While we decode and speculate the small teases we’ve seen so far on the marriage between mutant and synthetic in Disney+'s imminent MCU series WandaVision, we’re taking a look at the unlikely duo Scarlet Witch and Vision and their often-weird, sometimes sad history in Marvel Comics...
The characters and their relationship on paper are very different to that which we’ve seen so far on screen. For starters, Wanda hasn’t actually been referred to as the red-caped Scarlet Witch yet following her introduction to the MCU with twin brother Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, Scarlet Witch aka Wanda Maximoff first appeared in 1964 in Uncanny X-Men #4, and while in film she’s become a key member of the Avengers troupe and therefore, one of the good guys, in the comics, it wasn’t always that way.
Wanda is a mutant who can tap into the cosmic powers of the universe. She possesses magic abilities, can alter reality and manipulate probabilities to use against her foes. Both Wanda and Quicksilver entered the series as members of the Brotherhood of Mutants under the wing of Magneto, who, depending on who you ask, is revealed to be their father - stay with us, thanks to a lot of retcons, their lineage gets complicated.
Their mother Magda is said to have fled from Magneto to Wundagore Mountain where she gave birth with the help of an anthropomorphic cow named Bova - comics, ladies and gentlemen. Leaving nothing but a note, Magda disappears and the new-borns are left in the care of the midwife cow who calls on her boss, the High Evolutionary, to help. The twins are placed with a Roma gypsy couple Django and Marya Maximoff and after some pretty traumatic events that see the accidental slaying of their adopted mother, they are forced to leave their home town. Wandering through Europe, Wanda is spotted using her powers and chased by an angry mob but Magneto saves and recruits them for his mutant supergroup to go up against the X-Men. Wanda, unaware of the paternal connection, obliges, feeling she owes Magneto a debt for their rescue. Time passes and Wanda and Quicksilver’s motives don’t exactly sit well with that of the Brotherhood, so the reluctant villains ask the Avengers - in a handwritten letter, no less - if they can join their squad.
Synthetics in the Suburbs
Wanda had already joined the Avengers crew (and left and joined again) when Vision made his debut as the super powerful synthezoid with feelings in Avengers #57. Created by Hank Pym’s rebellious Ultron by combining the brain scan of Wonder Man with the android body of the Human Torch, Vision is manipulated to be a villain in a bid to kill The Avengers, earning his moniker when the Wasp labels him an “unearthly, inhuman Vision”. The red, solar power-absorbing android ends up turning against Ultron and trying out for the Avengers himself. It’s here where Wanda and Vision start their romance...
In 1975, Wanda and Vision got married in Giant-Size Avengers #4, tying the knot in a joint ceremony with Mantis and Swordsman (well, an alien in the form of his body at least but one storied union at a time, please). They briefly retired to seek out a normal existence in the suburbs of New Jersey, documented in two limited series featuring four and 12 issues, both titled Vision and the Scarlet Witch. But it’s not the quiet wedded bliss they’d hoped for. Their suburban life leads to conflicts, not least with their new neighbours who protest to having their ‘kind’ living on their doorstep. In a commentary on cultural prejudices at the time, The Avengers #113 sees an image of Vision and Wanda kissing, aggravating a group of bigoted extremists who attempt to attack Stark Industries and destroy the Vision.
Inside the relationship, there are more struggles, heightened when the couple discover they can’t have children. However, with the assistance of a Dr Stephen Strange, Wanda is able to leverage her powers to make herself pregnant and gives birth to twins Thomas and William. Wanda and Vision decide to rejoin the Avengers on the West Coast, where Vision winds up being kidnapped by rogue government agents and dismantled, deleting his memories in the process. He gets put back together by Pym but after a jealous Wonder Man refuses to donate his brainwaves again, is left a white, cold, emotionless shell of the being he once was. Tragedy struck again when their twins were zapped out of existence by the Master Pandemonium. It’s later revealed that Wanda’s magic miracles were, in fact, fragments of the demon Mephisto who had been using Pandemonium to regain the lost shards of his soul. In a twist of fate many years later, the twins resurface in the form of Teen Avengers Wiccan and Speed in Avengers: The Children’s Crusade.
A distraught Wanda has her memories of the children blocked by her old mentor Agatha Harkness, she and Vision part ways and things start to spiral. In Avengers Disassembled, when some of those painful memories come back, Wanda has a mental breakdown and attacks the Avengers, killing Ant-Man, Hawkeye, and the Vision before Dr Strange halts her tirade with a trance. These traumatic events cause Wanda to dream up a new House of M reality where mutants are the majority. But, things are no better in this universe and Wanda ends up nearly killing off the entire mutant population with the immortal words “No more mutants” before going into hiding in Wundergore.
Both characters have continued to appear throughout the comics with and without each other at their side. In The Children’s Crusade, Scarlet Witch is linked with Doctor Doom before taking him down, and meeting with her supposed reincarnated young superhero son. In a more recent solo series, Vision even dreamt up a wholly different life in suburbia by building an entirely synthetic family complete with pet dog. But like all his attempts for normalcy, the dream was short-lived as his wife and son were dismantled for harming humans, leaving just his daughter Viv. Though, like father like daughter, Viv did go on to become a hero herself by joining the teen group, the Champions.
What does this all mean for WandaVision?
There are many rebirths, time jumps and team-ups to contend with in Wanda and Vision’s complex histories, and given their altered backstory in the MCU, we’re still in the dark about how the pieces will fit together in WandaVision. Details on the series have been limited and save for the footage that debuted recently, we’ve heard very little about what the series might actually entail.
The footage shows Wanda in what looks to be a number of alternate realities, taking on the guise of sitcoms throughout the decades. The first promotional poster centred on a 1950s style with Wanda and Vision sat holding hands in a suburban living room with a shadow looming in the background appearing to depict both characters in their superhero attire. We even catch a glimpse of Wanda in a sort of Halloween costume take on the classic red Scarlet Witch suit and crown.
The show, written by Captain Marvel and Black Widow co-writer Jac Schaeffer, will be set after the events of Avengers: Endgame and tie into the MCU going forward. How Vision gets brought back to life in his 1980s jeans and plaid shirt finery is yet to be explained seeing as he suffered a definitive Avengers: Endgame death that left his fate unaltered by the events of ‘the snap’. But how dead is any character in a comic book universe, really? And given that Vision is an artificial being, there’s a good chance he could be brought back to life somehow without the need for another ‘time heist’. They’ve rebuilt him once before and surely this time one of those geniuses thought to back up his memories on a cloud somewhere?
WANDAVISION is expected to debut on Disney+ January 15th.
[This article was originally published in STARBURST issue 475, released November 2020]