SPOILER ALERT: Warning, this article contains spoilers from Avengers: Infinity War. Proceed at your own risk.
We’re all asking a lot of questions after Avengers: Infinity War. Where did 50% of our beloved heroes go? Now that he succeeded in his evil plan, will Thanos purchase a couple of Tommy Bahama shirts and retire on a beach somewhere? Will Hawkeye escape house arrest and eventually get to retire on a beach somewhere? Maybe with Thanos?
But here’s a question you might not be asking yourself — one that threatens to crumble the reality of Avengers as we know it: what, in the name of all that is good in Sokovia, happened to Wanda Maximoff’s accent?!
A Notably Sokovian Accent
Though we first met the Scarlet Witch in a Captain America: the Winter Solider post-credit scene, she first graced us with her speaking voice in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She and her since-slain brother Pietro wowed us with their tremendous powers and their tremendously powerful accents.
The rolling consonants, the shortened vowels — Olson’s Sokovian was strategically built upon Slavic accents we know from the real world. After all, Sokovia is meant to be an Eastern European country — it even uses the Cyrillic alphabet. (During Age of Ultron, it’s shown on a map in between real-life nations Slovakia and the Czech Republic.) And Olson’s affectation was as thick as Chicken Paprikash (it’s a real dish, okay? But they eat it a lot in Sokovia).
A Notably Missing Accent
But by Civil War, Wanda’s accent was fading. And by Infinity War, it had vanished. Sure, a few years had gone by, and the Scarlet Witch had been essentially backpacking through Europe with her robotic Romeo, Vision. But this all occurred in our world, one where accents don’t fade in just a couple of years (even if you’re traveling and your boyfriend is Android-American).
Consider another notable MCU accent: King T’Challa’s in Black Panther. Chadwick Boseman openly based his Wakandan accent on the isiXhosa accent; parts of the fictionalized Wakandan language even borrowed from the real-life South African idiom. This remained consistent from Boseman’s first appearance in Captain America: Civil War to his most recent in Avengers: Infinity War.
So why would Wanda’s accent fall by the waste side? Elizabeth Olson is a more than capable actress who can pull of any film, indie and Infinity War alike. Sure, a handful of outspoken fans found her accent jarring, but since when do we start poking holes in fictional universes to appease nitpicking?
Oh — what’s in an accent anyway?
When it comes to fantasy, we can get swept up in the outlandish, the surreal, the unbelievable so long as the rules of the universe make sense. Master world-builders like JK Rowling and George RR Martin understand that this consistency is essential when forming trust between the creator and the fans. We wouldn’t have followed Khaleesi’s path to Westeros if the laws of her dragon motherhood contradicted themselves. If the spells of Hogwarts could change from book to book, we probably wouldn’t have made it to the Chamber of Secrets.
Did I suspend my disbelief when a giant purple Titan appeared out of nowhere, hunting down some jewelry and his bright green step-daughter? Yes. Did I suspend my disbelief when his bright green step-daughter hung out with — and I say this with all due respect in the universe — a frickin’ raccoon and a frickin’ tree? Yes, I did. Did I suspend disbelief when the raccoon sported more of a Brooklyn accent than the Brooklyn-raised Steve Rogers? To paraphrase Rocket Raccoon, yes— why would I wanna suck the joy outta everything? But an accent broken among sequels? Here comes my disbelief.
Say what you want about the quality of Infinity War and Olson’s performance (I am a fan of both), her accent is gone. And that has the potential to yank some fans out of the film and away from its universe. It’s a bummer, but it’s not the end of the world. Nope — that’s up to Thanos.