Marvel Studios’ first Disney+ series premiered with massive success, captivating audiences with mystery and charm in the bizarre world of Westview. WandaVision took the world by storm for eight weeks, garnering hundreds, if not thousands of theory articles and videos, each week more mysterious than the last, but in the end some of the comic serving risks may not have been entirely worth the reward. But where the theories ran dry a beautiful story was created, focusing on a topic that doesn’t get quite the magnificence and justice as WandaVision created: the journey of grief, particularly a woman’s grief.
From episode 1 on, the show was filled with more Easter eggs than could be counted in a single viewing, despite the episodes being as short as around 20 minutes, which led many of the diehard Marvel fans to try and piece together the grander story being told. Because no matter how convincing, everyone knew that Wanda Maximoff and the (dead) Vision didn’t somehow get their happy ending. In the end, the letdown was real for those who had spent hours pouring over details, particularly the true identity of Evan Peters’ character, who is well known for his role as Peter Maximoff, Quicksilver, in the Fox X-Men Universe.
Theories continue to swirl about just who Ralph Bohner may be, the hilarity of his last name only fueling the fire, but it would honestly seem like we may need to come to terms with Peters’ appearance being no more than a slight fan service. In the grand scheme of things this seems like a waste of a character and an extreme letdown, particularly for those impatiently awaiting the mutants’ arrival into the MCU. But Marvel has rarely led us astray throughout its history, so faith must be maintained that this wasn’t the perfect time and place to bring the mutant story to light — no matter how foolproof this may have felt.
However, where it may have lacked in overall reward for dedicated, comic-combing fans, it made up for as a solid piece of the larger story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. For a little over five years we’ve only known Wanda Maximoff as Wanda, but WandaVision finally gave her her comic moniker of the Scarlet Witch. And for fans of the character, this was a massive defining moment.
Beyond gaining a new name, it also opened up an entire new story for Wanda; it left us with as much mystery it began with as we now ponder her fate until her return in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Going backwards past the endgame of WandaVision was the beautiful journey through grief that brought us there. Wanda Maximoff has always been portrayed and maintained as a tragic character. She suffers loss at every turn, every glimmer of happiness and shred of normalcy constantly pulled out from beneath her. It was time to see the effect this had on her. And WandaVision did it beautifully. This story could have easily fallen into a stereotypical tragic woman in grief story, and yet instead it empowered the path of self-discovery through the darkness to the other side.
Having Wanda confront her past in the penultimate episode and then transform into, and accept her status as, a being so powerful she can destroy the world itself in the finale was magic in itself. The story chose to not sway Wanda from her heroic morals, even if it meant losing this fairy tale she’d created for herself, and in the end she came out of her tragedy stronger than she’d ever been. The easy choice would have been to maintain this ruse she so easily could have kept up, but Wanda took the hard path to truth and acceptance.
Of course, none of this story could have come to life without the impeccable performances of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. The duo who has graced our screens as our favorite odd couple for almost six years still approach their roles with a deep seated love and respect for the individuals they personify. It’s easy to see that both Olsen and Bettany understand their characters more than we as an audience ever could, and they bring this in their small nuances and expressions, their hard hitting quotes and poignant moments of silence, and in the grace they give these embodiments year after year, film after film.
While WandaVision may not have been the planned launch of the MCU’s Phase 4, it’s not a bad start. It brought warmth and comedy to a fan base still recovering from the loss of two of their founding fathers — Tony Stark and Steve Rogers — in Avengers: Endgame, with both leads astounding audiences with their comedic abilities (namely Paul Bettany in episode 2’s magic show), but it also came with a story much needed in the current climate. The timing, while purely coincidental, is so appropriate as we navigate a world that has suffered so much loss in the past 12 months.
what is grief, but not love persevering?Vision, ‘WandaVision’ Episode 8
While Wanda’s backstory may be one of tragedy, WandaVision proved that Wanda Maximoff is not a tragic character. And despite its shortcomings in massive implications for the MCU as a whole, mainly in the new big bad department, WandaVision was exactly what the franchise needed to refresh its storytelling and prove it’s more than a cookie cutter plot superhero franchise.
All episodes of WandaVision are currently streaming on Disney+.