Tag Archives: madness

The Art of Probability Manipulation

The Scarlet Witch

Hello, Marvel Writers!

This time I am writing with questions about the Scarlet Witch.  As I once wrote before, so I question again: why did Wanda Maximoff lose her mind and attack the Avengers?

I am fully aware that the strain between her and her husband, the Vision, was a factor.  I am also aware of the loss of her ‘children’ (adoption would have been a much better channel for the story) being a factor.  Still, this does not account for a mental breakdown that her teammates would not have seen coming.  Nor does it explain how she acquired the power to ‘remake’ the world to her own crazy preferences, since she originally had no way to manipulate real magic.

The Scarlet Witch’s mutant powers allowed her to manipulate probabilities: e.g. she could change the probability of a strong wall collapsing on an opponent’s head from nil to a hundred percent with a flick of her fingers and some concentration.  Likewise, she could jam switches, or destroy rifles, or make a barn catch fire, all out of the blue.  That such a power would be difficult to control or affect her sanity on certain occasions would be unsurprising since it is such an intangible ability.

And it did, on a few occasions, make it hard for Wanda to get the results in battle that she desired.  So where other mutants could constantly (or almost constantly) keep up with their powers, the Scarlet Witch would have more trouble and need more time off from fighting than other mutants would.

This is where Agatha Harkness, a bona fide witch of the Marvel universe, was brought in.  By studying actual magic, Wanda hoped to find a shortcut through these rest periods and stay on the team for the same length of time as her friends.  At the very least, this part of Wanda’s tortured story proves the old idea that the path of least resistance is a slippery slope.  Shortcuts past principles and safety limits never end well for all concerned.

Is this where the Scarlet Witch gained reality warping abilities?  No, but similar escapades on her part somehow led to it, along with stranger and stranger back story alterations.  And so, when she had learned more of real magic, but at the same time far too little, she went on with other experiments, which led to the loss of her ‘sons.’  Topped off with the Vision’s temporarily being dismantled and then being rebuilt, losing his emotions in the process and shunning her almost permanently from that point on, the strain put Wanda in her own corner, away from the society of the Avengers.  Then, in a desperate attempt to regain what she had lost, she turned the world and her teammates nearly inside out (using magic she should not have been able to channel except for back story alterations) to that end.

Why?  Wouldn’t the Avengers have been more concerned about her than they appear to have been?  She was a member of the team; Avengers do not abandon fellow Avengers unless something prevents them from rescuing the fallen member of the team.  And come hell or high water, if that teammate is still breathing they won’t rest until they’re all back at Avengers HQ.

And, more to the point, how would meddling with magic grow mutant powers?  And how would someone who has no talent for magic somehow be able to channel it?  I am not forgetting the Scarlet Witch’s rewritten back story; I simply do not think the rewrites were all that necessary. Since they are there, however, I must say that I think they need not have taken the path they that they did.

If she had kept her original strength level, then the probability of Wanda’s mutant powers rewriting the Marvel universe into a “nightmare sequence” is – nada.  She would have to have a massive power behind her efforts and be left undisturbed at its source for a good amount of time to achieve the degree of detailed alteration she caused in the Avengers: Disassembled and House of M plotlines.  And even with her expanded back story, in such an unhealthy mental state as the one she was suffering from, it is doubtful that Wanda could have pulled off the global ‘revamp’ that she did.

Again, we come back to why.  Why?  The Avengers are not a neglectful team.  They would have noticed that Wanda was not well and they would have at least watched her if she would not let them help her.  They would have noticed and been ready for something (likely bad) to happen.  They’d have been ready for her to snap and would have known what was going on far more quickly than they did in Avengers: Disassembled.

Why?  The entire plotline came from left field and is totally unreasonable, as are the new ‘twists’ to her character history.  Can the Scarlet Witch ever again be a member of a team, her devotion to its principles as unquestionable as her fellows’?  Can she ever bring herself to even be in the same room as her teammates again without feeling guilt or being ostracized?

What happened in Disassembled and House of M and since has led to no one in the Avengers (and even in the X-Men) trusting her anymore, as a friend, woman, or a teammate.  In fact, the Avengers were prepared to kill her not too long ago.

It is a real and true shame that she’s been so broken.  The Scarlet Witch was not the strongest Avenger, but she was a decent character and there are still Marvelites who are fans of her.  Now, fellow writers, it seems that she has been damaged beyond repair in the eyes of her former teammates.

Many a reader may not be far behind the team in that respect, either.


Mithril (A Troubled True Believer)