Warning: Spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War, Endgame, and Wandavision Episodes 1-9.
“I just feel you.” Vision says as Wanda Maximoff uses her powers to remove the infinity stone from Vision’s vibranium cranium. Her fingers twirl as red magic flies from her fingertips, and as Vision closes his eyes, the stone shatters, and Vision is gone.
That is, until Thanos arrives. Thanos walks up to the dead corpse of Vision, and much to the anger of Wanda, Thanos uses the Time stone to revive vision and pluck the stone from his head. Vision falls to the ground, dead.
At the snap of Thanos’ fingers, half of life in the universe was wiped, including Wanda.
Years pass in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and, after Bruce Banner revives that other half, Wanda returns, fury in her eyes as she nearly kills Thanos, saying “You took everything from me.” Grief stricken, angered and pained, Wanda finds herself seeking solace, away from everything, and she locates that in Westview, New Jersey.
She pulls her car into the driveway of the house that Vision and Wanda had purchased. The lot is empty, and in that moment, Wanda recognizes that she has lost it all. Her parents are dead, her brother is dead, her true love in the form of the Vision is dead, and, as a cherry on top, the place Vision circled “to grow old in” is non-existent. In this grief, Wanda creates an imaginary world based around the sitcoms she grew up with, and in that, she lives with her husband Vision, laugh tracks and family included.
When I heard about Wandavision, I was intrigued, yet worried about it’s quality. I didn’t like the naming structure because it didn’t make sense to me. We had Loki, Falcon and the Winter Soldier – why wasn’t this called “Vision and the Scarlet Witch”? Yet, when more details came out, such as concept art, I realized then that Wandavision would be about Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) living an idyllic life together in the suburbs, which just so happen to harken back to shows like Dick Van Dyke, I Love Lucy, and Bewitched. I grew up watching some of these with my grandmother, and I was so excited to see it with two of the most intriguing characters the MCU had to offer.
Theories had sprung up, ideas and wishes for the show, such as a hopeful John Krasinski appearance as Reed Richards, the return of Ultron, or even the start of the multiverse. I was also getting into the fun, but I knew that in storytelling, sometimes a story that’s being told is not the one the fans exactly want, and I started to recognize that Wandavision isn’t a story about awesome cameos or paying homage to classic shows, it’s about grief.
It struck me that it was about this when Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) was “kicked off” the show when she asked Wanda if her brother was killed by Ultron. Wanda glared, and her eyes turned watery, as Monica was sent out of the “hex” (the boundary created by Wanda to keep the show in this stasis). In the next episode, it’s revealed that Monica, just three weeks earlier, had learned that her mother had died of cancer while Monica disappeared. She’s been hurting too, and suddenly, in episode four, I was hit with a pain myself.
There’s a suddenness about loss that I myself struggle to put into words. I had lost my mother in 2014. Mom was struggling a lot, and then, suddenly in seventh grade, I learned that mom was no longer with us. The pain of a quick loss is different from a progressive passing. It’s unexpected, and it sends some people into this spiral as they realize mortality is everywhere. Learning that lesson at twelve years old was definitely a sobering reality, and as I watched Monica panic and seek answers, along with do drastic things like entering the simulation without prior authorization, I remembered the drastic things I had done in my grief, like missing school, or I’d find myself playing video games like Fallout, any MMO, or any LEGO game, just to find this “escape” into a virtual world. I’ve read stories of people that lose someone they’ve loved, and they turn to drugs and alcohol for solace. Wanda, meanwhile, creates a world of her own imagination through that grief and pain.
I believe that in storytelling, an arc of loss and acceptance is rarely done, and that’s because it’s hard to do. An acceptance is gradual, you hurt and hurt and day by day the hole left doesn’t heal. It just scabs. Nothing can truly fill that hole in a heart. We see in scenes through the show that Wanda is putting up walls, she is struggling. Even after the finale, we see spots in Wanda’s grief that imply it’ll be explored in later films.
Wanda is suffering. She is suffering from signs of post traumatic stress, and is experiencing a form of regression where she goes back to times where it was simpler for her, times when her brother was alive, and her robotic husband was around. It is concerning that the people around her seemingly weren’t trying to help her get through this, until characters such as Monica, Jimmy Woo, and Darcy realized what was happening and started working on finding a solution, rather than a quick and simple end.
To tell you the truth, if I had the power she had, I’d bring my mother back in an instant. I’m sure anyone that’s lost someone would do the same thing, even just for a day. That’s the greatness in this show. There’s clear effort done here to showcase grief and the lengths some people would wish they could go to to create that bubble of happiness. It’s a slippery slope, cutting people off like that. By cutting others off through keeping them trapped in the town, Wanda leaves more people hurt than before. Her grief has gone to others, and that is something she must cope with.
I am excited to see where Wanda Maximoff goes for the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as I hope her progress of processing the grief and trauma she’s experienced continues.
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