Wanda Maximoff deserves the best from the MCU

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Wanda Maximoff has had a tough couple of years. After appearing in various Avengers films, the character finally hit the spotlight in Disney+’s first Marvel Original Series. WandaVisionand again this month Doctor Strange in the multiverse of madness. After years of being the fifth, sixth, or seventh superhero on the call list, she gets what she deserves. There’s only one problem: As she rose to the status of movie poster powerhouse, she also went from being a character aware of the responsibility inherent in her powers to someone out of control spinning ideas from her comic book incarnations. into something much worse than anything that has ever been seen on the page.

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For some Wanda’s on-screen journey from 2014 Avengers: Age of Ultron to Multiverse of Madness is suitable. After all, she was originally introduced as an operative for the terrorist organization Hydra. So perhaps, argues the argument, it makes sense for her to take an “evil” turn. But such rationalizations ignore the fact that Marvel’s mythology is built around redemption, people going through hard times to become heroes. If Bucky Barnes can survive Hydra’s manipulation to fight alongside the Avengers and remain a hero, then why not Wanda? Why would she, one of the most powerful witches in the universe, turn into a character that can be manipulated by anyone and everything, from Hydra to Agatha Harkness to the Darkhold? People will say it’s because she’s overcome with grief over the death of her partner, Vision, but excuses like this are troubling because they deprive one of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe of her power.

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Many have pointed out that Wanda’s journey in the MCU coincides with that of another famous Marvel heroine and another story that has hit the big screen (more than once, in fact): Jean Gray from the X-Men franchise. In The Dark Phoenix Saga, as the storyline was retroactively revealed, Gray – one of the original members of the fan-favorite team – gained the powers of a god, but lost touch with her humanity and turned into a villain. this must be dealt with by her fellow X-Men. It’s not exactly Wanda’s story, but the message is troublingly the same: Powerful women simply cannot be trusted; you never know what they’re going to do.

However, Wanda Maximoff’s on-screen journey was not directly inspired by the Dark Phoenix; in fact, it is drawn directly from the character’s comic book history and specifically from the work of writers John Byrne and Brian Michael Bendis. Late 1980s, early 90s Byrne continues West Coast Avengers (renamed Avengers West Coast halfway through) is the basis for much of what Wanda has experienced in the MCU over the past couple of years. Over the course of two years, Byrne destroyed the Vision, destroying Wanda’s marriage in the process, and revealed that her children were simply magical constructs that ceased to exist due to the machinations of a demonic villain, and that she was possessed or influenced two separate entities to turn her evil into different plot targets.

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Byrne has since claimed that it was all part of a larger story he planned but never got told because he left the series due to conflicts with Marvel editors and executives, but the wounds were already done. Wanda’s world was destroyed and the character was left damaged as a result.

how damaged? Well, for this, we turn to the 2004 Bendis. Avengers writing debut “Chaos”. (It is also known as Avengers Disassembled, which was the official title of the publication dedicated to the story.) all Avengers. She is defeated by the team and falls into a magical coma by none other than Doctor Strange and then taken by her then-father, the X-Men villain Magneto. (Wanda’s fatherhood is a long-standing, overly complicated, over-rewritten storyline in the comics; don’t ask.)

She was not seen again until next year House M a crossover event, again engineered by Bendis, in which she was manipulated to rewrite reality into a mutant-dominated world before eventually “ordinary” reality reasserts itself – with the essential difference that the mutant gene was extremely limited, turning a mutant species into an endangered species. So, you know, it ended well.

While Byrne’s contribution to the Wanda Maximoff story is more faithfully adapted for the MCU (WandaVision even introduced a new, unemotional Vision, not unlike the reboot of the hero he introduced during that West Coast Avengers run), it is perhaps the story of Bendis that has more influence thematically, showing her as a distraught woman ready to kill superheroes in her grief.

After all, Wanda is even worse off in the MCU. Not only is she directly select killing other heroes – as opposed to indirectly killing “Chaos” – as a result of the Darkhold’s influence, but her single-minded obsession with reuniting with her children is implied to have caused destruction throughout the multiverse on an unknown scale. . Wanda’s hands are dirty to the point where not even her implied sacrifice at the end of the film can fix them. Her actions are also largely erasing the growth seen in WandaVision, which showed her struggling with the mind-manipulating pain she caused in the city of Westview and eventually confronting her trauma. Instead of showing any of this on the screen, multiverseThe filmmakers decided to keep the worst parts of Wanda’s story from the comics and then double it down.

It’s a shame. Several creators have spent years buying back the Wanda comic in everything from Avengers: Children’s Crusade to Trial of the Scarlet Witch. Now, nearly two decades later House Mthey almost cleaned up the mess. Perhaps Marvel Studios has plans to do the same. But it seems so unnecessary when they could just let her be the hero she’s already proven herself to be.

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