Scarlet Witch is one of the most iconic Marvel Comics characters in history, and throughout that history, she has undergone some significant changes.
The Marvel Comics history of Scarlet Witch is one of admirable redemption and heartbreaking tragedy as she has been put through some of the worst situations imaginable yet somehow always comes out of it a better person and a greater hero–and that is because of the arduous journey on which she has embarked throughout her comic book career, one that looks very different now than it did upon her debut.
Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch made her first appearance in X-Men #4 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. While Scarlet Witch was originally a villain, she quickly abandoned her life of crime to join the Avengers where she met the most significant person in her life–Vision. This meeting leads to Wanda and Vision falling deeply in love, and even starting a family. However, it is later revealed that Wanda’s two children, Billy and Tommy, weren’t real, and she was simply using her powers to conjure them whenever they were in her mind. While Scarlet Witch was made to forget about her ‘fake’ children, the memory of them lingered in her mind until it tore her apart–leading to Scarlet Witch’s most tragic storyline to date: House of M.
House of M details how Scarlet Witch uses her reality-bending powers to create a new world, one where practically every Marvel character gets exactly what they want out of life. While this reality eventually comes crashing down and ends with one of the most famous lines ever uttered in a Marvel Comics issue, “No more mutants”, this story is much more than one that simply throws Scarlet Witch back into the ‘villain’ role after decades of being a hero, but really shows how immensely powerful she is on a cosmic scale. In the beginning, Scarlet Witch’s power was described as this: if Wanda pointed at an enemy, they would immediately suffer misfortune in the form of physical harm. It wasn’t until the introduction of Billy and Tommy that it was revealed that the ‘Hex’ bolts Scarlet Witch threw at her enemies was actually due to her powers of reality manipulation, and that this power could take many forms beyond destruction–an idea that was taken to its most extreme during House of M. However, there is one aspect of her character that remained understated throughout these pivotal moments in her Marvel Comics history: Scarlet Witch is a powerful magic user.
Scarlet Witch Originated as an Evil Mutant, but Became a Benevolent Sorceress
Scarlet Witch’s introduction portrayed her as a mutant who had the power to cast chaos upon those she pointed at before her powers were upgraded to reality manipulation–though it was later revealed that her powers actually came from her ability to wield Chaos Magic. While Wanda was born a mutant, the demon Chthon manipulated her natural mutation at birth to unlock her magical potential. This means that everything Scarlet Witch had done was a result of masterful manipulation of Chaos Magic, and her more recent Marvel Comics appearances have shown Scarlet Witch using her magic to make up for what she did during House of M–with the most notable being her expansion of the mutant resurrection database on Krakoa.
The biggest way Scarlet Witch has changed from her first appearance is the revelation that she is a reality-bending wielder of Chaos Magic, not simply a ‘Hex’ casting mutant. However, the greatest aspect of her character has actually remained completely unchanged since her debut: Scarlet Witch is a hero. While time-and-again she has stumbled–from being a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants before joining the Avengers to eliminating most of mutant life during House of M before helping it thrive in Trial of Magneto–Scarlet Witch always finds her way back to the light. While the details of her powers have changed drastically, at her core, Scarlet Witch is a hero–a flawed one to be sure, but one who perfectly encapsulates the inspiring story of redemption.
Next: Scarlet Witch’s MCU Survival Is Settled by Marvel’s Magneto Rule