Marvel Studios continues to have a good year, with both Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World showing bigger box office earning than their respective pre-Avengers predecessors, and that success train is likely to keep rolling right on through Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, before Avengers: Age of Ultron comes to shatter the records of ITS predecessor in 2015.
Besides the introduction of the titular evil robot (to be played in motion-capture by actor James Spader), Avengers 2 will also introduce (at least) two new superpowered characters in the form of brother/sister duo Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson). And while Quicksilver's super-speed is known to all, the nature of Scarlet Witch's abilities in Joss Whedon's mega-sequel has been something of question - and a potentially pivotal one, at that.
First off: While at the press junket for Spike Lee's Oldboy remake, Olsen outright confirmed (what we already knew) by owning up to playing the role of Scarlet Witch. But having the character in the Avengers universe is a tricky thing, since her usual backstory and powers (mutant daughter of X-Men villain Magneto, reality-altering "hex" powers) are actually owned by Fox, not Marvel Studios, and ergo can't be used in Avengers 2.
If you've been following our recent Marvel Movie reporting, you know that the events of Thor 2 set up a storyline that could culminate with Thanos in Avengers 3 - while also explaining how Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver get their unique powers. It's an issue that fans are both curious and worried about at the moment; but for Elizabeth Olsen, it's all about just keeping focus on the character, while having fun in the big, bad Marvel sandbox.
When asked how she plans to ground a character like Scarlet Witch - as opposed to the real-world characters she's mostly played:
Elizabeth Olsen: The same way, I think! I actually feel really good that I just did a play because it requires so much imagination, you know? To acknowledge the fact that all these people are here, but you're making up this room that your in that you're not in, or whatever...
So far I'm just doing a lot of reading right now on Scarlet Witch and it's really exciting. But the imagination, like to a child, and like running around in a play yard is what it feels like right now. And that sounds like so much fun, but you still want to approach it with the same kind of like 'No, this is where she's from,' and it's real. And that's what's fun about it. Let them put on the costume or do the special whatever-they-need-to-do to make it look special, but I'll just do my part - it just has more extreme things to it. [Laughs] I'm like really excited about Scarlet Witch.
Asked to elaborate, Olsen expressed excitement about aspects of Scarlet Witch that she's learning from the comics:
Elizabeth Olsen: The most recent thing I learned - I don't even know if it has anything [to do with the film], it's just fun to read these comics - it's just so fun! Like, she's a 'nexus,' like she's the only human being from this universe who can communicate with paranormal things and the past and the future and other universes; like to me that's pretty incredible! [Laughs] Like just thinking about that is amazing! To touch things and know where they've been, that's crazy!
Avengers 2 will be written by Joss Whedon, whose track record for creating female characters speaks for itself (Buffy, Dollhouse) - but the excact powers he'll endow Scarlet Witch with remain a mystery for now. The director has commented on the issue in the past, stating the following:
Joss Whedon: “Besides the fact that I grew up reading them, their powers are very visually interesting. One of the problems I had on the first one was everybody basically had punchy powers. [Quicksilver]’s got super speed. [Scarlet] can weave spells and a little telekinesis, get inside your head. There’s good stuff that they can do that will help sort of keep it fresh.”
It's hard (from a continuity standpoint) to have a character who can alter reality on a whim running around your universe; by the same token, it's hard to sacrifice an actress of Olsen's talent and rising fame so early in the franchise. And since "mutant" is an illegal word in the Marvel Studios continuity, the source of Scarlet Witch's powers will have to make sense within the franchise storyline - especially if she's sticking around for that Avengers 3 showdown we predict.
What kind of Scarlet Witch would YOU like to see in Age of Ultron? Reality-alteration? Telekensis? Some other interpretation?
OldBoy will be in theaters on November 27, 2013. Stay Tuned for more coverage from the press day.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1, 2015, Ant-Man on July 31, 2015, and unannounced films for May 6 2016, July 8 2016 and May 5 2017.
Scarlet Witch Header by Adam Hughaes