Being a superhero goes hand in hand with using superpowers to make a difference. Characters can start off with a set of powers that evolve over time. The Scarlet Witch is a character whose abilities have changed on a regular basis, growing from ill-defined ‘hex powers’ to being able to alter reality. Wanda Maximoff’s powers are as fluid as her backstory, which has been retconned more than once. Nevertheless, her abilities are intriguing and The Comic Vault is taking a closer look into the nature of her power set.
When Scarlet Witch was first introduced she was given hex powers that allowed her to cause random events to occur. This was at odds with her status as a mutant, due to her name being more closely associated with witchcraft. Her powers were chosen in order to give creative freedom to a writer, as they could be used for any purpose. Wanda was given a mentor in the form of Agatha Harkness, who taught her how to control the magical aspects of her abilities. Her event changing abilities manifested in causing an artefact called the Evil Eye to work against the demon Dormammu, as well as cause Ultron to short circuit.
Scarlet Witch’s powers were defined by writer Kurt Busiek. They became linked to chaos magic, which was activated by the demon Chnthon changing her mutation at birth. The chaos magic was used to explain away the times that Wanda had been able to go beyond probability manipulation. Geoff Johns expanded on the chaos magic even more by allowing Wanda to cast more powerful spells, such as resurrecting Wonder Man.
The next retcon occurred during House of M, with Scarlet Witch gaining the power to warp reality. After having a mental breakdown, Wanda altered reality to bring about a world where everyone’s fondest wishes came true. When reality returned to normal, Wanda wiped out a large number of the mutant populace. During The Children’s Crusade, her powers were retconned back to being able to control chaos magic, with previous events being linked to an outside force that increased her powers.
In the most recent Scarlet Witch series, written by James Robinson, it’s been confirmed that Wanda was born with the ability to use witchcraft. This has altered her into being more of a traditional witch, as women within her family have displayed the same abilities. Recent stories have shown Wanda being manipulated by The High Evolutionary and she believed that he genetically altered her, which made her more receptive to magical energy.
In my opinion, Robinson has created the most well-rounded version of Scarlet Witch. By putting her more in tune with magic, Robinson has made her more relatable because her powers are better defined. Scarlet Witch has chosen to fix the broken magic within the world, reaching out to other members of the supernatural community for help. It’s given her a purpose and allowed her to confront her mental health issues.
Through the years, Scarlet Witch has been through a lot. Her everchanging story is a good reminder of how there is never any constant in life. It’s always changing and Wanda has changed for the better.