon: Bendis became guilty of this in Avengers Disassembled. Prior to this, Wanda had always remembered her children and was completely fine; it was only this story that said she had forgotten about them, and turned her into a psycho. (And before that, John Byrne retconned Wanda's children as being pieces of a Supervillain's soul via Mephisto, and this caused her to go crazy the first time.)
- Robosexual: She even married The Vision. And as of Avengers vs. X-Men, it's shown that she still loves him.
- Romani: She and Pietro were adopted by a Gypsy shaman and his wife, whom she considers their "real" parents even after Magneto was revealed to be their biological father.
- Scarlet Fever
- She's Back: The formation of Mighty Avengers teased this, but it was really Loki in disguise. Played straight in Children's Crusade #6 — Wanda's alive, repowered, and back to her old self. Which arguably makes things even more complicated.
- Squishy Wizard: She's mostly useless in a fight without her powers.
- Subverted in "Nights of Wundagore" when, up against an opponent whose magic is stronger than hers, she punches him in the face and knocks him off a cliff.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Roy Thomas used to treat her this way in the 1970s.
- 10-Minute Retirement: When the Stranger captured Magneto, the original Brotherhood of evil mutants disbanded, and Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch (who had been blackmailed to be part of the group) retired and promised that they would never use their powers of behalf of others. Still, when Iron Man, Giant Man and the Wasp left the Avengers, they saw the news and moved back to America, to try their luck on this other team.
- The Power of Love: More than mere magic, it's what allowed Wanda to bring Wonder Man back from the dead.
- Tomboy: Hard to imagine nowadays, but the Scarlet Witch was a bit tomboy back in the 1970s. Even Hawkeye once defined her as a "Churchill with skirts"
- Took a Level in Badass: When she tapped into chaos magic, at the beginning of Kurt Busiek's run. She grew from being mere Fetish Fuel, the girl in the swimsuit that makes tricks, into being arguably the most powerful Avenger (but not as far as with reality warping yet). In fact, several battles had the other Avengers gaining time until she could concentrate and defeat the monster with her magic.
- In The Bronze Age of Comic Books she took an earlier level in badass under writer Steve Englehart, who made her more assertive and aggressive and had her study real witchcraft with Agatha Harkness, learning to do things like animate inanimate objects and call meteors down from the sky.
- In JLA/Avengers, the higher levels of magic in the DC universe make Wanda so powerful that she's able to subdue the entire Justice League with one hex.
- Too Powerful to Live: In House of M and Children's Crusade, several characters try to kill her to prevent her new reality warping powers from destroying the world.
- Also too powerful to procreate: In Avengers Forever, a Space Phantom explains that Immortus tried to prevent Wanda from having children because her biological children would be powerful enough to Take Over the World.
- The fact that her son William (reborn as Billy Kaplan) once stepped outside of the multiverse at will and rearranged it to his liking at the age of sixteennote is a good indicator that this fear was apparently not entirely unfounded.
- Torches and Pitchforks: In her first origin story, she was saved from an angry mob by Magneto. Seems fitting, for a character named "witch".
- Trauma Conga Line: John Byrne wrote and drew West Coast Avengers for a little over a year, and spent most of the time putting her through one of these. First the Vision was dismantled and his personality erased, effectively ending her marriage. Then she was kidnapped by a secret society trying to use her to create a race of super-mutants. Then her children were revealed to be made from pieces of the devil's soul and erased from existence. Then her memories were erased, she was driven into a catatonic state, and she temporarily went insane, all part of a plot by Immortus to ruin her life and drive her mad.
- Trauma-Induced Amnesia: The explanation for why she forgot she had children.
- Truly Single Parent: Unable to procreate with the Vision, she impregnated herself by tapping into the power of a village of witches and impregnating herself with children who were equally hers and her husband's. Or so it was in the beginning.
- Unwanted Harem: Being the only female in Magneto's earliest incarnation of the Brotherhood of Evil and the only female Avenger for a while probably caused a lot of it.
- Weddings for Everyone: Mantis and the Swordsman got married at the end of The Celestial Madonna Saga; and as they were at it, why not get the Vision and the Scarlet Witch married too? What a pity that Pietro is not there, he will miss the wedding... but hey, he made a I have no sister scene about her love for the Vision, and he did not invite her to his wedding with Crystal, so he deserves being left out.
- Winds of Destiny, Change: Trope Namer. Her power is usually described in the comics as the power to alter probabilities, changing the odds of something happening (spontaneous combustion, entropy, changes in weather) from very unlikely to a dead certainty.
- With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: The "Darker than Scarlet" arc in West Coast Avengers and the later Avengers Disassembled storyline.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: She undergoes a fluctuating life where the good (a family with The Avengers, marriage to her One True Wuv, having her longed-for kids) is outweighed by the bad (her father is a supervillain, her husband gets mindwiped and divorces her, her kids aren't real), along with a number of possessions, kidnappings, and multiple forced amnesia inflicted by her most trusted friends. Then she rewrites the universe. Then she does it AGAIN.