Warning: SPOILERS for WandaVision episode 8 – “Previously On”
As WandaVision gives Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) greater prominence than ever before, it also highlights how the Marvel Cinematic Universe failed to resolve Scarlet Witch’s deep ties to Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). The MCU histories of Wanda and her twin brother Pietro (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) are inexorably linked to Tony Stark and his legacy of war profiteering as the head of Stark Industries. But the MCU has never shown Wanda confronting Tony about how Stark essentially ruined her life.
By the time Wanda and Pietro were introduced in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony Stark had been world-famous as Iron Man for several years, both as a solo hero and as part of the Avengers. One of the reasons Tony became Iron Man was to rid the world of Stark Industries weapons which were sold to international criminals like the Ten Rings and used against civilians. Meanwhile, the Maximoff twins, who were orphaned in 1999 when they were 10 years old, were radicalized and joined Hydra. Both Wanda and Pietro were exposed to the Mind Infinity Stone and were granted superpowers, and Hydra intended the twins to be equalizers against the Avengers. But Earth’s Mightiest Heroes still crushed Hydra and the Maximoffs became briefly aligned with Ultron (James Spader) before turning on the homicidal android and his plans to cause a global extinction event. The Maximoff siblings sided with the Avengers against Ultron, but Pietro was killed in the Battle of Sokovia.
Now alone in the world, Wanda was accepted as one of the Avengers and relocated to the United States where she began a relationship with Vision (Paul Bettany). A year later in 2016, a tragic mistake by Wanda during a mission in Lagos, Nigeria led to many fatalities and resulted in the United Nations drafting the Sokovia Accords to make the Avengers accountable. Wanda didn’t sign the Accords and she was unwittingly placed in protective custody by Tony Stark; Clint Barton (Jeremey Renner) then liberated Maximoff so they could join Team Cap, Steve Rogers’ (Chris Evans) group of heroes who rebelled against the Sokovia Accords. Wanda was captured, along with most of Team Cap, in Berlin, and she was imprisoned in the Raft, but Rogers broke them out and they spent the next two years as fugitives. When Thanos (Josh Brolin) and the Black Order came to Earth to collect the Infinity Stones, Steve Rogers’ Secret Avengers, including Wanda, defended the planet, taking a stand against the aliens in Wakanda. Yet Thanos succeeded in assembling the Infinity Gauntlet, killed Vision for the Mind Stone, and wiped out half of all life in the universe – Wanda included.
Wanda was resurrected in Avengers: Endgame and she played a key role in defeating Thanos once and for all, although Tony Stark sacrificed his own life to give the heroes ultimate victory. Wanda attended Tony’s funeral before WandaVision picked up her story, whereupon the tragic sorceress magically took over the town of Westview, New Jersey to create a bizarre TV sitcom fantasy life for herself and Vision, who she resurrected and became her husband. WandaVision went onto shed new light on Maximoff’s origins by revealing the true img of Wanda’s incredible abilities, and that she is really a powerful wielder of chaos magic named the Scarlet Witch. But whatever happens next in Wanda Maximoff’s unusual life, she (and the fans) never got the satisfaction of seeing her resolve her lingering issues with Tony Stark before his death.
Wanda is living proof of the collateral damage of Tony Stark’s weapons. WandaVision depicted what was only spoken of in Avengers: Age of Ultron: How 10-year-old Wanda and Pietro were happily watching DVDs of American sitcoms with their parents when a bomb demolished their tiny Sokovia apartment, instantly killing Oleg (Daniyar) and Iryna Maximoff (Ilana Kohanchi). The orphaned twins spent the next two days terrified that a second explosive emblazoned with the Stark Industries logo would detonate and kill them next, although the bomb never went off. Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) theorized that this was possible because of Wanda’s latent magical abilities.
The tragedy that befell the Maximoff family happened 9 years before Tony Stark was kidnapped by the Ten Rings, became Iron Man, and took responsibility for Stark Industries’ war profiteering by ending his company’s manufacturing of weapons of war. Meanwhile, the actions Maximoff twins took in their formative years, like joining the anti-freedom organization Hydra, was a direct response to Tony Stark’s greed and irresponsibility. Tony becoming a superhero and being rewarded with fame and adulation only rubbed salt in the Maximoff twins’ wounds, which is likely what drove them to volunteer for Hydra’s “Miracles” program for the chance to get revenge on Iron Man.
Incredibly, Wanda Maximoff and Tony Stark only had a single one-on-one scene together in the entire history of the MCU: At the start of Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda sneaked up behind Tony and planted the vision in his mind of the Avengers killed by an unstoppable alien force. Further, Iron Man didn’t even realize Wanda was there and did that to him. Although Tony, Wanda, and Pietro ended up on the same side, Age of Ultron never showed the Maxmimoffs reconcile their issues with Tony Stark either before or after Pietro died.
The main thing Wanda and Pietro had in common with Ultron was their hatred of Tony Stark. Wanda confronted Iron Man again alongside Ultron when they stole Vibranium in South Africa, but Stark was focused on the murderous android he created and he disregarded Ultron’s Sokovian henchmen. When Wanda and Pietro joined the Avengers, they were brought in by Captain America, and they briefly tried to stop the creation of the Vision, but afterward, the focus was on Wanda being afraid, her pep talk by Clint Barton, and her heroically choosing to fight against Ultron. At the end of Age of Ultron, Tony left the team along with most of the original Avengers; Wanda never got any kind of closure with Stark.
The circumstances of Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame meant that Wanda and Tony had zero interactions. Stark returned to Avengers Compound for the announcement of the Sokovia Accords and debated with the heroes why they had to sign it. Tony then took charge of the Avengers when Steve Rogers refused to sign, but he placed Wanda under house arrest and left her under Vision’s care. The last time Tony Stark was in the same vicinity as Wanda Maximoff was during the Avengers civil war at Berlin Airport and later when Stark visited the Raft where Wanda was held captive. Tony was in outer space when Wanda died during Thanos’ snap and then Stark died only minutes after Wanda was resurrected in Avengers: Endgame.
It’s easy and convenient to paint Tony Stark as a villain, especially during the events of Captain America: Civil War, but in his own way, Iron Man tried to do right by Wanda Maximoff, albeit indirectly. It was Stark Industries that funded the Avengers and thus, Tony paid for the comfortable quarters Wanda lived in at Avengers Compound, which was a far cry from the poverty she experienced in Sokovia. Regrettably, Stark neglected to form any type of relationship with Wanda, but he still looked out for her and protected her. Steve Rogers considered Tony detaining her as “house arrest,” but Stark was acting out of Wanda’s best interests. Tony was right that Maximoff was being vilified by the media for the accident in Lagos, that the U.S. government considered Wanda a “weapon of mass destruction,” and she was also in danger because she isn’t a U.S. citizen. Unfortunately, Stark was preoccupied with the big picture (as well as his own fraying mental health) as he tried to hold the Avengers together during Civil War.
Meanwhile, Tony left Wanda in Vision’s care and, in Stark’s view, this was a better option than handling her himself. After all, the Synthezoid was loyal to Mr. Stark since Vision was once J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony’s personal A.I. Further, Vision and Wanda already had feelings for each other so it was a natural fit. Since Vision and Wanda spent so much time together — WandaVision expanded upon how their relationship began with him visiting her in her bedroom — it’s also possible that the Synthezoid tried to help soothe Wanda’s lingering animosity toward Tony. Vision could have explained things that Wanda may not have known, like how Iron Man personally destroyed every Stark Industries weapon sold to extremists, so that what happened to her family wouldn’t happen again. After all, Vision was there as J.A.R.V.I.S. when Tony did this in Iron Man.
Still, the many issues between Tony Stark and Wanda Maximoff were never resolved and this leaves a gaping hole in Wanda Maximoff’s story, which is a huge MCU failure considering how intricately Marvel plots their universe and characters. Barring a return by Robert Downey Jr to the MCU, there likely never will be closure for Scarlet Witch in regards to how Iron Man indirectly ruined her life, regardless of how Stark used his money to try to make up for it when Wanda was an Avenger. This is a shame because Wanda deserved resolution with Tony as a crucial part of her healing process and she was denied it. Ultimately, Tony Stark is the root cause of everything that went wrong in Wanda’s tragic and tumultuous life and she is still dealing with the fallout in WandaVision.