It was supposed to be Saoirse Ronan. Marvel wanted it to be Saoirse Ronan. But she passed and Marvel moved on. (The unofficial story is that her people tried to game Marvel for money and unless your initials are R, D and J, that sh*t don’t fly. It’s the kind of thing that makes me wonder if we’ll be doing a Saoirse Ronan career prospectus someday, if this won’t be a defining moment like Emily Blunt passing on Black Widow.) With Ronan out of contention, Marvel approached Elizabeth Olsen, and Samuel L. Jackson, who has held up his end of the “I don’t know anything/they don’t tell me anything” party line for six years, just let it slip to The Wall Street Journal that Olsen is joining the cast as the Scarlet Witch.

I would have loved to see Ronan as the Scarlet Witch, but Olsen, whom I’ve met and been very, very impressed by, is an equally solid choice. It’s proof that landing a role after another actor has already passed on it is not some kind of second-best scenario or “loser’s first pick”. It’s just a sign of how deep the field goes, when you can miss out on someone like Ronan and still get a tremendously talented and intriguing actress. Olsen has talent and plenty of screen presence, but she’s also cagey and a little sharp and if they can bring out the dry wit I saw in her—which Joss Whedon should be able to do, very easily—we’ll have a GREAT Scarlet Witch.

This is one of the most complicated female heroes in any comic book universe, and she has one of the best superhero powers EVER: she can control probability. She can literally do whatever she wants—anything she can see, she can change. She’s one of the only Avengers who can go toe-to-toe with Loki and actually beat him singlehandedly, and even though Whedon is reinventing the world-destroying evil robot Ultron, traditionally it’s the Scarlet Witch who comes through when he gets out of hand. So this is a big role, not just token feminism or a chance to get another pair of boobs on the screen. The Scarlet Witch is essential to the Avengers.

I’m really, really looking forward to a cinematic Scarlet Witch, and the prospect of Elizabeth Olsen suiting up for her is very exciting. Especially if the phase three whispers prove true and the Scarlet Witch is the first female Avenger to get a solo movie.

Attached – Olsen arriving at Jimmy Fallon earlier this week.