"I'm leaving here Vision. I won't be caged up like an animal anymore...not for something everyone keeps telling me isn't my fault."
Wanda Maximoff is the fraternal twin sister of fellow superhuman Pietro Maximoff. Born in the wartorn Eastern European country of Sokovia, Wanda and Pietro grew up in constant fear of their lives and of impending invasion. The defining event of their young lives was the war between Sokovia and neighboring Latveria. At the age of 10, Wanda and Pietro sat down to dinner with their parents, Django and Marya, when a mortar shell from Latveria crashed into the floor below their apartment, causing the whole room to cave in. While Django and Marya were killed, Wanda and Pietro took shelter underneath the heavy oak table, next to the shell that didn't explode. For nearly two days before they were rescued, they read the name "Stark Industries" on the side of the shell casing. This traumatic event gave them a deep seated hatred for the western powers, and Tony Stark in particular.
Wanda and Pietro would essentially live on the streets following their parents deaths, taking care of one another and stealing to survive. They would often participate in and even help organize several protests in Sokovia against UN peacekeeping forces once the war with Latveria had ended. This political activity and the vandalism associated with it placed them on the radar of SHIELD, and through their moles, HYDRA as well. It was in this way that the pair was eventually recruited by Wolfgang von Strucker, a HYDRA lieutenant, to volunteer for human experimentation with a scepter of alien origin by the Red Skull. Though several volunteers were conscripted, only Wanda and Pietro survived, with the latter gaining powers of superhuman speed and reflexes and the former gaining various mental powers, including telekinesis and mind manipulation.
The two trained in the use of their new gifts, awakened by the power of the Mind Stone, until the Avengers came to attack the main HYDRA base in Sokovia, searching for the Red Skull and Baron Strucker. Despite the reluctance of the Red Skull and Strucker, the Maximoffs entered the field against the Avengers. While Pietro engaged Hawkeye on the battlefield (as well as briefly running into Steve Rogers), Wanda more directly searched for Tony Stark, the subject of their hatred. After meeting up with the escaping Red Skull and her brother, Wanda found Tony in the basement bunker of the base, approaching the Red Skull's scepter. However rather than kill him, she read his mind and sent him an image of the earth being invaded and the Avengers lying dead at his feet. This image, along with encouragement from the Red Skull, led the Maximoff's to hold off on attacking Tony, seeing that he might build the object of his own demise.
The trio would later enter a church in the center of Novi Grad, the capital city of Sokovia. There they found Ultron, the culmination of Red Skull's research into artificial intelligence and Tony Stark's technology. Despite the Red Skull's hand in his creation, Ultron rebelled against his "father" and killed him outright (though this in turn revealed that this Red Skull was nothing more than a Life Model Decoy). Pietro and Wanda then agreed to help Ultron defeat and destroy the Avengers, stealing materials that were needed for the second half of his plan while waiting for the right time to strike the team. It came in Johannesburg, when the Avengers interrupted an arms deal between Ultron and Ulysses Klaue. Wanda proceeded to implant the minds of Natasha Romanoff, Steve Rogers and Thor with images designed to mess with there overall senses, though she was thwarted in her attempt to do so to Hawkeye. Afterwards, she and Pietro escaped the conflict and did the same to Bruce Banner, triggering his transformation into the Hulk and setting him loose on the city below, before escaping with Ultron.
The Maximoff's next accompanied Ultron to Seoul, seeking out Dr. Helen Cho and her regeneration cradle to build a new body for Ultron out of Vibranium and organic material. Using the Mind Stone both to control Dr. Cho and as a power source for the new android, Ultron began to upload his base consciousness into the hardware. However as he did so, Wanda got a glimpse of his plan, which involved building some sort of machine to wipe out humanity. Upon revealing this detail to her brother, the two of them freed Dr. Cho from her mind control and abandoned Ultron. They then joined with Captain America's team of Avengers and helped him stop a runaway train, while also taking the android body and the mind stone back to New York with them. Wanda was against trying to finish the android, referred to as Vision, but the argument was rendered moot by the actions of Thor. Joining their former enemies The Avengers, the Maximoffs returned to their homeland of Sokovia and faced off against Ultron's army of drones, destroying the rogue AI and his doomsday oscillation machine. Afterwards, Wanda, taking the name the Scarlet Witch, and her brother joined the new team of Avengers led by Captain America.
A year later, Wanda found herself in the center of controversy after a mission in Alexandria, Egypt went south, resulting in mass civilian casualties (including several diplomats from the African nation of Wakanda). This was especially hard on Wanda, as she was a central player in the explosion that went wrong, and she blamed herself for their deaths. In response to these events, the UN instituted the Avengers Protocols, designed to reign in the activities of super powered heroes. Pietro and Wanda, leery of the situation, declined to sign at that moment, simply keeping their options open. However their failure to sign led Tony Stark to instruct the Vision to try and keep them in Avengers Tower to avoid any incidents. This complicated matters between Wanda and Vision, as they were seemingly beginning to have a thing for one another. In the end, Pietro and Wanda broke out of the Tower and joined with Captain America's faction in Budapest, to try and capture Helmut Zemo. A battle broke out at the airport their with Tony Stark's faction of Avengers, resulting in the capture of the Maximoffs. Wanda and Pietro were imprisoned in the Raft supermax facility briefly, before they were set free by a fugitive Steve Rogers. With nowhere else to turn, the Maximoff's joined Cap's Secret Avengers group, though Wanda still held a complicated relationship with Vision from afar.
Powers & Abilities
- Telekinesis: Scarlet Witch was granted a variety of mental powers by the Mind Stone. Chief among these was a high degree of telekinesis, which she can use to lift objects far greater in mass than herself (including several cars at once), tear objects apart from the inside and even change the density of certain objects.
- Telepathic Potential: Wanda has shown the ability to read minds, somewhat, though this appears to be more of a reflex than anything. She has also been shown to project images into people's minds, making them see things that aren't really there or project and amplify their own subconscious fears.
Due to the nature of her powers, Wanda is emotionally connected to the people around her far more than her teammates, and can easily be overwhelmed in a stressful situation. Her telekinetic powers require concentration to use as well, and heavier objects require a greater mental strain. She continues to have doubts about her powers, though in reality she is one of the most powerful members of the former or current Avengers groups.
Wanda Maximoff appears in the following films in the Earth-11584 continuity. In all cases she is portrayed by actress Elizabeth Olsen.
- Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
- Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
- Captain America: Civil War (2016)