Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Everything Everywhere All at Once.
Wanda Maximoff’s Scarlet Witch powers are finally presented correctly on screen, but not in the MCU’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, but in the indie film Everything Everywhere All at Once. The sequel to 2016’s Doctor Strange turned Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) into a villain, marking the first time an Avenger has become truly corrupted in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, director Sam Raimi perpetuates an issue with the MCU’s version of Scarlet Witch’s powers while a totally unrelated movie, Everything Everywhere All at Once presents them perfectly.
Evolving from her first appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda Maximoff is shown to have reality altering abilities, making her the most powerful Avenger, even more so than Captain Marvel, Hulk, and Thor. Her chaos magic allows her to cast spells similar to Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), but she mostly uses psionic energy, red blasts of energy that eviscerate anything in their path. In Everything Everywhere All at Once, Evelyn Quan Wang (Michelle Yeoh) gains the power to warp reality, just as her daughter Joy / Jobu Tupaki (Stephanie Hsu) can. While Evelyn uses her power to make people’s lives better, Jobu ends their lives using the multiverse, such as when she explodes a man’s head, turning it into confetti.
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The vast creative potential Wanda’s powers offer is better realized by Everything Everywhere All at Once than any project in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far. While Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness does show off her multiverse-spanning abilities a little more effectively, Wanda’s abilities are usually still relegated to psionic energy use. Her murder of the Illuminati, especially Black Bolt and Mr. Fantastic, is a great example of Raimi using her abilities creatively, as she implodes the former and turns John Krasinski’s Reed Richards into blue spaghetti, before popping his head. Yet there’s no doubt that Marvel has barely scratched the surface of what’s possible. By contrast Everything Everywhere All at Once places these possibilities front and center.
Even Doctor Strange 2‘s most elaborate kills cannot compare to the vast creativity on display in Everything Everywhere All at Once. Jobu Tupaki uses her abilities to salsa dance a man to death, while Michelle Yeoh’s Evelyn uses her reality-hopping abilities to help people realize their potential. Both are far more visually interesting when used in tandem with the film’s various kung-fu fights, especially when compared to Wanda’s attack on Kamar-Taj, which sees her fight Doctor Strange, Wong, and an army of sorcerers mostly using her psionic energy. This scene could have greatly benefited from the same kind of creative, reality-altering kills used in Everything Everywhere All at Once.
The MCU has had more fun using reality-altering abilities throughout the Infinity Saga, as the reality stone is used by Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War in more visually interesting ways. In this movie, the Mad Titan commits a similar attack to Wanda’s assault on the Illuminati on the Guardians of the Galaxy, transforming Mantis into a stringy substance and Drax the Destroyer into disembodied blocks, before turning Peter Quill’s blaster into a bubble shooter. However, the MCU has never quite gotten Wanda’s powers right in the same way. If the Scarlet Witch is indeed alive following the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, Marvel Studios should learn from Everything Everywhere All at Once when devising her reality-altering powers.