*Spoilers for the Avengers movies ahoy*
Dear Marvel Studios,
I'm a pretty new fan, brought in by your first Avengers movie in 2012. I'm not sure why I didn't get into superhero stuff before that, given how much I like speculative fiction, but perhaps I thought it was a "boy" thing. You can't really blame me, given the continual issues with comics being a male-dominated field. Just look at the problem you still have with fair representation of Black Widow in merchandise!
But you did pull me in with The Avengers, and even though I had no idea what was going on (which happens when you've missed all the prequel movies and are watching the movie past midnight on a whim), I was interested enough to go back and watch a whole ton of superhero movies during the summer, which I ended up blogging about here. Like many, I believe that you currently are the forerunner on superhero movies, and I'm willing to take chances on your movies (like Ant-Man) that I won't on others. You also got me to change my favorite superhero from Superman to Captain America, which I'm sure you're glad to hear.
I'm also a big social justice person, and, as an author, I believe diverse representation in the media is vitally important. Again, this is a problem you're still struggling with, although kudos on slowly diversifying the Avengers team and having solo movies with female/black superheroes coming out in the future. So I've been invested in seeing how the Avengers team grows and how the stories therein play out. This past movie, Avengers: Age of Ultron, gave me a lot of hope. (Though I feel I must ask, what's up with that random Black Widow/Hulk romance? I mean, it sort of works, but it came out of left field for me.)
What I loved most about Age of Ultron? My possible new-new favorite superhero: Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff).
Scarlet Witch is the most gloriously relatable character I have ever seen in the superhero movie world. In a lot of ways, she's the best representations I've seen of myself in all the speculative fiction world. I can't describe how joyful she makes me. Let me count the ways in which I find her relatable:
1) She's female. So am I! Wow, what a coincidence! For those of you who don't know, Scarlet Witch is the second female character to join the Avengers team. The other one is Black Widow. In contrast, with the advent of the second Avengers movie, I believe there are now eight men on the team? Yeah, bro.
2) She's not traditionally beautiful. When you look at Wanda in Age of Ultron, she's not exactly the picture of ideal female beauty, though, this being Hollywood, she doesn't cross too many lines. But see the top image: her hair throughout most of the movie is a bit scraggly and out of place. She's got under-eye circles. Her clothes are a bit worn-down, though lovely. All of these are things that I also have! And you know what? In this movie, those things don't change the fact that Scarlet Witch is a kick-butt, fabulous, and ultimately attractive heroine. When the epic moment shown below occurred, my roommates were like, "Wowwwwww she's hot." And I just about wanted to squeal from joy.
3) She's a bit emotionally unstable. Wanda comes from a pretty dark place, and her persona throughout the movie is a somewhat unstable one. She's very powerful, with intense mind-control abilities, and she's also originally a villainous character, out for revenge after the deaths of her parents. The experimentation that induced her powers is further indicated to have been excruciating. With her non-traditional appearance, she comes across very easily as what might even be a mentally ill female character--but beautifully, wonderfully, the filmmakers never push her down into the "crazy woman" stereotype that's so common in our society. Wanda might be unstable, but she's ultimately a hero, and at no point is she treated as though her instability decreases her value, morality, or ability. As a mentally ill woman myself, again, this means so much.
4) She's got psychic-type powers. Those who know my writing are aware of exactly how much I gravitate towards this sort of thing. Mind-reading, telekinesis, mind-control--as someone who's not physically apt, these all speak to me. I'm also a decently empathetic person, to the point that I once wondered if I were actually somewhat psychic.
5) Other people usually transport her places. This might sound weird to y'all, but remember, I'm also disabled. How many disabled characters do you know from speculative fiction? Okay, now get rid of everyone who doesn't exist basically for the main character to take care of. Great. We've got, like, Professor X? And I should like to note that in the X-Men movies, he's never actually in the middle of the action. Generally, he's the wise sage who doles out advice to the manly, strong, fighter heroes from his wheelchair, yeah? So for a while now, I've been trying to decide how the heck someone like me could ever be a hero in the worlds I love most.
This movie began to answer that question for me. Because Wanda, though she's not disabled, rarely does moving-places-thing herself. Her twin brother, Pietro, has super-speed, and he carries her everywhere in this movie. Obviously, this works for convenience because fast. But for someone like me, it's also extremely heartening. Even after Pietro dies, Wanda is carried first by Vision, who flies her from the battle scene, and then by her own telekinetic power at the end scene. In all of this, I saw, finally, a rising hope for people like me, people who can't run or walk, who can't be super epic physical in battle. Because even though Scarlet Witch never shows any real physical prowess, even though people carry her all over the place, she's still legit powerful and a huge part of the big battle scene. She's got so much strength in her mental powers that she doesn't need to be very physically capable. HALLELUJAH AMEN!
I also appreciate the fact that she's not American and how much she clearly cares about family. Like her great twin relationship. I like that stuff.
So why am I telling you all this, Marvel? Because the end scene got me worried.
All of a sudden, Wanda's all polish and poise, even though her brother just died. It took me a second to even recognize her in this scene. And yes, it's just one quick scene, and I have faith in you, Marvel. But I wanted to let you know about all the things that made me love Scarlet Witch so much, because I don't want you to erase them. It's okay if Wanda becomes a bit happier and more stable, and even if her physical appearance reflects that a bit. I like happy people, right? But please don't take away everything that made Wanda such a complex, human character. Don't relegate her to "pretty token lady-character with red light power." Let her be the person who gave me a new kind of hope.
Good? Good. Thanks for creating a character in whom I finally saw myself, guys.
P.S. I totes ship her and Vision, by the way. <3
Thanks for reading, my dear friends, and I'll see you again Saturday fora beauty routine video with a fibromyalgic twist. Who's your favorite superhero? Your favorite Avenger? A character you really relate to in general?
Images via Marvel on YouTube, themarysue.com, gifhuntress on Tumblr, recentlyheard.com, sciencefiction.com, captainamerica-in-middle-earth on Tumblr, and sideshowcollectors.com.
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