When the idea of witches and warlocks comes to mind, usually most people would look at them as frightening creatures with pointy hats, long fingernails, ridged teeth, and an old, wrinkly body. They traditionally would be practicing spells or cooking up brews with goblins eyes, werewolf bones, and any other imaginative, Halloween related ingredient you can think of. These natural images may come from tradition, but is it possible that how witches and warlocks are being represented in tv and film is changing?
Marvel has taken a very different route when it comes to portraying its more magical characters in their films. The two that most come to mind are Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange. In my opinion, there seems to be two sides when it comes to the portrayal of these characters. Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange are either supposed to be portrayed as scary or wicked characters that represent traditional themes, or a more attractive and sexual one that is not as traditional when it comes to the witches and warlock characters.
There is an argument for both sides, but let’s start of with the horror portion of their characters. Are they scary? Do Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange have any similarities when it comes to traditional witches and warlocks within the film? Well, yes and no. Between the two of them, Scarlet Witch definitely feels more witchy in appearance and tone. When we first meet her in Avengers: Age of Ultron, she already seems to move around and cast spells in a very crooked-like manner. Her manipulation with people’s dreams also feels like something a traditional witch would do too, but I think traditional witches would rather use potions to make that work than attempt to give people nightmares from their minds. Imagine how much fear Wanda could give someone when they were sleeping, or not sleeping. Witches are known to scare people to death, and I feel that Wanda does have that ability. So, I think her witchy-like abilities of scaring the crap out of people checks out perfectly.
Doctor Strange’s powers, unlike Wanda’s, are very broad and the idea that he could send people through twisted, alternate dimensions could definitely give someone a good fright. However, unlike Scarlet Witch, Doctor Strange doesn’t seem as threatening as a character as people might think. Maybe it’s the amazing cloak he’s wearing that makes him look less intimidating, or maybe it’s the fact that his abilities like teleportation and time bending would be more fun to be a part of than scary. Plus, Doctor Strange loses points for spell casting in his movies because he never calls out any of his spells like in the games or TV shows. I would love to hear Benedict Cumberbatch yell “Crimson bands of Cyttorak” when binding his opponents with his spells. Nevertheless, Doctor Strange does feel less like a traditional warlock and more of a modern one.
Now, as much as I love Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange, they definitely seem to be trying to go for a more sex appeal type of character then a traditional scary one. For example, if the creators wanted to go full out with the Scarlet “Witch” theme, they would have tried to make her as ugly as possible. Long nose, crusty long nails, warts on the side of her face, that sounds like a more traditional witch to me. The same can be said for Doctor Strange, though admittedly warlocks are less known to be ugly and have been portrayed more as handsome characters unlike the female witches of the past. The sex appeal here when it comes to these two characters is the result of one place and one place alone, Hollywood. Most of the time, Hollywood is to blame when it comes to casting overly attractive actors so more people can come see their movies. This is because sex appeal brings in big money for them and casting someone less attractive apparently is a big no no over there in Los Angeles. Think about it: if Doctor Strange looked more like a typical warlock, would you go and see his movie then? If Scarlet Witch looked more like a traditional witch like you see in kids’ books, would you still be interested in her character? Hollywood seems to believe that if these characters are not sexy, they are not heroes. Yet, aren’t witches and warlocks supposed to be villains anyway? Or maybe there are some good witches and warlocks in film that follow the traditional, representation of these characters.
In the end, I feel that Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange can be portrayed as both scary and sexy characters. Some traditional elements are there, it’s just clear that Hollywood wants to modernize these traditions and make them more appealing to audiences. Maybe when Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness comes out in the spring of 2021 things will become more frightening due to the sequel being a horror film. I guess we will just have to wait and see.