The Scarlet Witch was just a name for decades, but in recent years, the title has taken on a whole new meaning.
The Scarlet Witch has gone through several different origin stories over the years. Outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wanda Maximoff has been an orphan mutant sorceress, a daughter of Magneto, and ultimately a High Evolutionary experiment. In recent tales, the Scarlet Witch was revealed to be a much larger title, which preceded Wanda by generations.
Wanda first came across this hidden legacy in 2016. Scarlet Witch # 3, by James Robinson, Steve Dillon, and Chris Visions. During this story, the Scarlet Witch had traveled to Ireland, seeking to confront the Emerald Warlock for his alteration of the local landscape. Along the way, Wanda traveled to the Witches’ Path, where she first encountered Natalya Maximoff, another Scarlet Witch.
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Initially, Natalya did not realize how she was related to Wanda. The older Scarlet Witch knew only that she had been sent to the Witches’ Path to protect her successor from unknown dangers. Wanda, however, was able to tell that Natalya was her mother, much to the surprise of the young Scarlet Witch. However, Wanda kept this knowledge to herself, simply saying that she was a distant relative of Natalya.
During their time together, Natalya told Wanda more about herself. The older Scarlet Witch explained how she operated as a whisper, acting only in the shadows. Before Wanda could learn much more about her mother, they were attacked by a monstrous creature named Phooka. Fortunately, Natalya dispatched the threat with ease.
With her work done, Natalya fainted. However, as she did so, Natalya recognized Wanda as her daughter. During her subsequent adventures, Wanda investigated her mother’s past, reconstructing her history. In Scarlet Witch # 11, by Robinson and Leila Del Duca, Wanda spoke with Natalya’s old partner, Dasha Kolarov.
Dasha explained more about Natalya’s backstory, specifically how she fought invisible threats like vampires, werewolves, mad scientists, and witches. Evidently, Natalya had also perished in the battle against the High Evolutionary when she kidnapped her children, Wanda and Pietro.
In Scarlet Witch # 12, by Robinson and Annapaola Martello, Wanda’s aunt, Marya, revealed more about the ancestry of the Scarlet Witch. Natalya had apparently inherited her title from Wanda’s grandfather, who was a kind of “Scarlet Warlock”. It’s unclear exactly how far back the Scarlet Witch’s cloak goes, but it’s safe to say that it has become a familiar cloak.
Wanda’s family legacy was a great help to her in Scarlet Witch # 13-14, by Robinson, Jonathan-Marks Barravecchia and Shawn Crystal, when Natalya helped her daughter fight the Witches’ Path. Together, Wanda, Natalya, and Agatha Harkness fought against Wanda’s inner demons and the aimless ones to reach the goddess of all witches. This mighty being was dying at the hands of Chaos.
The three witches used their power to drive Chaos away, and Natalya sacrificed herself to restore witchcraft to the world. Before dying, Natalya also told Wanda that it was actually her father who had killed her, rather than the High Evolutionary.
Overall, Scarlet Witch’s legacy adds a lot to Wanda’s backstory. Before this new reveal, the Scarlet Witch was a simple and nonsensical codename, just like many other superheroes or villains. The backstory gives much more meaning to Wanda’s title than before. The Scarlet Witch is part of a larger family history that spans several generations.
The inclusion of Natalya also gives Wanda a kind of mentor. Of course, the Scarlet Witch has been mentored by Agatha Harkness before, but providing Wanda with a mother who shares a connection to witchcraft really does give her a family legacy to aspire to. Since the Scarlet Witch is no longer considered a mutant, connecting her to an entire line of witches and warlocks explains a lot about her natural ability with magic.
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