This twist surprised many, including Olsen herself, who admitted it "shocked" her to find out she would be playing a villain role in the 2022 MCU blockbuster.
Despite the dark turn for the character, she looked to have possibly turned back to the side of good by the end of the movie before (supposedly) dying.
The Thinking Behind Wanda's Villainous MCU Turn
Marvel Studios executive Richie Palmer revealed the real reason why Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff turned into an MCU villain in Doctor Strange 2.
Speaking in The Art of Marvel Studios' Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness artbook, Palmer remarked that looking at Wanda's comic history she "doesn’t always do things that are good for everyone around her:"
“At the end of the day, we’re all fans of the comics. And in the comics, the Scarlet Witch - for various reasons - doesn’t always do things that are good for everyone around her. She kills people in the comics. She rewrites reality to her whims."
It was this dark character trait that had the Marvel Studios team saying, "We should really be honoring what she does in the comics" and putting it on the big screen:
"And we always said, ’This character is in our universe - we should really be honoring what she does in the comics because we think it’ll be fun. We think people will want to see it.’"
Harkening back to the tragic events of WandaVision, Palmer added, "To see where she would go after that [series], it might naturally be a darker place:"
"'WandaVision' was a crazy journey for that character. So to see where she would go after that, it might naturally be a darker place. She might not be the happiest person in the world after that show, and we see how the most powerful being in the universe deals with the question of happiness."
The Marvel creative continued, relating where Wanda found herself in Multiverse of Madness to Doctor Strange himself:
"It’s kind of a theme of our movie. Doctor Strange is also dealing with the same thing: You’ve saved the world. You’ve sacrificed for the greater good. But are you happy? This is something that all of our characters really have to confront, and that question takes them to crazy places.
Wanda sees America as a chance to go find happiness out in the Multiverse. And she’s the Scarlet Witch, so it’s going to be hard to stop her from getting what she wants."
Was Elizabeth Olsen's Villain Role a Success?
Now, more than a year after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was initially released, audiences have gotten the chance to take a step back and try to analyze Elizabeth Olsen's MCU villain turn.
At the time of release, a large contingent of fans were furious about the character being the big bad of the Doctor Strange sequel. Because of this, the film has largely suffered in the eye of public consciousness (currently sitting at 73% on Rotten Tomatoes).
Coming off the arc set up by WandaVision, many found Wanda's change from hero to villain as discrediting everything that had just happened in her Disney+ series.
WandaVision director Matt Shakman even spoke up on the subject, calling her Doctor Strange 2 role "an accelerated descent into madness," albeit one he caveated was earned due to the character ending her Disney+ series in possession of dark magic (via the Darkhold):
"Yeah. I mean, it’s an accelerated descent into madness for her, but one that felt earned by the fact that she walked away from ‘WandaVision’ with the Darkhold and the knowledge that she was the Scarlet Witch. The last scene of that show, their tag, is her reading the Darkhold and hearing the voices of her children."
Whether the flipping of this antagonistic switch was a success remains up to the individual to decide, but it is hard to deny the rapidity with which it happened in the Sam Raimi-directed epic.
If audiences do see Olsen's Scarlet Witch again (as she seemingly died at the end of Multiverse of Madness), it seems more than likely she will have some explaining to do after her villainous antics in the Doctor Strange sequel.
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness is streaming now on Disney+.