MCU: If You Can Forgive These 10 Characters, You Should Be Able To Forgive The Scarlet Witch
The MCU holds some dark pasts.
WARNING! SPOILERS for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
After much speculation regarding the character's allegiance prior to the film's release, Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch emerged as the clear antagonist of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. She racks up a rather large body count in the film, killing many trainee Sorcerors during an assault on Kamar-Taj, as well as the Illuminati of universe 838, in her quest to travel to a world where she could be with her lost children.
The Scarlet Witch's behaviour in the film is explained by the fact that her soul has been corrupted by the Darkhold, an ancient book of dark magic. Doctor Strange describes this corruption as the Wanda they once knew essentially being gone. Wanda goes on to defy Strange's expectations, as by the climax of the film, she is able to shake off the Darkhold's influence, destroying every copy of the book across the Multiverse, along with universe 616's original copy, carved into the walls of Mount Wundagore.
Despite this act, the aforementioned high body count have left some fans doubting whether the Scarlet Witch can be redeemed. Others, however, have pointed out that many other MCU characters have been forgiven for similar crimes, or sometimes much worse, and many of those without Wanda's level of extenuating circumstances.
So, if you were able to forgive the characters on the following list, you should probably try to forgive Wanda Maximoff as well.
1. Tony Stark
Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, will always be loved for being the MCU's very first hero, and for giving fans many great moments before his eventual heroic sacrifice in Avengers: Endgame. However, as loved as he his, Tony Stark is far, far, from perfect.While he has made many mistakes over the years, the creation of the psychotic A.I Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron is easily one of the worst.
After being haunted by a vision of a bad future courtesy of the Scarlet Witch, Tony decides to use Loki's sceptre, which contains the Mind Stone, in the creation of Ultron, whom he intends to be peacekeeping program. Bruce Banner is hesitant about the project, but Tony forges ahead as they only have a few days with the Sceptre. Unfortunately, Ultron is born believing that destroying the Avengers is the only path to peace, leading to tragedy and a large civilian body count when Ultron attacks Sokovia.
Tony's attempt to atone for this by signing the Sokovia Accords only leads to further disaster when disagreement over the accords eventually leads to a rift in the Avengers team, meaning they are scattered across the world rather than a cohesive unit when Thanos eventually attacks.
Rushing ahead to create Ultron without fully consulting his teammates was a bad move on Tony's part, and Ultron's attack on Sokovia very likely had a higher body count than Wanda's assault on Kamar Taj. Despite this rather colossal blunder, Tony has been forgiven relatively easily, both in-universe, and by fans.
2. Black Widow
Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, another of the six original Avengers, also has some darkness in her past. Prior to Clint Barton's decision to recruit her to S.H.I.E.L.D, Natasha was an expert assassin trained by the Red Room. She was considered one of the Red Room's best, killing an unknown number of targets before her eventual defection. A scene in the first Avengers film even implies that she may once have set fire to a Hospital.
"I've got red in my ledger. I'd like to wipe it out."
Natasha's past dark acts are often brushed under the carpet as a consequence of her Red Room training and conditioning, and after joining S.H.I.E.L.D, she made a great effort to atone for her past, eventually sacrificing her life so that Hawkeye can obtain the Soul Stone in Endgame. If the Black Widow can be forgiven after breaking away from the Red Room, there's no good reason that the Scarlet Witch cannot also be given a chance to atone after purging the corruption of the Darkhold.
As a S.H.I.E.L.D Agent and founding member of the Avengers, Clint Barton, aka Hawkeye, is one of the good guys.. most of the time. Early in the first Avengers, Loki puts Clint under mind control with his sceptre. During this time, Clint is responsible for multiple deaths both through helping Loki's plans, and causing an explosion during an attack on the SHIELD heli-carrier. He is easily forgiven for these things because he was under mind control and not in control of his actions, similar to how Wanda's Darkhold corruption means she is not entirely in control of herself.
Clint's real crimes occur in Avengers: Endgame. Grief stricken after his entire family is wiped out in the Decimation, Clint embarks on a five-year killing spree as Ronin, murdering criminals he deems unworthy of having survived when his family did not. While the film uses fact he is only killing criminals to somewhat justify his actions, what he is doing is still very much illegal.
However, Clint's actions as Ronin are not mentioned again in Endgame once he is recruited for the Time Heist, and he has thus far escaped any repercussions for his killing spree apart from some ruined Christmas plans.
Since his debut in the first Thor film, Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, quickly became a fan favourite, with the character growing from villain to anti-hero over the course of his appearances.
A mostly sympathetic figure in Thor, Loki's true villainous turn comes in The Avengers, where he puts Hawkeye under mind control, attempts to take over the Earth with a borrowed alien Chitauri army, and kills Agent Phil Coulson, who had been a friend to all the Avengers. While the MCU tends not to dwell on collateral damage for the most part, it would be naive to think there were no civilian casualties from the Battle of New York. Innocent bystanders definitely died due to Loki's actions. A popular fan theory suggests that Loki may have been under the Mind Stone's control himself during the events of the film, but this has never been definitively confirmed.
Loki pivots to the role of a loveable trickster anti-hero following The Avengers, and due to the character's popularity, and the unconfirmed theory that he was under mind control during The Avengers, most fans have been happy to forgive his misdeeds. Surely Wanda, who is confirmed to have been under the influence of an outside force in Multiverse of Madness, deserves the same chance at redemption as a character who may-or-may-not have been under mind control at the time of his worst crimes.
5. Bruce Banner/The Hulk
In his human form, Dr. Bruce Banner would not hurt a fly. On the other hand, his alter-ego, The Hulk, while capable of heroism in the right situation, is also capable of causing a lot of damage. This is seen during the climax of The Incredible Hulk, when the battle between Hulk and The Abomination causes great damage to the City of Harlem, when Hulk is unleashed on the Helicarrier in The Avengers, and when Wanda mentally manipulates the Hulk into a rampage in Avengers: Age of Ultron. While The Hulk is manipulated into emerging in all three scenarios, the damage still stands.
For the most part, Bruce Banner is forgiven for The Hulk's rampages, seeing as he and the Hulk were seen as separate entities, at least until Banner was able to merge The Hulk and himself into a single being in Avengers: Endgame. While Wanda and The Scarlet Witch are not separate entities, as some sources have claimed, she is still subject to the manipulation of dark forces beyond her control during the events of Multiverse of Madness.
6. Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier
Following his dramatic fall from a speeding train in Captain America: The First Avenger, James 'Bucky' Barnes is taken into custody by Hydra. The evil organisation subjects him to a brutal regime of torture and brainwashing until he is warped into a dangerous assassin known only as The Winter Soldier. During his time as The Winter Soldier, Bucky assassinates a large but unknown number of people, including Howard and Maria Stark. Even after regaining his identity, Bucky remains a threat, as a series of trigger words are able to revert him to his Winter Soldier conditioning.
Bucky is eventually freed from his Hydra programming through special treatment in Wakanda, and due to the confirmation of his brainwashed status, is pardoned for his crimes as the Winter Soldier. If Bucky can be forgiven due to having his mind warped by Hydra, surely we can forgive Wanda, who had her mind warped by an ancient evil force.
7. Doctor Strange
After a car accident permanently damaged his hands, Doctor Stephen Strange trains as a Sorceror at Kamar Taj, eventually becoming Master of New York's Sanctum Sanctorum. While he is mostly a force for good, Strange's arrogance has led to disaster in other universes, as seen in What If..? episode four, and Sinister Strange's universe in Multiverse of Madness.
As far as the main MCU, Strange's biggest mistake came in Spider-Man: No Way Home, when the failure of his spell to make the world forget Peter Parker is Spider-Man causes a weakening of the barrier between universes. Strange places the blame for this on Peter for interuppting and altering the spell mid-cast, but most fans believe Strange is to blame, for not taking the time to discuss and hash out the finer details with Peter before starting. Despite the majority acknowledging that Strange is to blame, he has been nowhere near as vilified for his mistake as Wanda has for hers, either in-universe or by the wider fandom.
After his tragic death in Avengers: Infinity War, Vision is revived by S.W.O.R.D during the events of WandaVision as a colourless, emotionless shell of his former self. The revived Vision is programmed to kill both Wanda, the woman he loved, as well as the new Vision she created inside the Westview anomaly. White Vision almost succeeds in killing Wanda, and does quite a bit of damage to the town while battling Westview Vision. White Vision then flees after Westview Vision unlocks his memories, which had been buried by S.W.O.R.D's programming.
White Vision's situation has been likened to that of Bucky, as both had their true selves erased by outside forces, meaning neither are to blame for their actions. In the same vein, Wanda cannot truly be blamed for her actions while under the influence of the Darkhold.
As one of Thanos's adopted children, Nebula likely killed hundreds while under his orders. She also shared a number of conflicts with her adopted sister, Gamora, and Gamora's new family, the Guardians of The Galaxy. Nebula eventually breaks away from Thanos's influence, reconciling with Gamora and vowing to free the universe of her adopted Father's tyranny. She eventually joins the surviving Avengers in their efforts to reverse the decmation.
Nebula's past dark deeds are often forgiven due to the torment she suffered at the hands of Thanos, who replaced parts of her body with machinery everytime she lost a training match against Gamora. Wanda, as fans will be aware, also has a large amount of trauma in her past, making her more susceptible to the Darkhold's influence.
10. The entire Guardians of the Galaxy team
We can't talk about Nebula without mentioning her sister, Gamora, or in fact, the entire starting roster of the Guardians of the Galaxy. While they are now portrayed as loveable rogues, we cannot forget that every single one of the Guardians started out as criminals. Gamora, like her sister, took a lot of lives while under Thanos’s thumb. Peter Quill is a thief, Rocket Raccoon a thief and arsonist, and Groot is responsible for similar crimes as Rocket, with a few more violent acts thrown in. Drax, in his quest to avenge his family, has also committed an unknown number of murders.
All have made great strides towards redemption, and all are loved by the fans. A group of former criminals, quirky and loveable as they are, are not more worthy of forgiveness than a grieving Mother with a traumatic past who fell under the influence of dark forces beyond her control.
Wanda deserves the same chance at redemption as the characters mentioned above. I, for one, hope that she gets it.