Scarlet Witch Costume History
Like many heroes in the Marvel Universe, Wanda Maximoff started out as a villain. Of course, she was the daughter of the famous mutant villain Magneto and was probably destined to spend a little time on the wrong side of the law. The Scarlet Witch was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for the 1964 issue of X-Men #4. For her first appearance she would be working with the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants alongside her twin brother Quicksilver. Despite starting out as X-Men villains, these twins would be fighting as the good guys and join Avengers a year later. Few characters have been able to change the Marvel Universe as much as the Scarlet Witch. Over the years writers have slowly increased her powers until she has become almost godlike. At first her mutant powers gave her the ability to manipulate probability over short ranges and within her line of sight. As the Scarlet “Witch” she would use her powers to “hex”. This would usually involve bolts of power being thrown from her hands. She would tire after prolong use and sometimes her hexes would backfire. Writer Kurt Busiek would give Wanda her first big power boost by giving her the ability to manipulate chaos magic. She literally had the power of life. She was now able to resurrect the dead and create a child while skipping the usual steps. Later writer Brian Michael Bendis made it so Wanda was able to completely alter reality. With all this power Wanda was able to create an entire new reality in the House of M storyline and when it concluded she returned the world to normal, except for the small detail of making sure 90% of the mutant population was stripped of their powers. With so much power at her fingertips it is understandable how she has lost her mind on more than one occasion.
The first Scarlet Witch costume would be very similar to what would eventually become her signature outfit. All of her clothing would be different shades of red. When you have scarlet as the first part of your codename, color option are going to be limited. The red bathing suit with straps would be much like the fashionable Esther Williams swimsuits of the time. She had matching long red opera gloves. The short boots would sometimes be red and at other times black with red stripes. Underneath her swimsuit, gloves and boots would be a light red (sometimes pink) leotard that would cover her entire body. At this time only her face and hair would be exposed to the elements. Rather than wearing a mask, she would don a wimple. To complete the comic book costume ensemble, Wanda was given a classic red superhero cape.
A wimple has a very interesting history. These garments are worn to the cover the head and wrap around the neck or chin. It was created in medieval Europe when it was improper for a married woman to show her hair. In the 15th century Italian women redesigned them to show off their elaborate hairstyles and thus status. Today it is still worn by nuns. The Scarlet Witch is fully covered, yet has a very sensual costume. She identifies herself as a witch, yet adds a piece of clothing associated with nuns. It is fascinating how a simple piece of fabric can reflect the complexity of a character.
I am done with the deep thinking. I will now move on to the sarcasm and humor usually associated with these articles.
A short time after joining the Avengers, Wanda would make some slight alterations to her wardrobe. This new look would become her signature costume. The light red, full body leotard would remain the same. Her bathing suit was now strapless and would would have a larger V cut at the top. Her gloves would be shortened and the boots were lengthened and made flush with her costume. The red cape was still wrapped around her neck. The biggest change would be in the style of her headpiece. It would fit almost like an oversize tiara and be in the shape of an M. It is this headpiece that people identify with the Scarlet Witch. With her last name being Maximoff this was a nice way to blend her true identity with that of her alter ego. The Scarlet Witch would change out her boots or gloves but the overall costume design would remain constant for years. Although not a drastic change from her original costume the overall look was more sleek.
With some minor changes this would also be the costume that she would return to time and time again. However, the boots or gloves might be changed or a belt would be added.
For a short period of time the Scarlet Witch was possessed by Chthon. The longer she was possessed by this evil Elder god, the more demonic her appearance would become. By the end she was looking like a female Mephisto. Her long red hair was disheveled, giving her a wild crazy look. Rather than wearing layers of clothing, she now had on a dark red one-piece bodysuit. The cape around her neck was now tattered. She had become the evil witch children are scared with in stories. What we can learn from this experience is when heroes suddenly switch to a red or darker red costume in the Marvel Universe, it is time for people to panic. This happened to Jean Grey and the Scarlet Witch. When will they learn???
The Scarlet Witch would become pregnant with twins, when she was infused with more magical powers. She and her husband Vision (an android) would retire from the Avengers and raise a family. Being pregnant with twins required a less form fitting costume, giving herself plenty of room to grow. Wanda started wearing a loose halter top in the same design of her previous bathing suit. The bottom portion looked more like baggy hotpants. The long opera gloves from her first costume would reappear. Since pregnant women are known for their balance and immunity to swelling feet, Wanda went with highheel boots. The rest of the costume would stay the same.
Wanda the Wicked Witch
Through a series of unfortunate events (yes I did that) Wanda lost her children and Vision was reduced to an android with no emotional connections. Suffering so many traumatic events over a short period of time led the Scarlet Witch to a mental breakdown. She would rejoin The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants and once again fight alongside Magneto and Quicksilver. As a villainess it would be time for another costume update. This would be the first time her full body leotard would be solid black. Her cape would become a light purple and look more like something worn by royalty than a comic book character. She was obviously embracing her roots as Magneto’s daughter. She still had on a form fitting red bathing suit but the boots would become thigh high and her gloves looked like something worn by a mad scientist. She no longer wore a headpiece and her hair was cut short. With her short curly hair exposing her ears, Wanda took to wearing big earrings. It is very important to look good even when you are bad.
The Scarlet Witch would make another costume change shortly before Avengers West Coast came to an end and Force Works would be created from its old members by Iron Man. Once again we find a superhero costume that is a decade behind the times. This getup looks like something out of an 80s exercise video or trashy cocktail waitress. She stuck with the red bathing suit but instead of wearing a leotard underneath she had a long red dress that came down in flaps. It worked more in replacing the flowing cape effect than actually cover any of her up. This would be the first time the Scarlet Witch’s costume would show off so much of her flesh. Scandalous! Along with getting rid of the cape, the large M tiara was also scrapped. Instead, she had a large red necklace and sometimes a sweatband as her accessories. As team leader the costume was meant to make her appear stronger and more commanding. Failing to do this, the costume was quickly scrapped.
Avengers Quick Change
Taking advantage of several Avengers changing their costumes, the Scarlet Witch did the same. These slight changes did a wonderful job in making her look more respectable. Although still having an extremely high slit, the dress looked like a dress and not a couple pieces of fabric dangling in the wind. The dress would have baggy sleeves and exposed her shoulders but the rest of her was covered in a black bodysuit worn under her other clothing. She would also wear large thigh high boots with decorations on the front. These symbols on the boots almost looked like magical incantations, adding to her witch identity.
The Scarlet Witch’s gypsy costume would probably be her most dramatic change. She still had the M headgear and the little fabric she had was red but from there it goes off in its own direction. This costume looks more like she is ready to bellydance than fight for justice. She had a small bodice on her top and that was it. Her gloves went all the way up her arms and her cape was worn almost like a trench coat. She had a heavily jeweled belt with fabric attached to form a skirt. She would also wear a choker, earrings and lots of other jewelry. She definitely looked as if she was ready to perform.
Signature Costume Updated
Wanda would wear another Scarlet Witch costume very similar to her signature look but it had enough changes to warrant a new category. The red cape, opera gloves, boots and large M Tiara were all present. However, rather than wearing a bathing suit and leotard, she had a red bodysuit that can be found on many superheroes. It was cut at the top to resemble her old swimsuit but left her shoulders and upper chest exposed. It would run down her entire body and there was no longer any need for underclothing. To replace the pink leotard, there were simple pink lines running down the sides of the costume. She also wore a yellow belt or strand of jewels to clearly separate the upper and lower portions of her costume.
The Scarlet Witch may be vital to the story lines in the Marvel Universe but she does not have as much recognition in the world outside of comics. For this reason fans have had to make their own costumes if they want to dress up as Wanda Maximoff.
The Scarlet Witch’s next costume would be the first one that actually looked like something she could wear into battle as opposed to the beach or a dance club. Rather than wearing very thin fabrics this costume looks to be made from leather or some other durable material. The corset and pants were extremely tight but appear to be plated for added protection. It even looks as if they gave her some knee pads. Her cape is fastened with a yellow broach, adding just a little color to this blood red costume. To me, this is the first costume to reflect the power that the Scarlet Witch possesses.
Google Images (Images appeared on several sites and was unsure of original)
And of course: Reading way too many comic books.