Latest posts by Nat Brehmer (see all)
- “More Villains Than You Can Shake a Web At!”: How Activision’s Spider-Man Revolutionized Superhero Games - 5th September 2018
- The Babysitter Murders: Archetypal Horror, Urban Folklore and John Carpenter’s Halloween - 4th September 2018
- “It Means Hope:” Christ Allegory and Why It’s Time to Start Embracing Superman’s Roots as a Jewish Hero - 28th August 2018
Scarlet Witch has been one of the more sidelined Avengers since her full debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron. That’s a bit of a shame as she is one of the most interesting, complex and powerful Avengers in the comic’s long and storied history. Growing up as a child in the 1990s, on the occasions I’d find myself reading an Avengers comic, characters like Captain America, Thor and Iron Man were making briefer and briefer appearances around that time and because of that, characters like Scarlet Witch and Vision were who I immediately identified with the title, as much if not more so than the so-called flagship heroes.
This character has been through extreme ups and downs over the course of her comic book history and—to some degree—this has been reflected in her appearances in both film and television. Along with her brother Quicksilver, she’s somewhat unique in that she’s as integral to the X-Men world as the Avengers world, so she’s appeared in nearly every animated adaptation of both.
Because she represents something different to the (also inherently very different) two titles, Scarlet Witch has seen extremely varied interpretations dating back over fifty years. As a villain, heroine and occasional guest star, Scarlet Witch has an incredibly diverse history of film & TV appearances.
She’s a unique character in that she operates as something of a bridge between two vastly different sides of the Marvel Universe. Originally introduced as a member of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men #4 back in 1963, she became a member of the Avengers only a few short years later and has been an integral member of Marvel’s cornerstone team ever since. Her powers, operating somewhere between the scientific and the mystical, are potentially limitless and have often proven to be devastating when beyond her control.
With Infinity War fever heating up, there’s no better time to explore her long history in film & television.
The Marvel Super Heroes: Captain America (1966)
Scarlet Witch’s first animated appearance came in the form of the Marvel Super Heroes animated series. This extremely low-tech show was made up of mostly static images, rarely animated original comic stories presented as they originally appeared. They were basically narrated original comic books. Scarlet Witch appears exactly as she appears in early 1960s Avengers issues, voiced by Peg Dixon.
These episodes were quick, too. Marvel Super Heroes was divided into different 5-7 minute segments, with Scarlet Witch appearing in a few of the Captain America episodes.
Iron Man (1994)
Scarlet Witch made a much more prominent animated appearance in the 1994 Iron Man animated series as a member of the main cast. The series took the majority of the Force Works cast at the time and made them a supporting cast for Iron Man instead of their own team. Instead of wearing her traditional classic costume, Scarlet Witch wore something much more similar to the brief redesign she was wearing in the comics at the time.
Aired in conjunction with The Fantastic Four as The Marvel Action Hour, Iron Man only lasted two seasons. Scarlet Witch was voiced by Katherine Moffat in the first season and Jennifer Darling in the second. Despite her costume and membership of Force Works, this incarnation of Scarlet Witch has next-to-nothing to do with her comic book counterpart. This version of Wanda does not even have the same last name and is instead listed as “Wanda Frank” (as opposed to Maximoff) in the closing credits.
Here, she is not a mutant but a genuine witch and Tarot-reading spiritualist. Because the show had no time to get into her complicated backstory, it stripped back her origin and gave her a predominantly supernatural role in this more mystical-themed show.
X-Men: The Animated Series (1996)
Scarlet Witch makes her next appearance in the beloved X-Men: The Animated Series. She appears alongside her twin brother Quicksilver in an episode appropriately titled “Family Ties.” This incarnation looks identical to her classic comic book appearance, as does Quicksilver. Her arc in the episode predominantly revolves around attempting to reconcile with her father, Magneto. This was of course long before the comics ret-conned that iconic origin story due to the cinematic rights issues between X-Men/Avengers characters.
The episode itself is also one of the more bizarre and outlandish, coming pretty late in the game. The X-Men find themselves in a battle against the High Evolutionary (who took credit for Witch & Quicksilver’s parentage after ret-conning out Magneto) and also sees Wolverine turn into a werewolf.
Avengers: United They Stand (1999)
Scarlet Witch is a member of the main cast for the first full-blown Avengers animated series, Avengers: United They Stand. The cartoon only ran for one season before its cancellation. In it, Scarlet Witch wears a costume very similar to her iconic comic book design—which almost looks out of place considering how heavily modified and updated some of the other characters look in comparison.
Although references to comic book characterization are made, the show has very little in common with the source material, which was a shock to fans who had become so use to the relative faithfulness of cartoons like X-Men, Spider-Man, Incredible Hulk and even The Silver Surfer. The series does play up her relationship with Vision for the first time in animation, though, and even hints at a love triangle including Namor.
“Got Milk?” Commercial (2000)
Here we have the esteemed live-action debut of Scarlet Witch in this Avengers “Got Milk?” commercial from 2000. If this was before anyone’s time, well, it was a very bizarre and lengthy ad campaign depicting characters from Spider-Man to Buffy the Vampire Slayer in various magazine ads. This commercial took things to the next level, showing a milk man show up at the Avengers mansion only to be indoctrinated as their latest member.
Scarlet Witch appears in her original comic book costume alongside Thor, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Hawkeye, Captain America and Hulk. This was (believe it or not) her one and only live action appearance before the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
X-Men: Evolution (2001)
One of Scarlet Witch’s most endearing and layered animated appearances to date, X-Men: Evolution reimagined her for a post-Craft/post-Buffy era. The series as a whole took heavy influence from both titles, even down to recreating specific scenes and shot—which is a major reason why it was such an incredible animated series to begin with. The influence was clearest in Wanda, though. Reimagined as a more antisocial, renegade goth, this Scarlet Witch was clearly modeled after Fairuza Balk’s iconic Craft witch, Nancy.
Despite its very updated take on the material, Evolution was very close to some of the characterization. Scarlet Witch’s relationship with her brother was explored as was their tense relationship with their father, Magneto.
This poor Scarlet Witch also had to deal with some unwanted attention as she became the object of desire for the lovesick Toad. Her allegiance to the Brotherhood, Acolytes and X-Men was constantly in question, making her one of the series’ most interesting characters.
Wolverine and the X-Men (2009)
Scarlet Witch makes a few appearances in this underrated, short-lived 2009 animated series about the X-Men coming back together one year after the disbanding of the team to stop a global threat to both humans and mutants alike. In this version, Scarlet Witch is one of the Acolytes and loyal to Magneto. When Nightcrawler encounters her on Magneto’s haven of Genosha, the two begin to fall head over heels in love for one another.
But given that it’s a mutant haven run by Magneto, things aren’t as they seem and Nightcrawler realizes that his place is definitely with the X-Men and not with Genosha. Despite that, the chemistry between the two is explored in each of her appearances.
The Marvel Super Hero Squad Show (2010)
In this much more comedic series based on the Hasbro toy line, Scarlet Witch first appears in the episode “Hexed, Vexed and Perplexed.” Magneto takes Quicksilver and Wanda with him to steal remnants of an Infinity Stone for Doctor Doom. During all of this, Falcon develops feelings for Scarlet Witch after she heals his pet bird/partner, Redwing.
Falcon also calls on the help of Scarlet Witch after he and the Super Hero Squad get imprisoned by the Skrulls. She helps end the Kree/Skrull War and defeat Thanos and the Soul Gem. She also later appears in the episode “World War Witch” in which her power accidentally sends her back to WWII, where she finds herself needing to help Captain America defeat the Red Skull. Another episode depicts her as the evil empress of Earth in an alternate reality.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Scarlet Witch makes her first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the post-credits sequence of Captain America: Civil War. Introduced alongside Quicksilver by Baron Von Strucker, Wanda appears to be a test subject, suggesting right away that the films have made radical changes to her origin to sidestep the fact that the twins are not legally allowed to be mutants in the Avengers movies.
From this brief appearance, Scarlet Witch appears to be less well-adjusted than her later appearances, looking almost child-like as she experiments with the limits of her newfound powers.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Scarlet Witch makes her full-fledged feature film debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The appearance of the twins caused some controversy, as some fans took serious issue with the fact that ethnically Jewish characters like Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver would willfully volunteer to be experimented on by a Nazi organization like Hydra. With how little it even factors into the movie, that almost makes it all the more unnecessary of a backstory. Especially since so many characters have had their backstories glossed over after being introduced.
Still, Wanda’s attachment to her brother is believable and the movie lays clear hints to her eventual relationship with the Vision. She also has maybe the best sequence in the entire film, stepping out of a bunker and demolishing a group of Ultron drones after initially retreating from the fight, cementing her place as an Avenger.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Easily her most satisfying appearance in the movies to date, Wanda has much more to do in Civil War. This film taps into her more recent comic book storylines, like Disassembled and House of M, in which Scarlet Witch’s use of her power accidentally causes large-scale destruction and lasting consequences. The movie also expands upon her relationship with Vision to an impressive degree, even though they eventually find themselves on opposing sides of the issue.
At the end of Civil War, Scarlet Witch is shown to be in the isolated prison known as The Raft, along with the rest of Captain America’s team. The ending suggests that Cap returns to break his team out, meaning that Scarlet Witch will likely be on the run and lying low when we next encounter her in Infinity War.