Who Are Wiccan and Speed?
Like so many mutants in the Marvel Universe, Billy Kaplan and Tommy Shepherd grew up thinking they were perfectly ordinary children. That is, until their powers began to manifest as teenagers. But these two long-lost twin brothers are unusual even among the mutant community. They’re the sons of Scarlet Witch and Vision, making them members of quite possibly the most convoluted family tree in the entire Marvel Universe.
Though they’re both young and still learning the true potential of their powers, both Wiccan and Speed have already left a mark on the Marvel Universe. As regular members of the Young Avengers and other superhero squads, they’re more than happy to keep the family legacy alive and fight against whatever evils might arise.
They’re the sons of Scarlet Witch and Vision, making them members of quite possibly the most convoluted family tree in the entire Marvel Universe.
The Origins of Scarlet Witch’s Children
Wiccan and Speed were created by writer Allan Heinberg and artist Jim Cheung, with Wiccan debuting in 2005’s Young Avengers #1 and Speed following in Young Avengers #10.
Given that their mother is a spell-caster and their father is an android, it goes without saying that Wiccan and Speed have a pretty unusual origin story. Wanda and Vision have shared a tumultuous romantic history over the years. Because Vision is an artificial being known as a Synthezoid, he’s not actually capable of fathering biological children of his own. In response, Wanda magically creates two twin sons to complete their nuclear family. They were born in 1986’s The Vision and the Scarlet Witch Vol. 2, #12.
That’s only the beginning of a very convoluted origin, however. Long story short, Wanda eventually learns her sons’ souls are formed from an aspect of the demon lord Mephisto. After Mephisto reclaims that energy, Wanda and Vision’s children are seemingly wiped out of existence and Wanda is made to forget she ever had children. Sadly, those memories are never entirely scrubbed away, which leads to some very dark days for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in 2004’s Avengers Disassembled.
The good news is that Wanda and Vision’s children weren’t destroyed. Rather, their souls are reincarnated in new bodies to be raised by new surrogate parents. Once Billy and Tommy come to grips with their growing powers and their direct connection to the Avengers, their shared superhero destiny truly begins. Both have overcome plenty of adversity already, with Billy facing regular bullying due to his being gay and Tommy becoming an unwitting test subject in a sinister government facility.
Wiccan and Speed Cheat Sheet
First Appearances:Young Avengers (2005) #1 (Wiccan), Young Avengers (2005) #10 (Speed), The Vision and the Scarlet Witch (1986) Vol. 2, #12 (as babies)
Creators:Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung
Current Team:Strikeforce (Wiccan)
Recommended Reading:Young Avengers by Allan Heinberg & Jim Cheung: The Complete Collection, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade, Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie: The Complete Collection
Billy and Tommy’s Powers
In terms of their powers, Wiccan and Speed are practically carbon copies of Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, respectively. As his name suggests, Speed can run at supersonic speeds and can even move fast enough to vibrate through solid barriers. He also has enhanced strength and durability, allowing his body to endure those extreme forces. Speed even has one ability his uncle doesn’t. He can accelerate the kinetic energy of objects he touches, causing them to vibrate and explode.
Like Wanda, Billy is a sorcerer whose powers are derived from his mutant biology rather than any supernatural artifacts or magical training. He can alter reality on a fundamental level, allowing him to do everything from fly to teleport to fire destructive energy blasts. Because he has little formal training, Billy doesn’t have a great deal of control over his powers. He often has to focus his mind by saying, “I want to [insert spell here]” during battle.
When he first appeared on the superhero scene, Billy used the codename Asgardian rather than Wiccan, with his costume and emphasis on lightning-based spells both suggesting he was somehow connected to Thor. However, that proved not to be the case, and Billy has since changed codenames to better reflect his true nature.
Wiccan is a figure of great interest to the rest of Marvel’s magical community, with everyone from Loki to Doctor Strange predicting Billy will one day grow to become one of the most powerful beings in the universe. Billy gets a taste of this future when he briefly becomes an all-powerful being called the Demiurge, but he quickly decides he’s not ready to wield such power.
Billy and Tommy Maximoff? Wanda’s Convoluted Family Tree
When it comes to Marvel bloodlines, the Maximoff family tree rivals the Summers family tree for its sheer number of members and confusing, contradictory history. As we’ve already discussed, Billy and Tommy are technically the children of Scarlet Witch and Vision. However, they aren’t really related to Vision by blood (since he has none). And because they were both reincarnated in new bodies after that nasty Mephisto business, they each technically have their own biological parents as well. Because of that, they don’t actually use the Maximoff name, even if they are part of that complex genealogical tapestry.
It doesn’t help that Wanda and her brother Pietro have a deeply confusing family tree even without factoring Billy and Tommy into things. When the characters first debuted in 1964’s The X-Men #4, they were depicted simply as Magneto’s underlings in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Initially the duo believe the Romani couple Django and Marya Maximoff are their parents. Later, they’re given reason to believe they’re the offspring of WWII-era heroes The Whizzer and Miss America (which probably explains the apparent Whizzer cameo in Episode 2). But then they discover they’re actually the children of Magneto himself, a fact that proves just as surprising to the Master of Magnetism. Because Magneto has another daughter Polaris, that means Wanda and Pietro have a sister.
That plot twist remained in effect until 2014’s AXIS, where a corrupted Wanda attempts to cast a curse on her family members and finds only Pietro is affected. It turns out Magneto isn’t their father after all, nor are they actually mutants. The twins later learn their true mother is Natalya Maximoff, a witch and a relative of Django and Marya. Natalya gave up her children in order to protect them from the dangers of witchcraft. The twins were experimented upon by the High Evolutionary as infants, before being returned to the Maximoffs to be raised in obscurity. As for the true source of their powers, even the High Evolutionary seems uncertain at this point.
It remains to be seen if Marvel will shake up the Maximoff family tree yet again. It’s widely assumed this latest retcon was a result of Marvel’s feud with Fox over the X-Men’s film rights and a way to sever Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver’s ties to the X-Men franchise. But with Disney’s purchase of Fox, there’s no longer a need to draw that line. Does this mean the family connection between Magneto, Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver will be restored? That may depend on how the MCU handles Wanda’s back-story and the introduction of Wiccan and Speed.
Wiccan and Speed’s Superhero Teams
Wiccan and Speed are most closely associated with the Young Avengers, having served on pretty much every incarnation of this teen superhero team. Wiccan is actually a founding member, as he joins forces with his boyfriend Hulkling (a shape-shifting Kree/Skrull hybrid), underage super-soldier Patriot (grandson of one of the original Captain America test subjects) and the time-travelling Iron Lad (find out more about him in our Kang the Conqueror explainer) to fill the void left after the Avengers have disbanded. Tommy joins the team shortly after, along with new Hawkeye Kate Bishop.
While the Young Avengers roster has shifted a bit in the years since, both Wiccan and Speed tend to be fixtures in that lineup. Wiccan has also stepped up to the big leagues and served as a full-fledged Avenger. He was a member of the short-lived Avengers Idea Mechanics, a re-branded version of the evil science organization AIM spearheaded by its new owner Sunspot. More recently, Wiccan has reluctantly joined a team called Strikeforce, as he and other heroes like Blade, Spectrum and the Winter Soldier deal with being replaced by shape-shifting impostors. Marvel is also teasing a remixed Guardians of the galaxy lineup in 2021 that includes both Wiccan and Hulkling.
The Young Avengers also have a long history of joining forces with the Runaways, another teen superhero team who inspired the Hulu series. Their original team-up occurred during the backdrop of the Civil War crossover, and it’s become something of a trend for the two teams to reunite during major Marvel conflicts.
Wiccan and Speed in TV and Games
- Games: While Wiccan and Speed don’t have a long track record of appearing outside Marvel’s comics, that certainly looks to be changing in the near future. Neither character has yet appeared in a movie or TV series, either live-action or animated. However, they have appeared in a handful of Marvel video games, including as playable characters in LEGO Marvel’s Avengers. Wiccan is also a playable character in Marvel Future Fight and was available as an alternate skin for Scarlet Witch in Marvel Heroes before that much-loved action RPG was terminated.
- TV: Presumably, both characters will make their MCU debuts in WandaVision. As of the end of the second episode, we learn Wanda is pregnant, though there’s no confirmation she’s giving birth to twins yet. But we see no reason why the series would diverge from the source material here. And given the wholly supernatural origin of this pregnancy, there’s no reason to assume Wanda and Vision will need to wait the full nine months to meet their sons. Perhaps the real question is whether Billy and Tommy will stay infants over the course of the series or magically age up to become full-fledged teen heroes. We could see the MCU jettisoning some of the more complicated elements of Billy and Tommy’s back-story, but we could also see WandaVision drawing from the classic Avengers comics. Will Wanda seemingly lose her children by the end of the series? Will that loss fuel her character arc in Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness? Will her sons be reincarnated in new bodies? We’ll have to see what twists lie in store over the course of the series.
Will the Young Avengers Join the MCU?
Ever since the release of Avengers: Endgame, we’ve suspected Marvel Studios is slowly paving the way for the Young Avengers in Phase 4 or 5. The seemingly imminent debuts of Wiccan and Speed only lend further fuel to that fire. At this point, nearly every core member of that team has either been introduced or will be making their debut soon. Scott Lang’s daughter Cassie has already appeared in several movies, with Endgame even conveniently aging her up to become a teenager. Hailee Steinfeld’s Kate Bishop is starring in the upcoming Hawkeye series. Kang the Conqueror is reportedly joining the MCU soon, which means Iron Lad could well follow. At this point that only leaves Patriot and Hulkling, and we could easily see both characters debuting in one of a number of upcoming MCU projects. And there’s no reason Marvel couldn’t work other teen heroes into the MCU’s version of the Young Avengers, like Spider-Man and Ms. Marvel.
While Billy and Tommy officially enter the MCU in the third episode of WandaVision, at this point they’re still infants. Obviously, Marvel needs some way of aging up the twins if they’re going to be taking part in the Young Avengers anytime soon. Again, their magical origin and accelerated births may be all the explanation needed. Alternatively, if the MCU follows the comics by forcing Wanda to sacrifice her sons, then they could be reincarnated 15 or 16 years in the past, conveniently allowing them to return in new bodies shortly after the events of WandaVision.
Written by Jesse Schedeen