Because it just wouldn’t be a sequel without more characters, it seems that Joss Whedon might be adding the brother/sister duo of Wanda and Pietro Maximoff, better known as the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver respectively, to the cast of Avengers 2. While on the red carpet for the Iron Man 3 premier in Los Angeles, Whedon was quoted, saying:
I’ve got these two characters, you know, I’ve got these two of my favorite characters from the comic books, a brother/sister act. They’re in the movie. That’s exciting. You know you can lock certain things in.
And while there are a number of sibling acts in the Marvel Universe, there’s only one that’s associated with the Avengers. Whether or not this proves to be true, (it’s one thing to be “locked” into the script versus what ends up on the screen) I find there are a few kernels of interest in adding Magneto’s twin children into the Avengers mix. Oh, yeah, did I forget to mention that Wanda and Pietro are Magneto’s kids? Yup, that’s right! And that totally makes them mutants, which leads us into the first issue brought up if they’re added to Avengers 2…
Mutants or Avengers?
The thing about copyright and licensing of intellectual property, especially when it concerns film rights, is that sometimes there can be a bit of an overlap when it comes to characters who don’t exactly fit neatly into one category. Case in point, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. While, yes, they are the mutant children of the X-Men’s longtime foe, Wanda and Pietro are actually more associated with the Avengers in the comics then they are with, say, Daddy Magneto’s first group, The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Subtle, right? But this is where it gets a bit tricky.
I think we’re all kind of aware that Marvel doesn’t own the film rights to all of its characters. Before the creation of Marvel Studios, under the purview of Kevin Feige, and being purchased by The Walt Disney Company, Marvel had previously sold the film rights to many of their characters to a multitude of studios. Most notably, Spider-Man and his cast of supporting characters and rogues were sold to Sony/Columbia Pictures while the X-Men, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four were sold to 20th Century Fox. Over time, however, Marvel Studios has slowly gained many of its properties back. Just recently, they regained the rights to Daredevil from Fox since the studio couldn’t successfully produce another film in time to meet the requirements of their contract with Marvel. Hell, the only reason we even got The Hulk in Avengers was due to the poor performance of The Hulk (2003) at the box office that Universal Studios allowed Marvel to reacquire the film rights, which gave us the slightly better The Incredible Hulk (2008) that tied our favorite green force of nature into the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Unlike Daredevil, Sony and Fox have been very keen to keep the rights to Spider-Man and The X-Men universes, which is why The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) even exists. The X-Men movies, and Wolverine, despite being so-so, have still raked in enough money at the box office to keep Fox from giving them up any time soon. They’re even taking a chance on rebooting the Fantastic Four, but that’s another article all together. This, however, is where we run into the funny business. The Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are mutants, which would mean they belong in the X-Men Universe and therefore belong to Fox in terms of film rights, right? Well, sort of. You see, they’re also Avengers, having served on the team in the comics, off and on, for a few decades. And since Marvel Studios has the rights to the Avengers team, that would also include Wanda and Pietro. This begs the question: which universe do they belong to?
It’s not like the question hasn’t been asked before, the studios have just been pretty vague about giving a definitive answer. It’s probably more of a headache for them to figure out then it is for us to speculate. But if, and this is a big IF mind you, the Maximoff twins have been locked into Whedon’s script, it’ll be the first mention or inclusion of mutants in the Marvel Cinematic Universe under Marvel Studios. This leads us to our next little nugget of interest…
How Much Screen Time?
For the sake of argument, let’s just say that everything’s true and that the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are in the script and end up in the film. If that’s the case, then how much screen time are you going to devote to them? Don’t get me wrong, Whedon’s a master at writing ensemble pieces, but like many a sequel before him (X-Men 2, X-3, Spider-Man 3), adding more characters doesn’t necessarily mean good things will follow. The Avengers alone sported the six main heroes, plus Nick Fury, Loki, Agent Coulson, Maria Hill, Eric Selvig, the Chitauri, and Thanos (briefly). And the only reason most of those characters worked is due to our familiarity with them in the previous films.
I think we can safely say Loki won’t be in Avengers 2, at least not as a big bad, all the Chitauri are dead because of hive-mind syndrome (plot convenience), and Eric will probably show up in the Thor movies if they’re going to continue using the character. Thanos is looming in the background, but because of some recent vague statements about whether or not he’s the main villain in Avengers 2 or they’re saving him for a possible Avengers 3, let’s go for the whole enchilada and just say he’s the main baddie of Avengers 2. We also know that Coulson is alive, so he’ll probably make an appearance along with Nick Fury and Maria Hill.
Still a big cast, but there are some slots open where Wanda and Pietro could fit in nicely. But there’s also the matter of keeping your main characters, the ones the audience knows, front and center. We know who makes up the Avengers, we like them, and we want to see more of them as a team. Yes, bringing new people in is fine, but we can’t make the movie about the introduction of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver while the Avengers take a back seat. Tony Stark would definitely have something to say about that. It’s really just a question of how you introduce them and how much information you give the audience about them. Is it necessary to know they’re Magneto’s kids? Eh, probably not. The X-Men movies have been playing fast and loose with the continuity thus far, so why not The Avengers? At best, we just need to know who they are, that they’re mutants, and what mutants are within the world of the Avengers. And with that in mind, let’s turn to yet another point of interest…
How Powerful Are They?
Since the Marvel Universe doesn’t have a Speed Force for speedsters to tap into, Quicksilver can be as fast as you need him to be for the sake of the plot. But what about the Scarlet Witch? In terms of the comics, Wanda is one of the most powerful mutants, if not the most powerful. It was her ability to reshape reality that led to one of the biggest, and universe shattering, stories in the X-Men Universe, House of M (2005). By merely uttering the phrase, “No more mutants,” Wanda reduced the mutant population of Earth from millions to a few hundred, which has only now been rectified in the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men and continued into Marvel NOW!
So, yeah, Wanda’s really, really powerful. She didn’t start out that way, though. Before writer Kurt Busiek upgraded her power set, Scarlet Witch was only capable of affecting probability through her “hexes”, which were usually depicted as concentrations of magenta energy. This leaves the character’s power level up for interpretation. Having someone with Wanda’s abilities would definitely be an asset to the Avengers, but if you still want to keep Thanos as a credible villain, then giving Wanda her current power level would be the equivalent of Dr. Manhattan leveling Vietnam in Watchmen. If she’s just capable of using hexes and manipulating probability, then it gives her something to bring to the table without making the Avengers irrelevant. But incorporating Wanda’s powers, and their chaotic nature, into the story could be useful as well.
The Way I See It
If Thanos is our baddie for Avengers 2 and Guardians of the Galaxy is the lead-in movie, which will likely set up Thanos more than the tease at the end of The Avengers did, then there’s a way of organically bringing Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver into the story.
Assuming a cameo by Tony Stark in Guardians of the Galaxy, it wouldn’t be out of the question for Star-Lord to tell Tony about the oncoming threat of Thanos, prompting Iron Man to return to Earth and inform Nick Fury of the situation. And if Robert Downey, Jr. doesn’t make a cameo, then maybe Guardians of the Galaxy ends with Star-Lord on Earth informing Fury. Either way, the Avengers are needed because Thanos is coming, but even they’re skeptical of their ability to stop him. Fury being Fury, he probably knows about the Maximoff twins and the team that there might be someone out there who could at least be helpful in turning the tide in their favor. The only problem is, Wanda’s not so easy to find. Her powers make her hard to track, but Pietro is another case.
Thus, we get a look at Quicksilver doing his mutant speedster thing, which introduces his powers in the cleanest way possible. As he’s going up against the Avengers, Wanda jumps in because her brother is in trouble and we get a taste not only of her abilities, but also the idea that they’re not entirely stable, which gives you some drama and keeps the Scarlet Witch from being all-powerful and in control. Like in the comics, and in X-Men: Evolution, Pietro is equal parts concerned and afraid of his sister, but he looks after her because he’s the only one she trusts. The Avengers make their case and the Maximoffs come on board. With tons of witty banter!
At least, that’s how I’d do it, but I’m not Joss Whedon, so we’ll see what happens in the far off future of 2015!