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Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch
Art by Frank Cho.
Publication information
PublisherMarvel Comics
First appearanceThe X-Men #4 (March 1964)
Created byStan Lee
Jack Kirby
In-story information
Alter egoWanda Maximoff
SpeciesHuman Mutant
Team affiliations
Notable aliasesWanda Frank, Ana Maximoff, Wanda Magnus
AbilitiesProbability manipulation
Reality warping
Chaos Magic

The Scarlet Witch (Wanda Maximoff) is a fictional comic book superhero that appears in books published by Marvel Comics. The character first appeared in X-Men #4 (March 1964) and was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. She 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. Within the Marvel Universe, Scarlet Witch is a mutant, born with the ability to alter reality in unspecific ways. She is the twin sister of Quicksilver and the daughter of Magneto as well as the paternal half-sister of Polaris.

The Scarlet Witch was ranked 97th in Wizard's "200 Greatest Comic Book Characters of All Time" list[1] and 14th in Comics Buyer's Guide's "100 Sexiest Women in Comics" list.[2] The character has also appeared in other Marvel-endorsed products such as animated films; arcade and video games; television series and merchandise such as action figures and trading cards. Elizabeth Olsen portrays the Scarlet Witch in a mid-credits scene in the Marvel Studios film Captain America: The Winter Soldier and will reprise the role in Avengers: Age of Ultron as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Publication history

File:X-Men 4 March 1964.jpg
The first appearance of Scarlet Witch (center right), on the cover of X-Men #4 (March 1964).

The Scarlet Witch debuted, together with her brother, Quicksilver, as a part of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants in X-Men #4 (March 1964).[3] After several appearances as a villain in issues #5 (May 1964); #6 (July 1964); #7 (Sept. 1964); and #11 (May 1965), Wanda and her brother were added to the cast of the superhero team the Avengers in Avengers #16 (May 1965).[4] The Scarlet Witch was a semi-regular member of the team until issue #49 (Feb. 1968), and then returned in issue #75 (April 1970) and was a perennial member of both the main team and several affiliated teams such as the West Coast Avengers and Force Works until Avengers #503 (Dec. 2004), the final issue of the first volume. Upon her return to the Avengers she was given a long-running love interest in the form of fellow Avenger the Vision. Writer Roy Thomas recounted, "I felt that a romance of some sort would help the character development in The Avengers, and the Vision was a prime candidate because he appeared only in that mag... as did Wanda, for that matter. So they became a pair, for just such practical considerations."[5] The two characters were married in Giant-Size Avengers #4 (June 1975).[6]

Thomas's successor on The Avengers, Steve Englehart, considerably expanded the Scarlet Witch's powers, adding genuine sorcery to her mutant "hex" power. He later explained, "Having decided she would be a full-fledged player, she then naturally developed a more assertive personality, and I wanted to know more about her rather vaguely defined powers since she’d be using them more. I could certainly have pushed her more toward the mutant end of the spectrum, but the name ‘Witch’ seemed like it could be more than just a superhero nom de guerre, so I went that way."[5]

The character made occasional guest-appearances in other Marvel titles such as Marvel Team-Up #41-44 (Jan.-April 1976),[7] and Marvel Fanfare #6 (Jan. 1983).[8] The Scarlet Witch starred in two limited series with husband and fellow Avenger the Vision: Vision and the Scarlet Witch #1 - 4 (Nov. 1982 - Feb. 1983), by writer Bill Mantlo and penciller Rick Leonardi,[9] and a second volume of the same title numbered #1 - 12 (Oct. 1985 - Sept. 1986), written by Englehart and penciled by Richard Howell.[10] Howell later wrote, penciled, inked, lettered, and colored a Scarlet Witch solo story which appeared in Marvel Comics Presents #60-63 (Oct.-Nov. 1990). A solo limited series, titled Scarlet Witch, ran four issues in 1994.[11] A one-shot titled Mystic Arcana Scarlet Witch was published in October 2007[12] and an Avengers Origins: The Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver one-shot followed in January 2012.[13]

Artist George Pérez designed a new costume with a strong Roma influence for the character in 1998.[14] This design has rarely been used by artists other than Pérez. Alan Davis stated that when he became the artist on The Avengers, he "asked to change the Scarlet Witch just because I didn't feel the design George Pérez created worked with my drawing style. I tend to go for simpler, more open lines and don't do lots of detail in rendering."[15]

The character played a pivotal role in the Avengers Disassembled storyline and related limited series House of M, and appeared in the Young Avengers follow-up series, Avengers: The Children's Crusade.

Don Markstein asserts that the character is unlike any other, stating, "The Scarlet Witch is unique among superheroes, and not just because she's the only one who wears a wimple. Her super power is unlike any other — she can alter probability so as to cause mishaps for her foes. In other words, she 'hexes' them." [16]

The Scarlet Witch is a regular character in Uncanny Avengers (2012), beginning with issue #1.

Fictional character biography

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 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 to Robert Frank (the Whizzer) that the twins were his sons, but he flees because of the shock from the death of his wife.[17] The High Evolutionary places them instead in the care of the Romani Django and Marya Maximoff, who raise the twins as their own children. The twins are forced to flee a mob when Wanda uses her powers to protect herself and accidentally causes a fire that kills their adoptive Roma mother.[18] 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.[3][19] Magneto is abducted by the cosmic entity Stranger, the Brotherhood dissolves and the twins declare that their debt to Magneto has been paid.[20]

The Avengers

File:Avengers 16 May 1965.jpg
Cover of Avengers #16 (May 1965), featuring the debut of Scarlet Witch (center left) in The Avengers.

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".[4][21]

Wanda is accidentally shot on a mission against Magneto. Quicksilver rejoins Magneto and leaves the Avengers with his wounded sister.[22] After a pair of encounters with the X-Men, the twins left Magneto, but do 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.[23][24]

Quicksilver later returns to the Avengers and advises them that Wanda has been kidnapped and taken to another dimension by the warlord Arkon.[25][26] 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.[27] 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.[27] Despite this, the pair eventually marry with the blessing of the entire team.[6][28]

The Scarlet Witch begins to be tutored by a true witch, Agatha Harkness, which allows her even greater control over her hexes.[29] Wanda and Pietro also meet Robert Frank, who believes them to be his children.[30] 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.[17][31] 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.[32] The Scarlet Witch and the Vision take a leave of absence from the Avengers,[33] and she conceives the twin boys named Thomas and William. As the Vision is an android, she got pregnant using magic.[34] Wanda gives birth,[35] and, with the Vision, eventually leaves the east coast to join the West Coast Avengers.[36]

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.[37][38] Another personal setback follows when it is revealed that Wanda's children are in fact missing shards of the soul of the demon Mephisto.[39][40] 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.[40] 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.[41]

File:Quicksilver avengers.jpg
Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch discover their origin in Avengers #185 (July 1979). Art by George Pérez and Terry Austin.

Immortus's actions leave Wanda's hex power drained and highly unreliable,[42] which was fixed by Agatha Harkness and Doctor Strange.[43] Wanda is then nominated as leader of the Avengers West Coast team.[44] When the team is dissolved,[45] Wanda leads a new one called Force Works.[46][47] The team suffers several setbacks, including the death of Wonder Man on the first mission.[48] When the team splinters after the last mission involving Kang the Conqueror,[49] the Scarlet Witch and Hawkeye return to the main team.[50]

The Vision and Scarlet Witch reconcile shortly before sacrificing themselves with the other Avengers and the Fantastic Four to stop the mutant villain Onslaught.[51] Due to the intervention of Franklin Richards, Scarlet Witch and her teammates exist in a parallel universe for a year,[52] until being returned to the mainstream universe.[53]

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.[54] Wanda temporarily resurrects Wonder Man, and the Vision is damaged in the final battle when Le Fay.[55][56][57][58] 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.[59] The Vision is eventually repaired and once Wonder Man breaks up with Wanda,[60] they resume their relationship.[61] 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.[62][63][64]

Reality warping era

Main articles: Avengers Disassembled, House of M, and Decimation (comics)

Variant cover to House of M #1 (June 2005)
Art by Joe Quesada and Danny Miki.

Wanda hears the Wasp mock her ambitions for motherhood, only to find herself missing her memories of ever having had children.[65][66] 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.[67] 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.[66]

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.[68][69] 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".[70] When Magneto discovers what Quicksilver did, he murders him. Wanda resurrects him and, enraged with her father, depowers 90% of the mutant population,[71] including Magneto and Quicksilver. She retires to Wundagore, to live a secluded normal life.[72] Both Beast and a resurrected Hawkeye met her during this time.[73][74]


The Children's Crusade

Wiccan and Speed from the Young Avengers thought themselves to be reincarnations of the lost children of the Scarlet Witch, and try to locate her. Magneto, Quicksilver (whose powers had been restored) and the Avengers try to locate her as well. They find her in Latveria, amnesiac and engaged to Doctor Doom.[volume & issue needed] Iron Lad rescues the team and Wanda, teleporting them into the past, where Wanda regains her memory. When the group returns to the present, the Scarlet Witch tries to commit suicide.[75] Wiccan then tells her that her father and brother are alive, and that he is her reincarnated son. She returns with Dr. Doom, seeking his help to undo the spell that erased mutant powers, but Doom manages to steal the reality warping power for himself.[67] He becomes omnipotent, but Wanda and Wiccan steal his newfound powers.[76] She does not return to the Avengers, and stays for some time in solitude.[77]

Avengers vs. X-Men

The Scarlet Witch returns to the Avengers during the events of Avengers vs. X-Men.[78] Ms. Marvel and Spider-Woman offer her a return to the Avengers. Although she is initially reluctant, she accepts and follows them to Avengers Mansion. Despite both heroines pleading her case, the Vision angrily snaps at Wanda, blaming her again for having manipulated and killed him, and telling her to leave. Ms. Marvel and Iron Man rush to Wanda's defense, the Avengers defer their decision to the Vision, who elects to stand by his point, even if obviously pained by the situation. Ms. Marvel carries away a crying Wanda.[79] When the Avengers go to extract Hope Summers from Utopia and are nearly defeated by a Phoenix Force-empowered Cyclops, the Scarlet Witch arrives and saves them. Hope agrees to go with the Scarlet Witch. Wanda causes physical harm to Cyclops when he touches her arm when he tries to stop her from taking Hope.[80]

Though hunted by the Phoenix-powered X-Men, Wanda's return to the team provides the Avengers a much needed boost as many teammates are captured by the X-Men. Hawkeye ultimately is severely injured rescuing Wanda from being teleported away by Magik and White Queen, the former of which sees Wanda as a monster for depowering mutantkind. Wanda's power provides the X-Men with a threat that not even the Phoenix can face down as the Avengers employ magical illusions to trick the X-Men into thinking Wanda is with the various Avengers groups. Further investigation meanwhile links Wanda's powers to the Phoenix Force. When Cyclops goes Dark Phoenix, Wanda and Hope Summers, who is mimicking Wanda's powers, defeat him and cause the phoenix force to leave him. After Hope inherits the Phoenix Force, she and Wanda combine their powers to apparently destroy the Phoenix by saying "No more Phoenix". This results in the repowering of mutants, undoing Wanda's actions on M-Day.[81]

Uncanny Avengers

Following the war, Captain America selects Scarlet Witch to join the Avengers Unity Squad, a new team of Avengers composed of both classic Avengers and X-Men.[82] After that, she asked her close friends Janet Van Dyne and Wonder Man to join and sponsor the new team.[83] In Uncanny Avengers #14, she meets her apparent death at the hands of her teammate Rogue, who had absorbed Wolverine's powers.[84] This death is eventually undone when the surviving Unity Squad are projected back in time, having learned that Rogue was manipulated by the Apocalypse Twins into killing Wanda, allowing the Avengers to band together and defeat an approaching Celestial.[volume & issue needed]

Powers and abilities

The Scarlet Witch is a mutant who had the ability to manipulate probability via her "hexes" (often manifesting physically as "hex spheres" or "hex bolts"). These hexes are relatively short range, and are 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 and, 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 to undo previous hexes. Early in her career, her 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 that her powers 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 and 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 inter-dimensional warlord Dormammu,[85] the robot Ultron to short circuit,[86] or a gas main underneath the Brotherhood of Mutants to explode.[87] Wanda is an expert combatant having been trained by both Captain America and Hawkeye, as well as being an adept tactician due to her years of experience working as an Avenger and her experience in a variety of combat situations. 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.[88]

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.[59] 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.[59]

In House of M, her power was depicted as sufficient to rewrite her entire universe,[89] and cause multiverse-threatening ripples.[90] 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.[67] 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.[76]

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.[91] Although this becomes less effective as the Phoenix Force portions are divided among those who have not yet been defeated.[volume & issue needed] 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.[volume & issue needed]

Other versions

Age of Apocalypse

During the Age of Apocalypse storyline, the Scarlet Witch is a member of Magneto's version of the X-Men, dying to defend the X-Men's base on Wundagore Mountain and the students within it from an attack by Nemesis while the rest of the team was busy thwarting Apocalypse's attempts to take control of a nuclear missile stockpile, her last words being to ask the newly arrived Rogue to take care of her father.[92] Wanda is briefly cloned in Uncanny X-Force #19.1 to repeat the "no more mutants" spell and end the war between humans and the Akkaba forces. But the spell does not go well. Only Jean and the other mutants near are depowered, but Weapon X remains powered.[volume & issue needed]

Heroes Reborn

The Scarlet Witch is one of the Avengers participating in the defeat of the entity Onslaught, and is subsequently trapped in the Heroes Reborn universe. In this artificial reality, with her mutant heritage non-existent, Wanda was raised by Agatha Harkness, with the Asgardian sorceress the Enchantress falsely claiming to be her mother.[93]


The title Exiles features an alternate version from Earth-8823 with the call sign "Witch". The character joins the inter-dimensional superhero team[94] but is killed in action, and is replaced - without the knowledge of her team mates - by yet another alternate version of herself.[95]

Marvel 1602

In Marvel 1602, Sister Wanda and her brother, Petros, are followers of Enrique, High Inquisitor of the Spanish Catholic Church.[96]

Marvel Noir

In the limited series X-Men Noir, Wanda Magnus is a wealthy socialite and the daughter of Chief of Detectives Eric Magnus.[97]

Marvel Zombies

In the Marvel Zombies storyline, an alternate universe version of the Scarlet Witch helps Ash find the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis. Wanda is eventually attacked, hunted down and infected by the zombified vigilante the Punisher.[98] She reappears, still "zombified" in the third installment in the series, Marvel Zombies 3. She works with the Kingpin, using the Vision - who was still in love with her - to block any type of enemy radio signals as necessary. She (and the other zombies) was later confronted by Machine Man, and Jocasta, who decided to save the Vision and finally kill the zombie Kingpin. At yet one point, zombie Scarlet Witch is decapatitated by Machine Man's temporary chainsaw limb and was ripped apart in the zombie pile where Machine Man and Jocasta are victorious.[99]


An older version of the Scarlet Witch appears in the MC2 title A-Next, having been placed in a coma during the original Avengers final battle as part of an attempt to save Iron Man.[100] She was captured, revived, and brainwashed by Loki as part of his plan to corrupt various heroes to avenge himself upon the Avengers, but eventually returned to her normal mindset.[101] She has made sporadic appearances in the MC2 universe since then.

File:Scarlet Witch Ultimate.jpg
The Ultimate Scarlet Witch on the cover of Ultimate Power #6 (Sep. 2007). Art by Greg Land.

Ultimate Marvel

In the Ultimate Marvel imprint title Ultimates, the Scarlet Witch and her brother Quicksilver defect from Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutant Supremacy, to the Ultimates in exchange for the release of imprisoned Brotherhood members. The twin siblings also share an incestuous relationship.

In the third volume of Ultimates 3, Scarlet Witch is killed by a lovesick Ultron which later turned out to be orchestrated by Doctor Doom.[102] She is shown to be alive in Wundagore together with Teddy (Blob's other mutant child), Quicksilver and Mystique.[103] However she (and her father's reappearance in Egypt) are revealed to be illusions by Apocalypse.[104]

The Ultimate version's powers differ from the mainstream version in that the character has to "do the math" in order to use her powers — she must calculate the mathematical probability that the effect she intends to create will actually happen, with the more unlikely the effect, the more complex the mathematical formula.[105]

What If?

Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch appear in the What If? story "What If the X-Men Died on their First Mission?" as allies of Beast following the demise of the X-Men and upon the menace by Count Nefaria and his Ani-Men. Although invited to join the newly formed team upon the success of their mission, both decline in favor of their current commitments, although they promise their aid if they are needed.[106]

In other media



File:Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch.jpg
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (left) and Elizabeth Olsen (right) as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in the 2015 film, Avengers: Age of Ultron.

Video games




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