I have never been severely afflicted with what my friend affectionately calls “The Maximoff Family Feels.” I’m a devout ‘X-Men’ fan, lover of the ‘Young Avengers’, and in the Quicksilver fanclub, so with those three things I feel as I have some modicum of “the feels” for Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch.
For those of you who may not be as steeped in ‘X-Men’ culture, I will explain what this means. For those who are, please feel free to skip ahead.
The Maximoffs are the family of Magneto. Generally, it refers to him, and his twin kids, Pietro (Quicksilver) and Wanda (Scarlet Witch). Sometimes, people will include their half-sibling, Lorna Dane (Polaris), and the pseudo-grand-kids Billy Kaplan (Wiccan) and Tommy Shepherd (Speed). As you can expect from a family sprung from a super villain, and populated by codependent twins (one of which has some truly fearsome reality-warping powers), and two overpowered teenagers that have a very bizarre parentage, there are a lot of complications with the family. Dare I say, a lot of “feels.”
And they are making their way to the big screen. Well, at least Wanda and Pietro are, courtesy of ‘The Avengers: Age of Ultron.’ Unfortunately, I have enough of the “feels” that this worries me.
Initially, I was excited to see the Maximoff twins hit the Marvel screen. After all, due to complicated contracts concerning the ‘X-men’ being owned by Fox, it was unlikely we were going to see any of those characters soon (I’m still waiting for Gambit done the right way). But God bless loop holes, and God bless the first two X-Men to join the movie Avengers– because in another world where Marvel owned the movie rights to ‘X-men,’ that first X-Men introduced in the Marvel films would probably be Wolverine… and lord, the world does not need more Wolverine.
Firstly, the two characters have a significant portion of their background removed from them, their Roma and Jewish heritage cast aside for two actors who are talented,
but definitely of neither origin. So this begs the question: will their backstory be erased?
(CORRECTION: We’ve edited the statement above thanks to some very astute readers who have informed us that Aaron Taylor-Johnson is indeed Jewish. Our apologies.)
Oh, it turns out yes. Aaron Tyler Johnson (Quicksilver) said, “Yeah, [Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver] volunteer to HYDRA to be experimented on and then they become enhanced so that’s where their powers come from.”
So, basically, two Jewish/Romani characters who were persecuted for their heritage in the comic books will be volunteering to work with HYDRA… a neo-nazi organization. Is no one else raising eyebrows about this? I feel like eyebrows need to be raised.
At the very least, this is a promising first step in a series of a steps in the wrong directions because frankly, the more I read about these characters, the more I think they are going to be Original Characters with similar powers and the same gender as Maximoffs I know and love.
We need look no further than Wanda to see this, as it looks as if she will be the typical Joss-Whedon-uber-powered waif we see in so many of his productions. Her similarities to River Tam from ‘Firefly’, from her baby doll dress and bulky boots, to what looks like a slipping mind makes her feel more like a Joss Whedon character than the one we knew from Marvel.
Above, you’ll see Wanda from ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier‘, looking crazed as she uses her infinite powers of reality warping to play with blocks. Indeed, Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff) has described her as a “messed-up woman” and “incredible and absolutely out of her mind”, which doesn’t really bode well for Scarlet Witch’s characterization.
The thing is, yes, Wanda Maximoff has a history of mental illness. But what this photo and Olsen’s comments suggest to me is that this Scarlet Witch will be a caricature of a mental illness and will not show the complexity her character has.
Scarlet Witch has a long history in the comics, where she is so much more than what her mental illness makes her. She is defined by her heritage, her codependent relationship with her twin brother, her time with the Brotherhood, her relationship with Vision, her powers, and who she innately is, which is a fundamentally a decent human being.
Now it pains me to close this with saying that I am not condemning the film because I believe you should be critical of the things you love without people jumping down your throat. But these are the times we live in. I will be at this movie opening night to see two characters I love on the big screen, but I am concerned about what I will see considering what I know about them so far. We shall have to see if they are as problematic as they look on paper.