Drama And Allure: Kevin Wada Talks About Redesigning The Scarlet Witch
Scarlet Witch has been a growing force in the Marvel Universe of late. Not only has she been a fixture of Uncanny Avengers, but she’s made appearances in the all new Doctor Strange, and The Vision, and of course she made her big screen debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron, played by Elizabeth Olsen.
And now she's the star of her own ongoing series, from writer James Robinson and a roster of star artists, including issue #1's Vanesa R. Del Rey. The series sees Wanda dig in to the nature of witchcraft in the Marvel Universe, and the book has received particular buzz for its new costume designs; created by the always stylish Kevin Wada. ComicsAlliance spoke to Wada about the redesign, its cues from modern fashion, and how modernization plays into Wanda’s new direction.
ComicsAlliance: Your designs have always been appealing to me; the synthesis of couture and super heroes is something I revel in. I'd imagine redesigning Wanda was a perfect but challenging assignment for you. I love everything about the redesign, from its modern notes to its subtle and witchy vibes. In terms of power set, was her new garb created intentionally for flair, function, or both?
Kevin Wada: I think you nailed it on the head with the witchy undertones. The key words going in to the redesign were "gothic" and "romantic."
The editor I worked with, Emily Shaw, gave me a great jumping off point and really let me go all in on the fashion design elements to the costume. After we set out a good base, she asked me to reel it in, make it more "superhero-y", and add elements of Wanda's original design to help ground the look in the Marvel universe. So, I would say we were definitely focused on the flair, before the function. I don't think I'm alone in seeing that most of Wanda's costumes have held function to a second priority.
CA: Crimson is a powerful and rich tone in wardrobing. I see you've toned down Wanda's original costume to more of a bordeaux, with black as a base to balance it out. Why this direction in color?
KW: Well, with the witchier elements being thrown into the mix, I saw this as an opportunity to mix up her color scheme a bit and add some drama and contrast. I tend to favor colors that are usually just a little "off," if that makes sense. I'm not keen on picking a crayon right out the box and using it as is. She couldn't just be crimson, she had to be deeper and more complex.
I think in the series she will have more of her brighter red, which is totally fine, and I think will play off the black much better. David Aja, with his beautiful graphic style, is utilizing a bright red versus black design that is looking just killer.
CA: Wanda's other most iconic calling card is her headdress. How intimidating was it to redesign the headdress, and what was the process like?
KW: It was so intimidating. I am prepared to be unpopular in my disdain for her original headdress, iconic though it may be. It always felt a bit awkward to me, and a bit cookie-cutter --- a design element from the '50s and '60s that had permeated just a few too many costumes. I know it's blasphemy to say.
Going into the new costume, we knew we wanted to base it off of some kind of head jewelry. Originally, it was going to deviate from the original look much more. I wanted something that laid flat against the dome of her head --- something more royal and simple. Emily knew we couldn't ditch the iconic shape though, so we made it into something that is almost crown-like. The jewel elements are still there, married to the peaks and angles of the original headdress.
CA: You typically pull from a few high fashion influences. As a fellow fashion obsessive, I love your nods to Dior, YSL and Givenchy. Any juicy designer influences this time around? I think I see some Proenza and Isabel Marant influence in this look particularly.
KW: It's always hard for me to turn away from mid-century elegance --- which may be the hints of Dior you're seeing? --- but I had no conscious design houses or trends I was seeking to follow.
I think the darkly romantic vibe of the new costume certainly has echoes of classic YSL and Givenchy "looks." If you're picking up on anything, it's nothing that I was consciously doing nods to, but I think when it all comes together you can sort of see the aesthetics I favor in the fashion world.
CA: Wanda's story will focus on the state of witchcraft in Marvel and Wanda's quest to save other witches. Is the larger presence of magic something that was factored into her look?
KW: I actually knew very little about the direction this new series was going to take, so I can't say any plot lines had any affect on her costuming. When I posted the process shots and scrapped designs for Wanda, a lot of people did pick up on a Carmen Sandiego vibe that certainly would lend itself to a world-traveling-quest adventure if she were to have one. I was told by the editors we might get to see her in some of the unused designs at some point in her journey, so cross your fingers and toes!
CA: What is Wanda to you? How did you express that in your design?
KW: There are very few characters I attribute a matriarchal energy toward, Storm being another. I don't know much about Wanda, admittedly, but she's felt royal and authoritative to me. Womanly, intelligent, powerful and mysterious. All those qualities contributed to a design that I hope readers find full of drama and allure.
CA: Lastly; what was your favorite part of designing Wanda?
KW: I think the outwear of her costume was my favorite. We ended up with something of a capelet for her, a cheeky nod to fashion and superheroics. It's both modern and throwback, and I hope the artists drawing her have fun with the silhouettes and shapes they can make with it. We had a lot of fun rejected options for outerwear that I hope make it into the stories at some point.