A Matter of Power

Or: Scarlet Witch vs. Carol Danvers

Recently I was ruminating on a puzzle that, in hindsight, is not much of a puzzle. This was the MCU’s focus (and the franchise’s focus) on Carol Danvers over heroines like the Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff. If you are a Marvel nerd (author raises hand behind her computer screen), then you know that Carol Danvers has to fight to reach the position of tenth strongest heroine in the Marvel multi-verse. It is quite possible she does not even rank a place on that scale, as the brief list of heroines below may show. They all have power stats that swamp Carol Danvers’:

1. Jean Grey: Even without the Phoenix Force, she is strong enough to withstand some severe punishment using her telekinesis. The only telepath on Earth stronger than her is Professor X. Jean has survived fighting Carol Danvers while the latter was at her most powerful and when Jean herself didn’t possess the Phoenix Force. She is not someone you want to tick off, and her power easily outweighs Danvers’.

2. Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff: In the comics, Wanda is a mutant who can affect probability with a few gestures and some concentration. She can also channel chaos magic and has been trained to use it, so you can see why she was able to rewrite reality at least twice within the main Marvel continuity. Wanda is on the short list of heroines you do not want mad at you for a very good reason, readers, but the current MCU offerings are doing her a disservice.

3. Spectrum/Monica Rambeau: Disney’s WandaVision completely undersold Monica, who can transform her body into any known energy and even some no one on Earth recognizes. Among her abilities are energy projection, turning herself into visible light to travel at the speed of light, and the power to become a hologram. She can also split into several miniature holograms of herself. Add to this her time with the New Orleans Harbor Patrol, her years as a detective, and her training at the hands of none other than Captain America, and you have to wonder why they introduced her to audiences the way they did in WandaVision.

4. Moondragon: Raised on Titan after her parents were killed in a car crash, Moondragon’s telepathy might just rival Jean Grey’s. She is strong enough, if memory serves, to give Thanos a run for his money. Oh, and she got her powers through training; she wasn’t born with them. She just trained and trained and trained until she mastered these abilities. Yikes.

5. Sersi: Marvel’s variation on the Greek goddess Circe, this woman is an Eternal and we are going to be seeing her in the upcoming flop by the same title. Her list of abilities is impressive, but considering she was made to watch over and protect humanity, that’s not a surprise. Don’t bother watching her in the movie, find her in the comics and read about her there. She is going to be far more interesting there than in the film.

6. Lady Sif: Technically, Sif’s powers aren’t on the scale to make anyone go, “Wow, flashy!” She doesn’t project energy beams or wield magic. That said, in a throwdown between her and Carol Danvers, my money is on the woman with centuries of experience. Not putting Sif in a top ten strongest Marvel heroines’ list would be a crime.

7. Clea: Clea looks human, but she isn’t. She is a member of a race of energy beings who appear human and she is Dormammu’s niece, though she has no love for him and has helped fight him whenever possible. She is also Dr. Strange’s longtime romantic interest and can hold her own with him in terms of magical power, though she may not be as strong as he is.

8. Valkyrie/Brunnhilde: The leader of the Valkyrior, Brunnhilde makes this list primarily for the one power every Valkyrie possesses: She can tell Death to take a hike. Not permanently, of course, but for a time she can make Death (and death goddesses like Hela) beat it. We didn’t get to see that in the MCU, which I find a crying shame, but I would certainly like to see Carol Danvers one up that superpower.

9. Crystal Amaquelin: If you were first introduced to this princess of the Inhuman royal family in the short-lived TV series, I am sincerely sorry, readers. Crystal is a superheroine more than capable of holding her own, as she has power over all the elements in addition to her natural Inhuman physiology and the ability to fly. Is she as powerful as Carol Danvers at her strongest – perhaps not. But she would definitely give the new Captain Marvel one heck of a fight.

10.  The Invisible Woman/Susan Storm Richards: Marvel’s matriarch probably should have been higher on this list, because she is insanely powerful and she was the first heroine in the Marvel multi-verse. Unfortunately, she slipped my mind until the last minute, so she is here at the end of the roster. But the fact is that she is one of the top five strongest Marvel heroines ever, and Carol Danvers can’t compete with her.

So, of the ten heroines listed here, aside from Wanda Maximoff, only Valkyrie and Sif would have been able to compare to Carol Danvers in the MCU. Clea, if she appears at all, will be in Doctor Strange 2 and she probably will not be his love interest there. Or if she is, they will not end the film as boyfriend/girlfriend or even husband and wife.

They had Monica play second fiddle to Carol in the film Captain Marvel, which is a laugh – aside from the Kree man named Captain Mar-Vell, the character who has the strongest claim to the title of Captain Marvel is Monica Rambeau. She gave up the name when Mar-Vell’s son arrived on Earth, since he had familial ties to it, eventually settling on the name Spectrum. Unfortunately, any chance of seeing these two heroines clash on the silver screen went out the window a long, long time ago, readers.

But back to the topic at hand: If Wanda is so much more powerful than Carol Danvers, why isn’t she receiving her due in the Cinematic Universe? Rather than rewrite all of reality, she only affects reality in and around Westview, New Jersey. And she starts messing with demonology in the process, something comic book Wanda knew better than to try. (She got possessed a time or two – she knows how bad messing with demons is, readers.) The writers also essentially made her a villain in WandaVision. Even the comic book stories that inspired that series – Avengers: Disassembled and House of M – acknowledged that Wanda did a bad thing, if for sympathetic reasons.

Why the disparity in these two portrayals of the premiere sorceress in the Marvel multi-verse? Simple. In the comics and the films, Wanda has only wanted one thing above all else, even world peace: a husband and children.

Now, I will admit that I really don’t like how the writers gave her children in the comics. Magicking herself pregnant was bound to end badly, and while I can understand why she did it, someone should have told Wanda off for it. The writers had no qualms about pulling all kinds of crazy stuff for the Scarlet Witch that would be considered highly unhealthy if a real woman went through it, and I think someone should have thrown the brakes on them before we even got within spitting distance of the events of Disassembled and House of M.

Yeah, I know, those are considered great story arcs. I personally hate those stories and wish one of the writers had had the team stage an intervention before things went that far. That would have been more in-character for the team than what we got, in my opinion. But that is my opinion, and no one has to agree with it.

To the best of my knowledge, although Carol Danvers has had boyfriends and fallen deeply in love with at least one or two men, she has never expressed a desire to settle down. Admittedly, Carol has never been my favorite character, so I haven’t read about her or looked her up very often. It may be that she said once or twice that she wouldn’t mind marrying and having a family, and I never heard about it. Should that prove to be the case this author will happily admit that she erred.

But from what little I know marriage and family life has never been a major motivator for Danvers. Wanda, on the other hand, has always wanted to be a wife and mother. She married Vision and, because they couldn’t have children naturally, she went to extremes to be able to conceive and bear children herself. If you read the fifth issue of Solo Avengers, Wanda’s half of the issue opens with her looking in a mirror and commenting that her costume no longer fits as she’s lost her “girlish figure” after carrying and giving birth to twins. She’s not unhappy about this, though – in fact, when she says it, she’s got a slight smile on her face. Her cut-off comment in the next square adds: “Ah, well, if my husband likes it –”

If her husband likes it. God forbid a modern woman make any decision based on a suggestion, opinion, or idea offered by a man, let alone a husband! How can a super-powerful superheroine submit to a judgement about her looks from a man, even a synthetic one!

Wanda is a problem for the MCU as well as Marvel Comics. She’s an “old-fashioned girl” who wants a family, who wants stability and domestic happiness. Oh, she will help save the world and fight villains (in Solo Avengers issue five, she fights Death himself – and nearly replaces him!), but at the end of the day her career as an Avenger is secondary to her role as wife and mother.

And the usual suspects can’t have that positive portrayal of natural femininity, now can they, readers?

So the Scarlet Witch, despite being extremely powerful in her own right, has to take a back seat to the much less impressive Carol Danvers. Because if little girls look up to and imitate the Scarlet Witch, then third-wave feminism will be set back on its heels, if not revealed for the utter lie that it is. It has been proven in study after study that the majority of women are happier when they settle down with a man and have children. The majority of women are markedly less happy when they are engaged in the rat race needed to get ahead in a variety of careers, with little to no chance of finding a man worth marrying before they are too old to have children.

Yes, there are exceptions. There are women who prefer a career to marriage and family life. Readers, there are always exceptions to every rule; that is not the point. The point is that third-wave feminism is perpetrating a lie which is hurting not only adult women but adolescents, teens, and little girls who are already trapped in a sea of confusion.

One of the original aims of feminism was to enable women to take care of themselves if the need arose or if they desired to remain unmarried. You can see this when you read Louisa May Alcott’s books – most of her heroines want to marry. In Jo’s Boys, Jo March Bhaer pointedly asks the female students at her husband’s college: “Yes, but what if you don’t marry?” when they say they only want to work until they find a man whom they believe is eligible marriage material. Feminism, equal rights, equal pay, etc., were all meant to enable a woman to work if she had to. Or if, as Nan does in Jo’s Boys, she prefers to pursue a career and live the life of a “spinster.”

I am not going to argue about the flaws and faults of the suffragette movement and early feminism. That is a deep rabbit hole which has had books written about it by authors more knowledgeable of the topic than yours truly. If you want facts and statistics, there are plenty of academic papers and books on this subject, as well as newspaper and opinion articles which will cover the points touched on here in more depth.

As a way of closing, I will say that it is highly disturbing to see women’s natural inclinations toward marriage and motherhood treated as pathologies to be uprooted via any means necessary. The ruination of the Scarlet Witch and the propping up (as well as the assassination of) Carol Danvers is part of the effort to stop little girls from trying to be happy in this old, broken world. It is disgusting and sad, and I feel very sorry for both the actresses who play these parts. One knows what she is missing, from what little this author can tell, while the other does not.

That is worse – and sadder – than what has been done to the characters they play. It is the real crime and the real loss, which Hollywood glam and glitter obscures. But once you look past it, you can see it.

If you want heroines who are heroines, then check out my stories through the Amazon Affiliate link here, readers. More are on the way, so be patient! Until then, you can also visit my website at www.carolinefurlong.wordpress.com.