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Why Scarlet Witch's Powers Are Underrated

Since her proper onscreen introduction in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff — AKA Scarlet Witch, although she has not officially been assigned that moniker yet in the Marvel Cinematic Universe — has had fans just a bit confused about her power set. In that film, Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) was shown to basically be able to enchant people, showing them visions and briefly causing them to lose their grasp on reality. She was also shown to have the ability to... well, generate red, flame-y balls of energy, which is pretty cool if not exactly among the most formidable of powers.

With Wanda's reaction to the death of her brother Pietro, however, Age of Ultron hinted at one of the most volatile aspects of her powers: they're directly tied to her emotions, and much like one of her big, green peers, they get more potent the more worked up she becomes. They've also proven to be a bit difficult for her to control, as we saw when she accidentally redirected a massive explosion toward a civilian target in the opening moments of Captain America: Civil War.

These aspects of Wanda's power set are going to become a heck of a lot more relevant as the MCU moves into its fourth and fifth phases. This is because, in her comics incarnation, the Scarlet Witch doesn't simply spook people with walking nightmares and lob balls of ethereal energy at her opponents. No, Wanda is one of the Marvel universe's most pre-eminent users of magic — specifically, of "Chaos Magic," which allows her to affect probability fields on scales large and small.

What this means in practice is that Wanda is able to literally bend reality to her will. She's capable of completely rewriting history, of removing entire planes of reality from existence; she is, in short, one of the single most powerful characters in all of Marvel lore, and we've gotten some pretty strong indications that the MCU version of the Scarlet Witch is about to discover just how powerful she really is. This could be totally awesome — and it could also destroy the MCU as we know it.

What people think Scarlet Witch's powers are

What we've seen out of the Scarlet Witch in the MCU so far is not the tip of the iceberg; it is the tip of the tip of the iceberg. When introduced in Age of Ultron, Wanda didn't even really know how to fight, and she was far from confident in her abilities — despite her being perfectly capable of disabling every one of Ultron's killer robots all on her own, it took a (freakin' sweet) pep talk from Hawkeye and the death of her brother for her to unleash her power.

Of course, since that time — and even since the Civil War-opening debacle which dealt another massive setback to her self-confidence — it's been implied that she's undergone the Captain America-approved Avengers combat training, and it seems that her relationship with Vision had given her a great deal more control over her emotions, and therefore, her powers of energy manipulation.

In Avengers: Infinity War, she used these powers to physically destroy an Infinity Stone, which we weren't even sure was possible. In Avengers: Endgame, she took on the Mad Titan Thanos all by her lonesome — and almost defeated him. Clearly, she's getting a handle on these abilities — and if they were the only abilities she had, she'd still be well on her way to become one of the most ridiculously formidable heroes in the MCU. However, Wanda's reality-warping powers haven't even come into play yet... but they're about to, and something tells us it's going to take every last trick in the bag of the Sorcerer Supreme himself, Doctor Strange, to keep her from turning the entire universe — heck, the entire multiverse — inside out.

What Scarlet Witch's powers really are

Our first major clue that this is the case comes from the upcoming Disney+ limited series Wandavision, which will reunite Scarlet Witch with her android beau, the Vision — who, you will probably remember from the intensely traumatic conclusion of Infinity War, is absolutely, irrevocably dead. The show's promotional materials seem to indicate that it will take place at least partially in an idyllic, '50s-style setting — and the rumor that's been going around since the show was announced is that it will actually take place in an alternate universe of Wanda's creation.

Of course, these types of endeavors have a way of screwing with the natural order of things (we should know; don't get us started on that time we tried to create a pocket universe, it was a total disaster). Marvel Studios has let us know that the events of Wandavision will lead directly into the sequel to Doctor Strange, which will co-star Olsen — and if you're thinking she's going to be along for a friendly, buddy comedy ride in the vein of Mark Ruffalo's appearance as Bruce Banner in Thor: Ragnarok, think again.

We only say this because the flick's official title is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and once again, we have the distinct feeling that the good doctor is going to be up to his greying sideburns in weirdness brought on by Wanda's tampering with reality. It's even been speculated that the Witch's incursions into other universes could serve as a pretty neat plot device through which to introduce the X-Men and/or Fantastic Four to the MCU, which would be a pretty neat reversal of one of the character's most famous comic arcs, which drove the narrative of the event known as House of M.

During this event, Wanda (who, it should be noted, is a mutant in the comics) created a new universe ruled over by mutants, which led to some serious cognitive dissonance among those who retained trace memories of the old reality, such as Wolverine. Once Wanda's meddling was revealed, she was taken to task by Professor Xavier — so, she helpfully restored reality to its previous state while depowering 90% of the mutants in existence, a cataclysmic event known as "M-Day." She did this by uttering three simple words: "No more mutants."

Wanda Maximoff, you see, is much more than freaky visions and swirling balls of energy. She's capable of literally breaking the multiverse with her powers of reality manipulation, and as she is not exactly the most emotionally stable individual, she could constitute a grave threat to the Marvel Cinematic Universe once these powers start to manifest in earnest. 

It's not yet clear the extent to which Wanda's growing powers will inform the overarching narrative of the MCU's Phase 4 and beyond, but we don't have long to wait to find out. Wandavision will land on Disney+ in the spring of 2021, and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will hit theaters on May 7, 2021.