If you had to summarize and conceptualize Wanda into a single sentence or phrase, what would you say? She's really hard to explain sometimes, so I was curious what you would say. For example, "Vision is a synthetic man who wants more than anything to prove his humanity" or "Black Widow is reformed assassin who wants to atone for the sins of her past."
A woman with vague, hard-to-define powers gets screwed over by white male writers.
I’m only sort of joking.
If we’re talking just about the Wanda who has existed for the past 5-6 years in comics, describing her in a sentence isn’t too difficult. She has become The Atoner, and the hook of her character has been about sins past and whether or not she is still “dangerous.” Her character has boiled down to: House of M was a thing that happened, and she’s both trying to make up for that and struggling to retain her agency.
An easy summary. But the Wandas with the easiest summaries tend to be the worst. Part of the appeal of Disassembled Wanda for a lot of people is that she is new reader-friendly, i.e., her basic concept doesn’t require too much explaining, even if the continuity does. When Wanda is reduced to an elevator pitch, she is weakened. Her complexity is part of her strength, and that means she is Not For Everyone but also that the people who “get” it feel intense loyalty.
If we’re talking about Wanda’s overall history, it becomes seemingly impossible to explain her in a way that stays true across time. The definition of her powers is constantly evolving. Sometimes, she is in perfect control of them; many times, the fact that she isn’t in control is the point. Sometimes, she is nice. Other times, not so much.
Looking across adaptations and alternate universes, we really see how many things she has been and how few things those different versions have in common. What do the Wanda of the 90’s Iron Man cartoon (a shapeshifter who was in love with Tony Stark) and the Wanda of X-Men: Evolution (a vengeful spirit, clearly influenced by The Craft, who the writers did not know how to handle) and the Wanda of Ultimates (a bland version of the classic Scheming, Snobby Girl who is in love with her brother because no one else meets her narcissistic standards) have in common? They’re all named Wanda. You’d be hard-pressed to describe any of their powers. That’s about it.
The sad part of this is that what stays the most true across versions is the men she interacts with. Wanda has a brother named Pietro almost always. Usually, her father is Magneto. This is most obvious in the MCU, which takes great pains to preserve her relationships with men from the comics (save Simon). The romantic elements with Clint and Steve are omitted, but they made sure to include her closeness to those characters and her romance with Vision, while leaving many other things behind. I’m not criticizing that choice. I’m the last person to get mad about Wanda interacting with Clint and Steve, but if what is most consistent about your female character is that she knows certain men, there’s a problem.
There are themes that come up often with Wanda: autonomy, family, revenge, but how those are dealt with varies wildly. Maybe it’s better to describe her using other characters? Sometimes, she is Jean Grey Meets Magneto. Or just Jean Grey with an Eastern European accent. Occasionally, she is Daenerys with magic powers instead of dragons. In Evo, she was a cross between Fairuza Balk’s character in The Craft and Raven from Teen Titans. In Ults, she was Sarah Michelle Gellar’s character from Cruel Intentions, but Mark Millar forgot to give her a personality.
If you want to cheat and describe Wanda as a whole in the most succinct way possible, just say she’s a Pisces. Always changing.