If You Step Out That Door

Wanda Maximoff from Marvel's Avengers

One of my favorite moments in Avengers: Age of Ultron is when Wanda Maximoff (aka the Scarlet Witch, although you’d never know it just from watching the movie) is huddled in a traumatized, whimpering heap in the corner of a building while genocidal robots overrun her city — traumatized not because she’s a coward (she’s anything but), but because she’s realized her own complicity in what’s happening.

“This is all our fault,” she says, hands over her ears against the destruction outside. “How could I have let this happen?”

Up until that point, Wanda has never exactly been a hero. She’s an immensely (immensely) powerful young lady with a desire to help her people and a personal vendetta; THAT deadly combination leads to that moment of trauma. At this juncture she’s chosen to be on the good side rather than the bad side, but that’s about as far as it goes.

Clint Barton, catching a few breaths in the building beside her, gives the movie’s best speech. “Listen,” he says (I’m paraphrasing), “you can stay in here and be safe if you want to; there’s no shame in that. I’ll send your brother to come get you. But I’m going back out there because it’s my job, and I don’t have time to do my job and babysit. So if you want to stay safe, stay safe–

“But if you step out that door, you’re an Avenger.”

She takes a minute to think about it.

And then she steps out that door.

In my opinion, it’s one of the best hero introductions in the MCU to date–an immensely powerful moment both visually and in the arcs of both character and plot.

Since I’m a firm believer that all stories reflect the Big Story, and I have a lot of fun finding parallels in Marvel movies particularly, that moment resonated with me on several levels.

Because if you’re going to really follow God, and not just sit on the sidelines, there comes a moment when you have to step out that door.

You have to move past repentance (and the self-pity that camping out too long in regret can lead to) and choosing to be on the right side instead of the wrong side, and you have to actually own your power and step out that door.

You have to realize that the team needs you. You have to realize that you have a place no one else does, and you have to decide to face the danger and do what you were born to do.

You have to step out that door and help save the world.

In an earlier scene, when Wanda’s former ally (the evil maniac trying to destroy the world) accuses her and her brother of turning against him, she says bitterly, “What choice do we have?”

But after stepping out the door, when our heroes are at their most critical moment, Wanda chooses to be the last woman off the island. She’ll remain and guard the movie’s holy grail until everyone else is safe.

When Clint casts her a questioning look, she tells him, “It’s my job.”

For all of us, there comes a time when we have to embrace the fight.

Move beyond repentance.

Realize only you can play the role you play.

And step out that door.

(On another note, Barton’s role in the scene is telling. Wanda doesn’t actually come to her senses alone; left to her own devices, I’m guessing she would have stayed there, drowning in self-deprecation. She needed Clint’s help to push her out of her mental entrapment; he gave it — in part because he sees a heroine where nearly everyone else still sees a “witch.” To borrow another line from the film, how do you overcome impossible odds? Together.)







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