Here's Why Wanda Turned Evil In the MCU

By David Thompson Posted:
Elizabeth Olsen as evil Wanda Maximoff

Elizabeth Olsen's time as Wanda Maximoff has involved being a villain, Avenger, evil sorcerer, and loving mother. It's safe to say the Scarlet Witch is one of the more complicated characters in the MCU.

Debuting in 2015's Avengers: Age of Ultron, Olsen has been a staple of the MCU as Wanda. The character has now appeared in six different projects, including Disney+ series WandaVision.

When cracks of evil began to take off Wanda during the 2021 series, many fans were still surprised by her antagonistic role in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

However, Wanda's evil-doings far precede turning John Krasinski's Reed Richards into lifeless spaghetti.

Wanda Terrorizes the Avengers

Wanda Maximoff and Tony Stark in Avengers: Age of ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron

In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff's journey begins in the war-torn country of Sokovia, where she and her twin brother, Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), gain superhuman abilities due to HYDRA's experiments. 

The twins initially side with Ultron to avenge their parents' deaths, which they blame on Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) weapons. 

Wanda notably used her abilities for evil during the battle at the Salvage Yard in Africa. She hexed the minds of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Captain America (Steve Rogers), causing them to experience haunting visions. 

She attempted the same on Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) but was thwarted by a taser arrow. Pietro saved her, and despite the pain from the arrow, Wanda proceeded to hex Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), triggering his transformation into the Hulk. This caused a rampage that forced Iron Man to battle the Hulk.

Later in the film, Wanda realizes Ultron's true plan for human extinction by reading the (unborn) Vision's mind.

This causes Wanda and Pietro to turn against Ultron and join the Avengers for the final battle. Wanda's true hero moment comes when Hawkeye tells her, "It doesn't matter what you did... But if you step out that door... you are an Avenger:"

"It doesn't matter what you did, or what you were. If you go out there, you fight, and you fight to kill. Stay in here, you're good. I'll send your brother to come find you. But if you step out that door... you are an Avenger." - Hawkeye

WandaVision Sparks Wanda's Evil Revival

After a relatively heroic journey over the next few years in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame, Vision's loss brought on a new villainous story arc.

In WandaVision, the story's hero is Wanda... from a certain point of view.

One could argue that her behavior, including the mental enslavement of innocent people within her fantasy world and the use of her powers to harm others, qualifies her as a villain. 

Wanda's actions were primarily driven by her grief over Vision's death and SWORD's refusal to release his body. These actions, though rooted in sorrow, manifested in behaviors categorized as villainous.

For further proof, Wanda subjected individuals to mental telepathic torture, mind-controlled soldiers to point their guns at the SWORD director, and used her powers to harm Monica Rambeau, throwing her through walls and attempting to slam her into the ground.

Any moral debate about Wanda's actions during the journey at Westview was quickly trumped by obvious villainy during her next MCU appearance.

Multiverse of Madness Gives Fans the True Scarlet Witch

Wanda Maximoff in Doctor Strange 2
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness

Wanda's descent into true villainy during Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness can be traced back to her desire to reunite with her children (Billy and Tommy) and the corrupting influence of the Darkhold, which accelerated her fall into darkness.

Wanda is convinced the Darkhold holds the key to finding her lost children across the Multiverse. As her desperation intensifies throughout the film, Wanda's actions grow increasingly reckless and self-serving. 

She unleashes monsters and villains from alternate dimensions, leveraging America Chavez's (Xochitl Gomez) unique Multiverse-jumping abilities to help her quest. 

This sets her on a collision course with the Masters of the Mystic Arts but ultimately results in what many would consider Wanda going "too far" and ending up in a place of moral ambiguity.

Is Wanda Still a Villain in the MCU?

At the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Wanda resolves to destroy all copies of the Darkhold to prevent its evil influence from corrupting anyone else. 

After America Chavez closes the portal, leaving Wanda consumed by guilt, she decides to destroy the Darkhold Castle. 

Making peace with Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Wanda declares her responsibility to eliminate the Darkhold's menace. She uses her powers to obliterate the Castle and every Darkhold copy across the Multiverse. 

As the castle collapses, a red burst of magic signals the end of her redemption arc and insinuates her possible death.

This leaves her future in the MCU unknown to fans. In a past interview, Olsen expressed hope that her Wanda will pursue a redemption arc in future MCU projects, teasing the idea that Scarlet Witch is still alive

Similarly, in Marvel Comics, Wanda has a complex journey as both hero and villain. Initially a reluctant supervillain with her brother Quicksilver in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she later became a key member of the Avengers. 

Heading into projects like Avengers 5, Agatha All Along, Doctor Strange 3, or the Vision series, the expectation will be for Wanda to redeem herself (if she is alive).

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- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.