There is a reason I wanted to start this new monthly column with this particular dreamcast. This was the first one that really stopped me in my tracks, the first one I was truly proud of, and the first one that blew my mind. The best part is that with the rise of comic book movies it’s not unheard of for an actor with an upstanding resume to appear in a leading role. So I present to you, my first Dreamcasting with Denise, Marion Cotillard as Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch.
You might recognize Marion Cotillard from her outstanding work in films like Inception, Midnight in Paris, or Dark Knight Rises. In all three of these movies she portrayed a batshit crazy but beautifully, haunted woman. Not “haunted” as in ghosts and demons and other things episodes of Supernatural are full of but “haunted” as in, there is an underlying psychosis just behind your eyes and I am intrigued. Even though she had already appeared in Big Fish, her real breakout role was La Vie en Rose where she captured the tragic story of the French singer, Edith Piaf. Edith was talented and striking but found herself in a whirlwind of melodrama and vices.
In Inception Marion played Mal Cobb, and this is where I first really noticed how amazing she was. (If you haven’t seen Inception, what is wrong with you go watch it right now because that movie was incredible, like how do you even understand half the pop culture references since 2010?!) During the whole movie she keeps popping up and you know from the get-go that shit is not going to end well for her. JGL’s character, Arthur, acts like the grounded moral compass of the team and he is constantly worried about how she might affect their plans. Her big scene involves a trashed hotel room and a couple open windows. I remember holding my breath every time she was on screen because she set the tone of unpredictability.
In Midnight in Paris she plays Adriana, the muse of Picasso and the protagonist falls madly in love with her free spirit and wild musings. After declaring their mutual attraction and affection she abruptly leaves him, just like all the other men she’s seen with throughout the course of the film. I actually loved that about her, Gil (played by Owen Wilson) begins to put her on this pedestal and sees her as someone who needs to be saved when in reality Adriana is in much more control of that. She is perfectly content bouncing around Paris looking for pure happiness.
Before I even get into the actual movie, when she was cast in Dark Knight Rises there was a lot of speculation that she would be playing Talia al Ghul but in order to keep the integrity (hah!) of the film intact she played the dumb card kept insisting to the media that her character’s name was Miranda Tate, a work colleague of Bruce Wayne’s. She gave numerous interviews claiming that Miranda Tate is a good guy and that any rumors of Talia were ludicrous. Understandably, she wanted her big reveal to be just that, a big reveal, but you could see Marion start to break in red carpet interviews as the movie got closer to its release date. I distinctly remember one instance where she lost her cool and snapped at a correspondent who kept pushing for a confirmation on Talia.
This only made that scene in Rises that much more satisfying because, let’s be real, we all knew. Everything about her silky charm and feigned distress screamed Talia and while we didn’t feel the deep betrayal Bruce did, most of us still gasped. Why? Because Marion did a fantastic job at showing us the crazy lurking just below the surface. Talia al Ghul is a woman driven by loyalty and honor and power, just not the way good people are. I suppose it’s like people with a shoe fetish, it’s one thing to appreciate a beautiful pair of Marc Jacobs but it’s another thing to want to put your penis inside that soft leather sandal.
These three instances are exactly why I think Marion would be perfect for Scarlet Witch. Now, I actually really like Wanda Maximoff, if there is anything I totally get it is self-doubt and daddy issues. Oh man, we’re shopping for the same bag of crazy in that sense. But what makes Scarlet Witch perfect for Marion Cotillard isn’t that she’s flat-out cuckoo, it’s her tragic life. Wanda, and her brother Pietro (keep an eye for Quicksilver in an upcoming Boy Crazy Comics) become orphans and unknowingly fall under the villainous wing of their long-lost father Magneto but soon realize that being a baddie isn’t the ideal endgame they turn themselves over and become Avengers. After decades of fighting allegations of secretly still being in cahoots with the dad and subtle implications of sibling incest (or in the case of The Ultimates, not so subtle) she finally breaks and creates one of the biggest evens to ever hit Marvel Comics, House of M.
Back to Marion for a second, she is one of those actresses that holds your attention hostage and after the initial couple seconds of fear you don’t really mind. She is beautiful but not in the typical Playboy bunny way, she has an aura of elegance that makes her eventual spark of madness so much more compelling. Marion really captures the break of insanity that is hard for any of us to look away from. She’s not just relying on the derangement of a character, she’s breathing it to life and wrapping it up in the prettiest paper and ribbons so you want to open it and let it consume you.
Scarlet Witch is a nuclear power plant. She holds the unbelievable mutation to alter reality and while everyone wants to think they can control her, she’s her own force of nature. Nothing can hold her back but herself but that kind of restraint could only cause some sort of mental break eventually. She spends most of her life questioning her own allegiances, is she fighting evil because it’s the right thing to do or because she wants to make amends for the atrocities she took part in during her time in the Brotherhood of Mutants? Do the people around her really care for her or is her mutant ability subconsciously making them love her. How do you reign in that kind of power? How do you not spend every moment, every breath constantly questioning your life?
I believe that Marion would knock this out of the park. She could make audiences fall in love with Wanda’s grace while still making us a little nervous. Plus, she loves roles featuring the tragically unhinged and what’s more tragically unhinged than marrying a robot and making babies out of nothingness then decimating most of the mutant population?