The Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) is a fictional superhero appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in X-Men #4 (March 1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. The character has since starred in two self-titled limited series with husband the Vision and appears as a regular team member in superhero title The Avengers.
Magda, the wife of Magneto, escapes from him while pregnant and takes sanctuary at Mount Wundagore in Transia, the home of the High Evolutionary. She gave birth to twins, Wanda and Pietro. The Elder God Chthon altered Wanda at birth and gave her the ability to use magic in addition to her mutant abilities, planning to use her as a vessel when her powers reached maturity. Fearing that Magnus would discover the children, Magda leaves the sanctuary and supposedly dies of exposure to the elements. The twins are attended by Bova. Bova soon assists the superheroine Miss America through labor, but the birth results in a stillborn child and Miss America dies in the process. Bova tells the Whizzer (Robert Frank) that the twins are his children, but he flees because of shock from the death of his wife. The High Evolutionary places them instead in the care of the Romani Django and Marya Maximoff, who raise the twins as their own, naming them Pietro and Wanda. After Django Maximoff steals some bread from a neighboring town in order to feed his starving family, the townsfolk set fire to the Roma village, killing Marya. Pietro carried Wanda to safety and the two wandered Europe for some time. The events of their childhood were so traumatic that they did not remember them until well into their adult lives. After Wanda used her powers to save a child, they were chased by a mob. They were saved by Magneto, although neither of them are aware of their connection. He recruits them for the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, which fought against the X-Men on several occasions. Magneto is abducted by the cosmic entity Stranger, the Brotherhood dissolves and the twins declare that their debt to Magneto has been paid.
Soon after Magneto’s abduction, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch join the Avengers. Along with Captain America as leader, and former villain Hawkeye, the four become the second generation of the Avengers and are later dubbed as “Cap’s Kooky Quartet”.
Wanda is accidentally shot on a mission against Magneto. Quicksilver rejoins Magneto and leaves the Avengers with his wounded sister. After a pair of encounters with the X-Men, the twins left Magneto, but did not rejoin the Avengers immediately. Wanda and Pietro are then kidnapped along with several other mutants by the Sentinels, but are subsequently freed by the X-Men.
Quicksilver later returns to the Avengers and advises them that Wanda has been kidnapped and taken to another dimension by the warlord Arkon. After being rescued, both of them rejoin the team. The Scarlet Witch then falls in love with android teammate the Vision. Before long, the two develop a romantic relationship. Their relationship has a tumultuous start as both Quicksilver and Hawkeye object — Quicksilver cannot accept the idea that his sister loves a robot while Hawkeye loves Wanda himself. Despite this, the pair eventually marry with the blessing of the entire team.
The Scarlet Witch begins to be tutored by a true witch, Agatha Harkness, which allows her even greater control over her hexes. Wanda and Pietro also meet Robert Frank, who believes them to be his children. This is later disproved when Wanda and Pietro are abducted by Django Maximoff and taken to Wundagore. Wanda is temporarily possessed by the demon Chthon, and after defeating it is advised by Bova that neither Frank nor Maximoff is their biological father. Soon after, while trying to track down Magda one last time, Magneto learns that he is the father of the twins. He immediately informs them of their relationship, shortly after the birth of Pietro’s daughter Luna. The Scarlet Witch and the Vision take a leave of absence from the Avengers, and she conceives the twin boys named Thomas and William. As the Vision is an android, she got pregnant using magic. Wanda gives birth, and, with the Vision, eventually leaves the East Coast to join the West Coast Avengers.
Their relationship is almost ended when the Vision is dismantled, and then recreated as an emotionless android. Wonder Man, who had a crush on the Scarlet Witch, refuses to allow a new recording of his brain patterns to restore the Vision’s personality. Another personal setback follows when it is revealed that Wanda’s children are in fact missing shards of the soul of the demon Mephisto. Absorbed back into Mephisto, Agatha Harkness temporarily erases Wanda’s memories of her children from her mind in order to ensure that she can temporarily disrupt Mephisto’s physical form. It is ultimately revealed that Immortus masterminded those events, as he sought to tap into the temporal nexus energy she possessed. The Avengers ultimately rescue Wanda, who regains her memories of her children in the process.
Immortus’s actions leave Wanda’s hex power drained and highly unreliable, which was fixed by Agatha Harkness and Doctor Strange. Wanda is then nominated as leader of the Avengers West Coast team. When the team is dissolved, Wanda leads a new one called Force Works. The team suffers several setbacks, including the death of Wonder Man on the first mission. When the team splinters after the last mission involving Kang the Conqueror, the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye return to the main team.
The Vision and Scarlet Witch reconcile shortly before sacrificing themselves with the other Avengers and the Fantastic Four to stop the mutant villain Onslaught. Due to the intervention of Franklin Richards, Scarlet Witch and her teammates exist in a parallel universe for a year, until being returned to the mainstream universe.
Shortly after the heroes return, the Scarlet Witch is kidnapped by the sorceress Morgan le Fay, with the intention of using Wanda’s powers to warp reality. Wanda temporarily resurrects Wonder Man, and the Vision is damaged in the final battle with Le Fay. Agatha Harkness tells her that she is now able to channel chaos magic, which made her more powerful. Wanda finally resurrects Wonder Man for good, and the two become lovers. The Vision is eventually repaired and once Wonder Man breaks up with Wanda,they resume their relationship. Her ability to channel chaos magic culminates when the villain Scorpio splits the cosmic entity the In-Betweener into his separate order and chaos personas and Wanda has to reassemble the entity.
Reality warping era
Wanda hears the Wasp mock her ambitions for motherhood, only to find herself missing her memories of ever having had children. The Scarlet Witch then seeks out help from Doctor Doom to see if he can restore her children to life. To do so, they summon a mysterious cosmic entity which merges with her. Wanda under the influence of the entity launches a campaign of terror against the Avengers, blaming them for the death of her children. The Vision is destroyed, Hawkeye is killed, and Scott Lang is almost killed, but is saved by Wanda’s future self, who teleported him to the future. Doctor Strange defeats Wanda, and Magneto leaves with her.
Realizing that the Avengers and the X-Men are seriously contemplating killing his sister, due to her unstable powers, Quicksilver convinces Scarlet Witch to use her powers to create a world where everyone has their heart’s desire fulfilled. Although the reality warp succeeds, several heroes (Hawkeye, Wolverine, and Layla Miller) regain their memories and gather Earth’s heroes to stop the “House of M”. When Magneto discovers what Quicksilver did, he murders him. Wanda resurrects him and, enraged with her father, depowers 90% of the mutant population, including Magneto and Quicksilver. She retires to Wundagore, to live a secluded normal life. Both Beast and a resurrected Hawkeye met her during this time.
Powers and abilities
Scarlet Witch is able to manipulate probability via her “hexes” (often manifesting physically as “hex spheres” or “hex bolts”). These hexes are relatively short range, being limited to her line of sight. Casting a hex requires a gesture and concentration on her part, though the gestures are largely a focus for the concentration. Despite this precision, the hexes are not necessarily guaranteed to work, particularly if Wanda is tired or using her powers excessively. If overextended, Wanda’s hexes can backfire, causing probability to work against her wishes or even undo previous hexes. Early in her career, Wanda’s hexes were subconscious on her part, and would be automatically triggered whenever she made a particular gesture, regardless of her intent. These hexes would only manifest “bad luck” effects. She later gained enough control over her powers so they only work when she wants them to, and they are not limited to negative effects. She can use her hexes to light flammable objects, contain or remove air from a particular volume, deflect objects, stop the momentum of projectiles, open doors, explode objects, create force fields, deflect magical attacks etc. The effects are varied but almost always detrimental to opponents, such as causing the artifact the Evil Eye to work against the inter-dimensional warlord Dormammu, forcing the robot Ultron to short circuit, or a gas main underneath the Brotherhood of Mutants to explode. The Scarlet Witch also has the potential to wield magic and later learned that she was destined to serve the role of Nexus Being, a living focal point for the Earth dimension’s mystical energy.
Writer Kurt Busiek redefined the Scarlet Witch’s powers, and maintained that it was in fact an ability to manipulate chaos magic, activated due to the demon Chthon changing her mutation at birth into an ability to wield and control magical energy. This was offered as an explanation for her various feats that seemed to go beyond probability alteration, as well as why her hexes almost always have an effect that is favorable to her goals. During Busiek’s run as well as the subsequent run by Geoff Johns, she was shown to be capable of large-scale spells given enough concentration and time to shape the chaos magic to a specific goal, including the resurrection of Wonder Man.
In House of M, her power was depicted as sufficient to rewrite her entire universe, and cause multiverse-threatening ripples. In The Children’s Crusade it was revealed that this omnipotence was not part of her natural power level, but the result of a cosmic magical source that increased a magic user’s powers to god-like levels. By the end of the event she had returned to her previous power level, able to alter probability and work magic, but not able to change reality at will.
She also has a degree of resistance to the Phoenix Force and can also cause pain to its hosts, such as Cyclops when he tried to stop Hope from going with her. However, this becomes less effective as the Phoenix Force portions are divided among those who have not yet been defeated. A vs X #12 confirmed that her powers involve chaos magic, and stated that she has “Mutant Magic”, and the “primal source of her chaos” magic is cosmic.
Wanda is also an expert combatant, having been trained by Captain America, Hawkeye, and Wonder Man, as well as being an adept tactician due to her years of experience as an Avenger and her involvement in a variety of combat situations.