Wanda Maximoff and Peter Parker Are More Similar Than People Realize, but Marvel Really Treated Them Differently
If you have to think of two Avengers that are similar, Wanda Maximoff and Peter Parker are probably not the two that you’d pick. One has red magic that manifests out of her palms while the other wears a tight suit and swings through New York City on a pre-made string he invented. But there’s one thing they used to have in common, and that’s their age. Even when WandaVision asserted that Wanda was actually a lot older than Peter, it didn’t change the fact that she was treated so much younger in her earlier appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
So, how did that change affect the two characters? Story-wise, It propelled them both to exactly where they need to be: big players in the MCU. But one of them is now set to be the most powerful character the soon-to-be multiverse has ever seen.
Wanda Maximoff and Peter Parker were both presumed teens before ‘Captain America: Civil War’
When Wanda Maximoff is first introduced, it’s in the sometimes-forgotten Avengers: Age of Ultron. She comes onto the scene with her brother, Pietro, and the two are villains of sorts, working with Hydra and then Ultron to take down the Avengers because they think it’s the right thing to do from their perspectives.
It’s not disclosed, but Wanda and Pietro could be in their late teens to early 20s, even though Elizabeth Olsen was about 26 or so when the movie premiered. The thing that really disclosed her age to fans, or so they thought, was how the other Avengers treated her.
People still thought Wanda was a teenager in Age of Ultron and then Captain America: Civil War, because she was treated as the youngest at the compound. This could easily be because she had the most unpredictable powers (as was still a concern all the way through Thanos’ snap and WandaVision) and because she was the newest member.
But Steve Rogers also called her kid, which he only ever did with Peter Parker. And Clint Barton also told her, “Look, you wanna mope, you can go to high school.” Both of these instances could also be explained away as figures of speech or, again, her newness to the team. But it’s hard to overlook the fact that Wanda is to Steve as Peter is to Tony, in a way.
But Marvel (and the characters) decided to differentiate Wanda and Peter completely from then on
Peter Parker, aka Spider-Man, has always been a teenager in this MCU timeline. Tom Holland’s Peter is the sometimes tongue-tied, sort of dorky high schooler who Iron Man throws into the mix in Germany in Captain America: Civil War. Fans get to spend more time with him and know more about him in his two solo films and other movies, and he’s always the teen (thanks to the Blip).
Anyway, even though Captain America tries to crush him with a truck, he knows he’s a kid, and Tony very much knows he’s a child as well. But they all throw him into some very dangerous situations until Tony wants to pull back in Spider-Man: Homecoming. From then on, with writing and storytelling, Peter is still a growing teenager.
With Wanda, though, it’s kind of full steam ahead. And after Civil War, she runs off with Vision and she’s no longer seen in a “kid” light. By the time she has her heartbreaking final moments with Vision in Avengers: Infinity War and her groundbreaking fight with Thanos in Avengers: Endgame, thoughts of her possibly being only a couple of years older than Spider-Man is well out the window. Because, again, if she was only in high school in Civil War, she’d barely be a grade or two above Peter through all of this.
However, WandaVision confirmed (or retconned, depending on who you ask), that Wanda was born in 1989, the same year as Olsen who plays her, and so any talk about “kid” or “high school” was all in jest. Yes, she had the mentor/teen vibe when with Steve, but it was very much in the vein of someone looking out for her when no one else was.
In the end, though, their age and mentors are where the similarities stop
This all makes sense, given the actor’s age and where Wanda’s story currently sits. But given the story and how it was established, it’s interesting to look back on and contemplate.
Again, though, Wanda and Peter couldn’t be more different, from their powers, stories, and down to their teams in the Avengers’ Civil War.
Wanda is more aligned with Natasha and Steve, whereas Peter fits in with the funny, snarky, flashy vibe of a contemporary hero such as Iron Man. Plus, whereas Peter Parker needed a father figure — as is the case with most of the iterations of this superhero — Wanda needed a brother or sibling after losing her own. So even though Steve is very much her elder and nowhere near Pietro’s age, he fits the bill, and Natasha could even fit in as a surrogate sister as well. Which, fans now know, could have been felt (and needed) mutually too.
The Avengers don’t always feel like family, and rather like dysfunctional work buddies, but there are moments like these where they fit the bill.
And with Peter Parker possibly at the precipice of his own multidimensional breakdown, about to meet other versions of himself (we have to say allegedly), he’s surely taking a center stage position in this new phase of the MCU. But Wanda is the one that has the power to really make or break not only the Avengers as they stand, but the universe as well.