Wanda Maximoff is one of Marvel's most compelling characters. A long-time favorite of the X-Men comics, Wanda's status as an Avenger allowed her to appear in Avengers: Age of Ultron last year. Her silver screen debut rivaled her comic book counterpart, as she struggled with her newfound powers and the death of her brother, taking her place among the MCU Avengers.
Returning in Captain America: Civil War, many of us expected the Scarlet Witch to just be another Avenger thrown together in the epic fight scene, since the story was driven by Steve's desire to protect Bucky. And yet, Wanda ended up being more important to Civil War than we could have imagined.
[Warning: mild spoilers ahead]
Before the film was released, Entertainment Weekly dropped some serious hints about Scarlet Witch's role in Civil War. So, we're going to confine the spoilers to this: Wanda is at the center of a major international incident and that's what sparks off the Sokovia Accords. But it's her character development within the film that really stands out.
Responsibility & Limitations
Ultimately, Wanda's story is about dealing with guilt. When we begin Civil War, Wanda already bears the burden of survivor's guilt, as well as her remorse for her country. But she's plunged into the action, relishing her role as an Avenger.
In one of the first action sequences of Civil War, which we caught a glimpse of in the above clip, Scarlet Witch is working perfectly with her teammates, using her powers to shield bullets, dissipate gas, and propel Cap through the air "just like we practiced."
So far so good, Wanda has clearly gotten a handle on her powers. Until, of course, it all goes wrong, and in one instant Wanda becomes guilty of much more than being a survivor.
The theme of Scarlet Witch causing problems is a recurrent one in Marvel Comics; you need to look no further than the game-changing House of M arc to know how dangerous Wanda can be. But surprisingly, Civil War handles this idea much better than many of Wanda's comic book writers.
The Russos stress that Wanda is still "just a kid" — sure, she has extraordinary capabilities and some would consider her dangerous, but she deserves to be treated as someone who can bear the responsibility of her own actions. There's a lot of talking about Scarlet Witch as a liability, someone who the world needs protecting from — at least, until Steve steps in.
In the past, it's Bucky who has always been Steve's tipping point. When his best friend is threatened, that's when Steve's patience for negotiation breaks and he dives head first into action. In many ways, this is true of Civil War (as it should be), but Steve isn't one to ignore his teammates when they're in trouble. And it's the question of what to do with Wanda that sparks the first sign of anger from Cap.
This plunges the team into that civil war we've been hearing so much about, striking an interesting parallel between Wanda and Bucky. So, where does Wanda go from here? Her character development in this film has taken the MCU in a very exciting, but certainly controversial direction.
The Point Of No Return
Of all the characters, Wanda faces the most dire consequences in the aftermath of Civil War. She's at somewhat of a tipping point now, and while her loyalty to her teammates has no doubt been proven, the world will never see her as the sweet young hero again.
Wanda's story in Civil War is the strongest connection to the theme of the infamous comic book arc: the danger that superpowered people pose to the world. And although many loose ends are tied up in Civil War's conclusion, Wanda's story remains open ended. We're left wondering how she can come back from this, and whether she can ever truly redeem herself as a hero. No character is more worried about this than Vision, whose protective concern for Wanda is palpable.
"I just want the world to see you as I do."
Here we see the bud of a beautiful relationship between these two characters, one that is almost destroyed by the events of Civil War.
Repairing the relationship between Vision and Wanda will definitely be a strong subplot in Infinity War, but before this happens Wanda must heal her reputation. And we're not sure whether she can.
Wanda is in a fascinating position at the conclusion of Civil War: she has long been referred to as the "wild card" of the MCU, and this statement has never been truer. The formidable and plot-shaking abilities Wanda harnessed in Civil War (just keep an eye on Vision's mind gem) have huge implications for Infinity War, but what she'll use those talents for remains to be seen.
Civil War is really a stepping stone in Wanda realizing her full potential. She may have learned to harness her abilities, but she still hasn't discovered the full extent of them. And of course with the entrance of Doctor Strange, the MCU will become immersed in magic and all the thrilling possibilities this holds.
So, what part will Wanda play in the eventual fight against Thanos? Although Civil War doesn't directly address the threat the heroes will face in Infinity War, there's no doubt that the pieces are aligning on the board, ready for the most catastrophic conflict yet. And as the stars of the comics line up for Infinity War, Scarlet Witch will take her place as one Marvel's most powerful heroes — or its most terrifying villain.
Hero or villain: What do you think Wanda will become?
[Header source: no-look-pass on DeviantArt]