WandaVision Continues The MCU's X-Men Retcon | Screen Rant
WandaVision's latest episode finally reveals the true nature of the MCU's Scarlet Witch, continuing the retcon of her powers from X-Men lore.
's retcon of Scarlet Witch's powers and connection to the X-Men is almost complete. Everyone hates reruns, but WandaVision delivers a worthy trip down memory lane in episode 8 thanks to the magical prowess of Agatha Harkness. After spending the past week going viral with her smash hit theme song, Agatha was all business upon her return, revealing her true intentions for Elizabeth Olsen's character. Wanda is entirely responsible for the Westview Hex and the return of Vision, while Agatha has merely been meddling in an attempt to discover the secret to Wanda's power. Still without answers, Agatha uses a memory spell to explore Wanda's past.
Taking in scenes from Wanda's Sokovian childhood with Pietro, her early days with the Avengers, and her post- return, Kathryn Hahn's devious witch finally discovers what makes Wanda tick. Over the course of Agatha's probing, the audience learn why Wanda chose Westview (she and Vision were planning to settle there) and why her fake reality takes the form of a sitcom (because she loved them as a child). Episode 8's most important revelation, however, is the true source of Scarlet Witch's magical power.
From the moment Wanda Maximoff was introduced into the MCU, her origin story deviated sharply from the Marvel comic books. Some suspected WandaVision would bring the MCU's Scarlet Witch more in line with her comic counterpart; instead, the Disney+ series simultaneously takes her away from and closer to the source material.
Elizabeth Olsen debuted alongside her on-screen brother in the post-credits scene of , before the Maximoff siblings made their first appearance proper in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Disillusioned and orphaned by ongoing war in Sokovia, Wanda and Pietro were radicalized and used as test subjects by HYDRA's Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who had obtained Loki's staff and the Mind Stone embedded within it. According to Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda and Pietro were just regular humans until Strucker's experiments with the Mind Stone gave them both supernatural powers. To paraphrase Maria Hill, he's fast and she's weird. The Maximoffs' origins continued the MCU trend of using Infinity Stones to explain superpowers, with Captain Marvel, Vision and (partially) Doctor Strange all exploiting the colorful gems.
WandaVision's recent "clip show" proves that the Maximoff twins' misguided dalliance with HYDRA still happened, but rather than making the ancient rock solely responsible for Wanda's red magic, the Agatha-induced flashbacks put Scarlet Witch's superpowers in a completely different context.
Whereas Scarlet Witch's powers were previously rooted in Infinity Stone mythology, they're now firmly occupying the realm of witchcraft, and WandaVision episode 8 offers the MCU's closest look yet at that topic. Past WandaVision episodes already hinted that Scarlet Witch's affinity for magic ran deeper than simply biological tampering at the hands of HYDRA. Upon her dramatic reveal, Agatha gleefully informed Wanda she wasn't the only "magical girl" in town, and her purple spells are eerily similar in style to Wanda's red hexes, leaving the door ajar for a retcon. Episode 8 kicks that door down completely with a flashback to 17th century Salem.
Here, it's revealed that witchcraft is practiced in secret by covens of witches who have a moral code, an organizational structure, and presumably meet on Tuesdays for tea and curses. Since Agatha's mother is the head witch, we can assume that affinity for magic is passed down within families, but as Agatha solemnly begs the other sorceresses to teach her, these skills clearly require proper training to harness fully. Agatha's mother also confirms that different shades of magic exist, from dark to light, simple to complex. Agatha Harkness herself is evidently born with great skill in witchcraft, and is unable to control that strength during her younger years in Salem. She doesn't even consciously overwhelm the coven members - her purple magic takes over automatically when the execution begins.
The MCU's witches almost certainly fall within the same ballpark as the mystic arts practiced by Doctor Strange and his fellow sorcerers. Visually, the spells are quite different, and the Ancient One never mentioned anything about covens, but the abilities themselves, the talk of forbidden knowledge, and the emphasis on training are all reminiscent of Strange's world. This is likely no coincidence, as Elizabeth Olsen is set to feature in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse of Madness.
When WandaVision episode 8 begins, Scarlet Witch believes, much like the audience, that her powers are the result of the Mind Stone. At the very least, that's what she's telling herself. Through Agatha's memory walk, WandaVision unveils a much fuller explanation.
Agatha speculates that Wanda was actually born with a certain degree of magical potential. Not only does Wanda survive the blast that kills her parents, but she somehow stops Stark's bomb from exploding, clearly suggesting an untapped ability many years before her exposure to the Mind Stone. Perhaps her mother descended from another ancient coven and the talent passed on through generations. Agatha also believes that Wanda's hidden power would've faded away harmlessly if it wasn't nurtured.
This is where WandaVision dovetails Scarlet Witch's initial Infinity Stone origin with the more recent addition of witches. After witnessing Wanda's childhood and her time as a captive of HYDRA, Agatha ascertains that Wanda's latent potential for witchcraft resonated with Loki's scepter and augmented her magic, giving rise to the Scarlet Witch as MCU fans know her.
WandaVision then goes further, revealing the secret of Westview's creation isn't the Mind Stone at all, but a mixture of Wanda's extreme grief and her apparent status as "a Scarlet Witch." Although Agatha's accusation isn't unpacked fully in episode 8, it seems Wanda Maximoff is a rare, mythical breed of witch who possesses unique and potent powers beyond that of your average broom rider.
In the Marvel comic books, Scarlet Witch is initially introduced as a mutant, born with superpowers by virtue of being Magneto's secret daughter. In this sense, Wanda is just like any other character in the X-Men series, and there's not an Infinity Stone in sight. Although being a mutant is Scarlet Witch's traditional comic book origin, the "M" word was strictly taboo when Elizabeth Olsen first arrived in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Fox still held the rights to X-Men, and the Infinity Stones provided a more fitting (and more legal) explanation for Wanda and Pietro's abilities in 2015.
Since Professor X and the gang have now returned to the Marvel fold, many expected WandaVision to make Scarlet Witch's MCU backstory more authentic. Some also suspected that Wanda's would be retconned into the franchise's first official mutant but, alas, episode 8 officially rules out this X-planation. WandaVision does prove that Wanda was special even before being supercharged by the Mind Stone, but she's a natural born witch rather than a mutant.
For many years, the Marvel comics presented Wanda Maximoff as a mutant, but that origin was rewritten in 2014, beginning with James Robinson's Scarlet Witch run. Previously, Wanda's powers incorporated mutant elements with more mystic sources, such as the God Chthon, who imparted his magic into Wanda at birth. From 2014 onward, the mutant aspect of Wanda's comic story was dropped in favor of making her a pure sorceress, drawing great power from older generations of the Scarlet Witch instead. The retcon was certainly controversial, and many fans still consider Wanda the mutant daughter of Magneto, since that's her most enduring and popular origin, but regardless, Wanda's comic powers are now entirely magic-based.
WandaVision is moving away from Scarlet Witch's mutant backstory in favor of the 2010s' comic retcon. Agatha Harkness demonstrates that, despite an Infinity Stone-shaped bump in the road, Wanda's magic came from within. Agatha also suggests that, just like the source material, there's a long line of Scarlet Witches and Warlocks that Wanda Maximoff is the most recent incarnation of. Meanwhile, the introduction of Chaos Magic brings another comic concept into the MCU, and while there's no mention of Chthon in WandaVision just yet, it is Agatha Harkness who teaches Wanda how to harness Chaos Magic in the comics. It may be no coincidence that Kathryn Hahn's villain is the first one to recognize Wanda Maximoff's true nature in the MCU.
More: WandaVision: Every MCU Easter Egg In Episode 8