The Washington Post is gushing over an alleged LGBT fandom for Wanda Maximoff, and the article is predictably a snoozer:
“Wanda tried so hard to be normal,” said [D’Manda] Martini, a 40-year-old government contractor and drag performer in La Plata, Md. “I think that’s also just very relatable.”
The Scarlet Witch’s popularity skyrocketed after her 2021 solo television series “WandaVision” — especially among LGBTQ fans. In interviews with The Washington Post, many say that Wanda’s experiences with loss, her nontraditional romance (with an android) and her search for family resonate with their journeys. As she returns in Marvel Studios’ “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” this week, many have hopes and fears about what she’ll face next.
“From a queer and trans lens, when we look at Wanda, we can see ourselves in her story,” said E. Tejada III, a 37-year-old equity and inclusion educator in Burdett, N.Y. Despite her hardships, “you can see that resilience, that she is still very much moving forward.”
“WandaVision” as a whole was a particular landmark for LGBTQ fans. Video essays on their love for the series have garnered thousands of views on YouTube. Articles abounded covering the MCU debut of Wanda’s son Billy, who is gay in the comics. Supporting character Agatha Harkness became not only the subject of a chart-topping song but also a queer icon in her own right.
Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Wanda, told The Post that she hadn’t known about the connection LGBTQ fans have to the character. “That’s really amazing. I think these stories have an impact in a way that … I somehow don’t [realize],” she said. “I’m so inside them that I don’t really get to step outside.”
It’s honestly laughable how these ideologues obsessively attach themselves to characters they didn’t create, and want to practically remake them according to their own ideologies and practices. So she’s important to LGBT activists, but not to say, the Jewish brethren of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, who created her in 1964? Or even to eastern European citizens? We must be truly missing something here. Add to that how they imply being a mutant/possessing science-fantasy powers is literally and solely equivalent with homosexuality, and you have quite a propaganda vehicle going there.
Wanda isn’t any luckier in the comics. Eleven years after her 1964 debut, she marries Vision and has two children, but through both magic and old-fashioned supervillainy she loses her family and her memories of motherhood. When those memories resurface, an outpouring of grief leads Wanda to kill some of her teammates as well as swaths of mutants — a marginalized, superpowered race. The character has been on a long journey of redemption and healing ever since.
This alludes to Avengers: Disassembled and House of M without even clearly mentioning Brian Michael Bendis and other Marvel Comics staff who brewed up those awful stories, nor are any questions asked whether the storyline as first presented in 2004 was written well or not. Nobody even asks if Wanda should’ve been depicted as a cry-baby in the first place, as was seen back in 1989, when the development of children was reversed, nor whether John Byrne would’ve done better by having her pull together and get over it, and try to find a way to bear real children for real who could replace the illusions that passed for children instead. Most interesting indeed how that doesn’t factor into these discussions.
“She goes through all this trauma,” said Michaela McFarland, a 21-year-old social media content creator in Detroit. “It builds up and it just keeps building where you can relate to her on such a deeper level.”
Wanda does move forward by finding loved ones in superhero teams. But given her past proximity to supervillains in early Marvel comics and her more recent attacks on her teammates and mutants, her allegiance to the good guys is often questioned.
A better idea would be to question why nobody seems disappointed how a character who’d been far from a murderess when she debuted would be reduced to such a repulsive role decades later, nor do they pan Bendis, Joe Quesada, Tom Brevoort and even Dan Buckley for greenlighting such an atrocity. And these are surely the same people who complain about sexism in entertainment. Now, inexplicably, the specific crowd suddenly has no issues when Wanda is depicted as a madwoman in new live action productions. Just what kind of “fans” are these, really?
Joseph Kim, a 24-year-old social media content producer from New York City, said this reminds him of biphobia, transphobia and racism within the LGBTQ community. In Wanda’s story, he said, “you have that same kind of metaphorical gatekeeping of, ‘You are one of us, and yet you’re not one of us.’”
Across comics and films, Wanda receives little support from other characters. The MCU portrays her grieving alone, and in the “House of M” comic-book storyline, other characters consider killing Wanda as she experiences a mental health crisis.
For Brandon Bush, a comic book journalist, this absence of support also mirrors systemic injustices. “When you see people like Wanda who aren’t getting the resources that they need, you relate to that because you see your own communities and them not getting the resources that they need,” Bush said.
The absence of objective criticism for the story itself mirrors systemic falsehoods in alleged fans. How come nobody supports improvements in writing quality for a change?
Still, many LGBTQ fans don’t see the kind of representation they want in the MCU generally. Yes, more LGBTQ superheroes — including Wanda’s own children — have graced comic book pages in recent years, and a same-sex relationship shows up on-screen in “The Eternals.” Olsen was excited for the new “Dr. Strange” sequel to introduce superhero America Chavez (Xochitl Gomez), who is lesbian in the comics and whose same-sex parents are alluded to briefly in the movie. “We need to reflect the world in these films,” she said. “We have such a platform. To not use it in that way would be foolish.”
But many fans still feel such depictions are too rare. Which is why they fill the gap by reading LGBTQ themes and relationships into Marvel films and series — sometimes in ways that deviate from creators’ visions. In addition to relating to Wanda’s hardships, some viewers interpreted interactions in “WandaVision” between Wanda and Agatha as flirting. In other MCU titles, fans see sparks fly between super-soldier Steve Rogers and his best friend Bucky Barnes. And storylines featuring the X-Men — a superhero team that Wanda fought against in her comic book debut — are widely read as queer allegories. Noticing signs of romance between presumably heterosexual characters who express affection for one another has become crucial to their enjoyment of superhero media, they said.
The portrayal of Wanda’s identity has also faced backlash. In the comics, she was long depicted as Jewish — for decades, her father was believed to be X-Men antihero Magneto, who survived the Holocaust. But Marvel later established that Wanda’s father was someone else, effectively stripping her of her Jewish heritage, which angered some fans. She was also raised by a Romani family, but that has not yet made it into the MCU.
Two LGBTQ Romani fans told The Post that Wanda’s comic book appearances were formative for their love of the medium. But they were less thrilled at certain choices creators made in representing her heritage. Jayjay Colley, a 26-year-old teacher outside Boston, said that associating a Romani character with magic feels as if it is continuing a stereotype, and they have found some past Scarlet Witch costumes offensive. They worry the MCU has simply erased Wanda’s Romani identity out of fear of repeating those tropes.
Hmm, this is quite fascinating. Sounds like some subtle anti-sex propaganda made its way into the narrative, perpetuated by LGBT ideologues, no less, and exactly why is it wrong to depict a Romani character practicing magic? By that logic, even characters of Italian descent like Zatara and Zatanna shouldn’t be magicians. Are these really fans, or are they just “public moralists” trying to force their beliefs on somebody else’s creations? And contrary to their awkward allusions to publication history, I don’t think Wanda and Pietro were ever actually portrayed as Jewish per se so much as they were depicted coming from Romani background. Even Magneto’s background may have been simplified as more Romani up till the turn of the century. In any case, it’s shameful anybody would hijack Wanda’s status for the sake of their own insular ideology.
Since we’re on the subject, Bounding Into Comics wrote about the repellent way Wanda’s depicted in the Dr. Strange sequel, which is even worse than Avengers: Disassembled and House of M’s rendition of her:
Wanda’s appearance in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness consists of two full-hours of her murdering dozens of innocent people – some of them with families – while pointing the finger at others and claiming her actions were justified because others have done bad things as well.
The film and its interpretation are a perfect example of what happens to society when people lose the ability to take responsibility for their actions.
Yes, but the tragedy is that the leftists who made it never crafted it as a mirror in which to view their own sorry state of affairs. If they thought they could get away with it, they’d make Wanda into a metaphor for right-wingers.
In Avengers: Infinity War, Strange explains to Tony Stark that out of millions of outcomes, surrendering the Time Stone to Thanos was the only way that the Avengers would win in the end.
By Strange’s own admission, saving Vision was impossible.
But Wanda refuses to accept this and instead copes with this reality by putting the responsibility of Vision’s death on Strange’s shoulders.
This is poor writing on the film’s part, done only to create an easy justification for the conflict between Strange and Wanda that didn’t really exist before.
One of the biggest complaints with WandaVision was, as mentioned above, the fact that Wanda suffered no consequences for kidnapping and torturing a small town for weeks.
The only way to correct this error was for Wanda to turn full heel and become the bad guy in the story.
While to the film’s credit Wanda does make this turn, audiences are continually asked throughout her villainous journey to hand her an emotional ‘Get Out Of Jail Free’ card because – wait for it – she’s been through a lot.
On this, there’s something totally missed here. Do serious fans of Scarlet Witch want her to be a literal villainess at all? One who practically murders people? As a Wanda fan myself, the firm answer is ABSOLUTELY NOT. I can make similar arguments about Jean Grey of the X-Men: if I’m a fan of the lady first known as Marvel Girl in 1963, why would I approve of turning her into a mass slaughterer of an alien civilization, as seen in 1979-80 during the first half of Chris Claremont’s run? Thankfully, that was retconned away a few years later, although what followed with Madelyne Pryor changed into a Goblin Queen as the excuse for phasing her out, was admittedly very awkward. All done because at the time, Jean had to be restored almost immediately to the role of Cyclops’ girlfriend, and not be her own agency. What they really should’ve done was take their time, and if Pryor had to be phased out, they should’ve just had her dying from cloning materials that weren’t holding up well.
And why no consideration Wanda’s a Lee/Kirby creation, and it was never their intention to depict her as a murderess as the movie does? Or that such a rendition dishonors the memory of the two famous creators? If I were Lee or Kirby, I’d be outraged.
To make matters worse, Olsen gave an interview to Hollywood Life (also via Bounding Into Comics) where she seems to be claiming that changing Wanda into a slaughterer was “empowering”:
Elizabeth admitted that she loved embracing this new side of Wanda in the Doctor Strange sequel. “My goal is to always have her have some sort of evolution, and the evolution in this for me was really empowering,” Elizabeth said. “She has a new kind of confidence that we haven’t seen in 8 years, and she’s really not apologizing for anything. She feels very clear in her beliefs. I find it very admirable, and I enjoyed throwing her into this journey of madness. I think it’s okay to play characters that people get frustrated with sometimes. I enjoy that as an actor.”
A characterization where the lady’s turned deadly is “empowering”? See, this is exactly what’s wrong with all these pseudo-feminist ideologies these days – they confuse villainy with happiness and success, explaining perfectly why you see lesbian-like characters such as Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy and Destiny/Mystique regarded as admirable figures despite their crime careers, while male homosexuals get law-abiding portrayals far more often. Is this “empowerment” good for matriarchal figures either, if Wanda’s role is such? No way.
And lest we forget, why isn’t anybody complaining how a reformed crook turned heroine in the comics during the Silver Age is transformed into the role of a lethal villainess in Doctor Strange’s film sequel? Obviously, a lot of the people who’re supposedly fans of the franchise never actually read the comics, and certainly don’t value the characters as storytelling vehicles in the original medium.
Strangely enough, Olsen flip-flopped in another interview with Variety, where the following is told:
What Feige did not reveal — and what Disney carefully obscured in its marketing for the film right up to its release in theaters — is that Wanda doesn’t show up as Strange’s compatriot in “Multiverse of Madness”: She’s the villain.
And that’s the problem long before this movie was produced. The TV show was just the beginning. And then, here’s the part where Olsen seems to have a different view of how they prepared this junk:
How did it feel to kill all of those characters? I mean, I will never get over the image of you snapping Patrick Stewart’s head.
I — I was — I was also supposed to kill more. I had a hard time with it. I was like, these are human beings and Wanda is okay with ending their lives? But I just had to buckle down and think all these people are in her way and she’s warned Doctor Strange not to get in her way. And he did. He didn’t listen. And so I just had to go from that point of view.
Was there a scene that you found especially challenging to play?
I think the hardest thing was — I know we’re doing this interview after it’s released, but I still get anxious talking about it without spoilers. But there’s a moment where I have to snap at people I love, and that was a difficult scene. One of the people that I love — the little people that I love — they were throwing things at me in the scene, and accidentally smacked my face really hard. And that was the best reaction. And I felt so bad that I used it as the actor and let it inform how I responded to these people that I love. Because they were terrified after. It really was something I did not enjoy at all, but I knew it’d be good for the scene.
Odd, that sounds different from what she said about the script being “empowering” in the previous interview. If Wanda’s depicted slaughtering shiploads of innocent people, that’s abominable, and the way the movie goes about all this, it’s exceedingly hard to excuse it, even if Wanda may resurrect the dead bodies by the end. If anything, this screenplay is just insulting to the intellect. I so do not want to watch these overrated movies, which, IMO, even follow a stereotype of making a hot woman into somebody you can’t admire.
It’s most truly disappointing how questions whether it’s in good taste to depict a character like Wanda Maximoff in such a vile way are being ignored here, as is whether this does a service to the memory of Lee/Kirby. Which it most absolutely doesn’t do at all. This new Dr. Strange movie is one of the worst examples of where things are going now that Feige’s in charge of it.
Originally published here.