WandaVision Has an Opportunity to Acknowledge Wanda’s Romani Heritage
In an upcoming episode of WandaVision, our reality-warping not-mutant will be dressing up in a variant of her classic comic book costume, headpiece and all. During an interview with Still Watching/Vanity Fair, Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda) talked about fighting for this costume.
“I was so excited!” Olsen said. “We have a Halloween episode and they were trying to figure out how big of a nod to the character we were going to do and it did start off with the classic Scarlet Witch costume. It was kind of like a g*psy thing that has to wear a headband and I, like, fought for it. I was like ‘No, we have to go full into it…this is like the greatest thing, if Paul’s doing it, I’m doing it.'”
Despite her clumsy use of the slur, it is an important point because it is the first time since Ultron we have referenced the fact that Wanda Maximoff (the comic character) is Romani.
Due to the fact that Fox and Marvel had not yet merged into one, a lot of Wanda’s backstory was changed when she was introduced to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She was still allowed to keep her name and her twin brother, Pietro (R.I.P.), but her backstory as the estranged daughter of X-Men villain Magento and Romani woman named Magda, which established Wanda and Pietro as the children of Jewish and Romani Holocaust survivors, was left out.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, she gained her powers not by being a mutant, but by being was exposed to the Mind Stone in Hydra experiments. Her parents were nameless people killed by Tony Stark’s company’s weapons in the fictional nation of Sokovia. Despite the fact that Elizabeth Olsen is neither Jewish nor Roma, so it would have been problematic either way, leaving that out of the character was still an erasure in not at least attempting to include any of that in her heritage onscreen.
Comic book adaptations have had a very hard time acknowledging the Roma heritage of several of their characters, including Dick Grayson and Doctor Doom. It is something that is often only acknowledged in the text and leaves an already marginalized and underrepresented group behind, not to mention it comes across as if they only see that heritage as an “exotic” seasoning to the characters rather than an important part of their culture.
WandaVision has impressed me in bringing back Wanda’s accent, focusing on her trauma, and allowing Elizabeth Olsen to do some of her best acting. I hope the writers allow Wanda Maximoff to be a Roma woman, even if they didn’t get an actress who was.
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