The Scarlet Witch Myth Explained: Everything Marvel Fans Need to Know

The Scarlet Witch Myth

When comparing the differences between the Marvel comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, origin stories become complicated to track. The Scarlet Witch myth – everything about how she gained her powers, who her parents are, and who she really is – differs between the adaptations.

While you might think it’s easier to just pick one or the other, having an understanding of the original comics will give you a richer understanding of the story and hints on where the creators might take the plot. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the Scarlet Witch myth from the comics and how it impacts the Marvel Studios adaptations of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

Wanda and Pietro

Scarlet Witch Comic

Wanda Maximoff’s origins both in the comics and in the MCU movies are shrouded in mystery. Many characters use this mystery to manipulate her as she searches for clues to her past. Just about the only fact that she can hold on to is that Pietro Maximoff is her twin brother. 

Wanda and Pietro lived together on Wundagore Mountain in Eastern Europe, growing up believing that they are mutants. Their early childhood involves happy memories with their parents. But they become separated during the local upheaval. And Wanda and Pietro had to fend for themselves and hide their powers to survive. 

In the comics, Wanda and Pietro associate more closely with the X-Men. The criminal Magneto takes them in and has them join the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. They fight frequently against the X-Men on behalf of the Brotherhood. But Pietro and Wanda leave for a future that doesn’t involve Magneto. 

During the Avenger disbanding, Captain America extends an invitation to the two mutants to join the new team. They joined the Avengers, hoping to become heroes and leave their pasts as misguided villains behind.

Because Marvel did not have the rights to the X-Men franchise until 2019, Wanda and Pietro got their start in Hydra according to the movies.

Magneto and Scarlet Witch
Image Credit: Al Ewing, Valerio Schiti/Marvel Comics

Scarlet Witch Enemies

One of the manipulators that traumatizes Wanda in the comics is Magneto. He not only told her from an early age that she was nothing but a mutant, but he convinced her that she was his daughter in order to manipulate her to follow his orders. She abandons the Brotherhood with Pietro and eventually faces off against her oppressor, but his insistence that he was her father only further confuses the Scarlet Witch myth.

Doctor Doom also preys on her during weak moments in her life. He recognizes the strength of Wanda’s powers and wants them for himself. She went to him for help in uncovering memories she lost. He later took advantage of her amnesia to keep her stuck in his country by convincing her he loved her.

For fans of the MCU movies and TV shows, Agatha Harkness is the best-known archnemesis to Wanda Maximoff. Agatha recognizes that Wanda could be the one to fulfill the Scarlet Witch myth, and she tutors her in hopes of eventually controlling her magic.

The Scarlet With Powers

The Scarlet Witch Powers

According to the comics, the actions of the High Evolutionary cause Wanda’s powers.

Herbert Edgar Wyndham, called “Lord High Evolutionary” by the army he created, built his citadel on top of where the malevolent Elder God Chthon was banished. As Chthon becomes unbound from his chains, a pregnant woman enters the citadel for shelter as she gives birth.

The time of the twin’s birth and the defeat of Chthon coincide, and the baby girl becomes touched by the demon’s powers. This story is the comic origin of Wanda’s chaos magic. We later learn that the twin’s true mother was Natalya Maximoff, the biological sister of Olek Maximoff, her adoptive father.

The High Evolutionary has yet to enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But rumor has it he’s making his way into the film franchise soon. Chukwudi Iwuji will play Lord High Evolutionary in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as the main villain.

Perhaps his role in forming Wanda’s powers will get woven into the movies?


Wanda’s Abilities

Wanda’s abilities come from her mastery of magic and her power to warp reality. Her exposure to mystical energies at the beginning of her life allows her to shape the world around her.

In her first years as an Avenger, it’s called a “hex power.” As she’s been featured in more and more MCU content, we’ve seen her explore the depths of her powers as she discovers she is capable of spontaneous creation. Her control of Westview in WandaVision opened viewers’ eyes to just how powerful this woman truly is. 

Her exploration into the art of spellcasting will only prove to increase her control and expand her abilities. The Scarlet Witch myth and Wanda’s acceptance into the role gets introduced into WandaVision when Agatha Harkness says, “You have no idea how dangerous you are. You’re supposed to be a myth, a being capable of spontaneous creation. Here you are, using it to make breakfast for dinner.”

The Scarlet Costume

The Scarlet Witch Costume

Characters like Iron Man literally have to suit up in order to become their alter egos. But with characters like Wanda, their alter egos are a bit less compartmentalized. No one actually calls her “The Scarlet Witch” until the eighth episode of WandaVision. 

As a result, she’s never really “suited up” for battle until she accepts her identity as the Scarlet Witch in the last episode of WandaVision. In the Avengers movies, the most “dressed up” she gets for battle is a long red jacket and pants. 

All this changes in WandaVision.

During the Halloween episode, we get our first callback to the original comics. In Episode 6, Wanda, Vision, and the replacement Pietro that Agatha Harkness conjures don homemade costumes that look like the original super suits from the 1960s.

Wanda calls it her “Sokovian fortune teller” costume when people ask. But when she entered the shot in her costume, fans of the original comics knew it was at least a fun callback, but most likely foreshadowing.

The character of Wanda Maximoff lives and breathes trauma. Every single person she has ever let herself get close enough to love gets taken from her violently. Her parents, her twin brother Pietro, Vision, and her children. She’s been used, abused, and manipulated by more people than she can count.

She is not a confident person. She is unsure of herself. And she struggles with her identity: is she a hero? A villain? Does she have a choice?

The Scarlet Witch Costume

The Costume Reveal

The series finale of WandaVision shows Wanda going from sweatpants and a zip-up hoodie to manifesting her very first superhero outfit. It’s more than just a glow-up.

It’s an actualization of her claiming her identity as The Scarlet Witch.

She ends the episode in her complete costume, boots, gown, gloves, and her iconic crown.

The red energy crown materializes at her temples and connects across her forehead. At this moment, she truly gains complete control over her powers. Her powers tie very closely to her complex emotions, and it’s easy for her to lose control. The crown appearing on her head could nod to the fact that she’s choosing logic over passion and taking claim to her powers, rather than letting her emotions overpower her.

As the crown appears, she says to Agatha, “Thanks for the lesson. But I don’t need you to tell me who I am.”

Elizabeth Olson spoke out against the sexist costume seen in the comics and how Marvel planned to adapt the classic look by taking it off of a piece of paper and into a generation that wants practicality over sexuality. “You look at where it started in the comic books and it was a leotard and a headband so…oh, it’s horrible, it’s so horrible. So at least they know that’s not cool.”


The Scarlet Witch Myth: Accepting Her Place in a Legacy

WandaVision played such a crucial role in the development of Wanda’s character. She fully accepts her identity as the manifestation of the Scarlet Witch myth, and the finale left us with one thousand questions.

What magic is she trying to perfect? What do her powers now include? Will she ever get her children back?

Can she ever conjure Vision permanently? Is she now a villain? What will the Avengers think of her actions?

She’s one of the most complicated and compelling characters in the MCU. And we can’t wait to see what Marvel Studios has in store for her character.

Let us know your thoughts on the character of Wanda, WandaVision, and your theories for where the MCU is heading with her character in our comment section below!


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