If we asked you to think of Marvel’s biggest power couples, you’d probably reply with Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Cyclops and Jean Grey. Maybe even Reed Richards and Sue Storm. With two key pieces of casting in place, Avengers: Age of Ultron may be bringing one of Marvel’s most romantic pairings to the big screen for the first time ever. Now that Paul Bettany has been cast as the robotic Vision, the door is open for a romance with Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch.
The first Avengers is entirely romance-free, which is somewhat unusual for a comic book film outside of the ones based on Punisher comics. It’s not necessary to the story there, but the “a little something for everyone” approach is why superhero movies have clicked so well with general audiences in the first place. There’s action, humor, laughs, high stakes, melodrama, big effects and usually some romance. We’re desperately hoping that Bettany and Olsen read opposite each other so that director Joss Whedon could gauge their on-screen chemistry. It’s as important to Avengers history as Cap thawing out of the ice.
Their flirtation and courtship ran through most of the Avengers comics from the early 1970s, with Wanda Maximoff (Scarlet Witch) wondering if she could truly love someone who was a synthetic human (in Marvel terms, not a robot, but a “synthezoid”). Vision struggled with whether a human woman would ever return the love he felt for her. There was a lot of secret, passionate, angst-ridden longing before the two heroes ever confessed their feelings for one another. Once their feelings were out there in the open, even more soap opera conflict reared its head.
Pietro Maximoff, Scarlet Witch’s arrogant superhero brother Quicksilver, was opposed to his sister’s involvement with someone he saw as more machine than man. This superiority complex is a rich part of Quicksilver’s characterization and probably comes directly from his biological father, Magneto. Meanwhile, hotheaded Hawkeye was plenty peeved that the woman he’d been wooing didn’t love him back. Both Hawkeye and Scarlet Witch joined the Avengers at a troubled time in the team’s history (it was the first time that stalwarts like Iron Man and Thor left the team) and both shared roots as reformed villains. Hawkeye certainly got over it more quickly than Quicksilver did, and is present supporting the happy couple on the cover of Giant-Size Avengers #4, the 1975 issue where the superhero lovers finally tied the knot.
In the 1980s the unusual couple proved so popular, they even supported two miniseries that explored their married life. Vision and Scarlet Witch ran for four issues in 1982 and was well-liked enough to get a 12-issue sequel in 1985. But alas, things didn’t stay rosy. When writer-artist John Byrne took over creative duties on West Coast Avengers in 1989, he not only wiped Vision’s memory clean, he left him without emotions as well, which brought one of Marvel’s most popular, lengthy romantic pairings to a fizzling close. Such are comics. Though their past history is still drawn upon by current Marvel writers, Scarlet Witch and Vision never quite recovered as the Avengers’ number one power couple.
The movies could change this. Though Vision is getting an origin overhaul for the film (Bettany voices Iron Man’s onboard computer J.A.R.V.I.S. so the logical conclusion is that J.A.R.V.I.S. is getting his own body), there’s nothing about those changes that mean he can’t become attracted to Scarlet Witch. We’re accustomed to some revisions from the comics to the movies, but we thrill on seeing iconic beats and visuals from the books replicated in live action. Much like Thor swinging Mjolnir or Wolverine saying “Bub,” the true moments of geekery are those things that reflect the printed page onto the silver screen. When and if Vision and Scarlet Witch embrace in Age of Ultron, that should be one of those moments for hard-core fans that make our hairs stand on end. It would be the actualization of a rich comic book history between two beloved characters who never should’ve fallen out of love in the first place. Ah, romance.
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