What is grief, if not love persevering?Paul Bettany, WandaVision
Airs: Disney+ | Air Date: 2021 | Number of Seasons: 1
WARNING: This review will contain MCU spoilers. If you have not seen at least through AGE OF ULTRON and ENDGAME, do not read this review. You have been warned.
WandaVision The show follows Wanda Maximoff and Vision as they try to live idealistic suburban lives in the idyllic town of Westview. Each episode takes on the stylings of a sitcom from each decade starting with the 50s and working through modern day. However, as the episodes progress, Wanda and Vision begin to suspect that everything in Westview is not what it seems.
I had low hopes for this show. I thought that much of it wouldn’t be able to hold true because of the depth of the MCU films. I also didn’t really care about Wanda and Vision. While I was aware of their romance in the films, it almost seemed like they were barely there. I was surprised when I saw Marvel announce this show but, being the Marvel nerd that I am, I had to see it. The first episode was a pleasant surprise. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany have a very natural sense of being together. They play on the romance tropes of each decade of sitcoms almost with the ease of people who lived through and were intimately familiar with them. The best part of the show did end up being the chemistry between the leads. In a show about superheroes, it’s natural to suspend your disbelief but WandaVision seemed to ask its viewers to suspend their disbelief just a little further. After the heartbreaking death of Vision in Endgame, the viewer wants to believe that Vision is somehow alive and that he and Wanda are living perfect lives. But knowing that it’s Marvel and with the lack of introduction about the multiverse, it’s hard to get comfortable with the first couple of episodes knowing that Vision is supposed to be dead.
The next few episodes don’t disappoint. The viewer is slowly introduced to the truth of Westview and the union between Wanda and Vision becomes infinitely more heartbreaking. The show is meant to be an ode to grief. Wanda first lost her brother in Age of Ultron and just as she was comforted by Vision and found someone to fill that missing hole, Vision is taken from her in the most cruel way possible. Unable to cope with her grief, Wanda finds a way to bring Vision back in a way that allows her to have the perfect life with him that she always wanted. As the show progresses, the viewer is introduced to the negative effects of not dealing with grief. Wanda is so protective over Westeview and Vision (and eventually their family) that she exhausts herself and is blind to the fact that her grief has essentially turned her into a villain. Yet, I don’t buy into the arguments that Wanda is a villain. I believe that grief is the villain here and that it twisted its way into Wanda’s heart. It’s no justification for the events of the show, but it’s a way to understand her motives. That’s what Marvel always seems to do best; they give you a story that doesn’t have a black and white understanding. You’re supposed to accept that the characters are painted in shades of grey (and if you need a more compelling argument than WandaVision, watch Civil War).
As with any Marvel movie, this show caters to fans of the comics. The easter eggs are not only meant to hint at the establishment of a multiverse but also hint at the potential characters that will soon be introduced to the MCU. The reason I bring up the easter eggs is the subtlety with which they are embedded into the story. The story isn’t cluttered with them to the point that the audience loses the idea that this is actually the story of Wanda. In fact, this is Wanda’s true origin story and Vision’s presence only serves to further Wanda coming into her power. The ending of this show is pretty ambiguous which I actually quite enjoyed. There are many loose ends that it’s clear that other shows will answer these questions but the audience isn’t meant to truly understand everything presented. WandaVision is part of a larger story. The audience needs to understand this chapter about Wanda; the audience doesn’t need to understand everything about the multiverse because it technically hasn’t been properly established yet. Many critics of this show seem to take it as a standalone story rather than a small part of a larger story. Just like Wanda is only a part of the Avengers, not the entire team, WandaVision is only a part of the MCU, not the entire story.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this show. It’s not perfect by any means. Parts of the story DO lag because of the easter eggs, though the plot is never lost. Some characters don’t really get a proper send off and there might just be a few too many questions about Westview that don’t get answered and I can’t really see them being relevant later on. But, WandaVision is a story about grief and that story is told beautifully. Elizabeth Olsen is a tremendous talent and watching her come alive as the Scarlet Witch is a truly incredible feat. There are some beautifully quotable lines and references to some truly special sitcoms. Any Marvel fan will truly enjoy this show.