Warning: Spoilers ahead
It was difficult to understand what direction the creators of the Disney+ series, WandaVision, were headed in early on in the series. The show follows on from the aftermath of Thanos’s demise and follows characters, Wanda Maximoff and the resurrected Vision, in a post Endgame world. It was clear from the offset that WandaVision was entering territory that the Marvel Cinematic Universe had never really covered before.
WandaVision, unlike those before, gave us an unprecedented deep dive into topics and emotions that the MCU had never touched upon in the past
Although the MCU has provided us with some of the most highly anticipated films of the last decade, if not all time – the films never truly explored cinematic creativity. Previous MCU successes, from the Avengers series to Agents of Shield were able to capture audiences with their action-packed adaptations and attention to detail. They were created with the purpose to entertain and that’s what they did.
However, WandaVision, unlike those before, gave us an unprecedented deep dive into topics and emotions that the MCU had never touched upon in the past. Yes, the topic of grief had been somewhat covered through the death of several notable characters, from Pietro (the other Maximoff) to the beloved, Tony Stark/Iron Man. But the effects of loss on other characters hadn’t been truly explored.
After the third episode of WandaVision, we began to understand that the world of Westview had been created as an alternate reality, where Wanda still had everything and everyone, she had previously lost. Over the course of the 9 episodes, the last of which was only released a few days ago, we began to understand the events that lead Wanda to submerge her emotions in this falsehood.
the series allowed us to gain a deeper insight into her character and come to understand what eventually led such a strong and fearless persona to crack
Based on the events of Avengers: Age of Ultron, we know that Wanda Maximoff had had a complicated past. From the death of her parents, the war in Sokovia, being used as a weapon and exploited for her powers, as well as the murder of both her brother and later on, her lover, there’s no doubt she’s been through a lot. WandaVision finds her after she has simply had enough. It’s clear that the trauma she faced over the past few years, had a devastating effect on her mental wellbeing and her eventual breakdown releases a surge of powers so intense, that it’s unlike anything seen in a Marvel film before.
Grief is a complicated emotion to portray on screen, let alone within the action/adventure genre. The complexity of Wanda’s character, along with Elizabeth Olsen’s impeccable acting, enabled thousands of viewers to resonate with, and more importantly understand what Wanda was going through.
In particular, the eighth episode in the series allowed us to gain a deeper insight into her character and come to understand what eventually led such a strong and fearless persona to crack. We witnessed how the trials and ordeals of the Novi Grad Bombings, resulted in the death of Iryna and Oleg Maximoff – her parents. It was at this moment, we first witnessed Wanda begin to suppress her memories, replacing them with the fictional storyline of the ‘Dick Van Dyke Show’.
As the episode goes on, we’re taken back to several moments in Wanda’s past, including a moment shared between her and Vision during her stay in the Avengers headquarters. It is there, the infamous line is spoken – “after all, what is grief if not love persevering?”.
It’s not often that we see accurate portrayals of grief on our screens
A common hallmark of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is the repression of traumatic memories. In the case of WandaVision, Wanda repressed every horrific event she had been subject to and created an idealised world, where she had the picture-perfect family and lived out her fantasies.
It’s not often that we see accurate portrayals of grief on our screens. In fact, the general representation tends to depict sufferers lying in bed for days on end and unable to move on. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen, because it does. But grief is such a complex and misunderstood emotion that it is experienced in several different ways. Even trauma therapist, Erin Qualey, writes, ‘these new type of trauma narratives mark a refreshing shift away from treating as a liability. Instead, they recognise that it’s something we all struggle with, in ways both large and small’.
One popular fan theory even goes on to suggest that throughout the series, we witness Wanda go through all five stages of grief, beginning with denial and eventually ending with acceptance. WandaVision gave Olsen’s character the opportunity to finally address and come to terms with her past, and without realising it, provided viewers with a refreshing and honest depiction of an emotion that is not often discussed, despite it being experienced by everyone at one point or another.
It is evident by the show, that Marvel is entering a new and exciting phase where they are open to exploring engaging and necessary topics and I’m looking forward to their future releases, including The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. But for now, I’m grateful to them for unknowingly highlighting a topic such as grief in such a powerful way.
In article trailer courtesy of Marvel Entertainment via YouTube.
In article images courtesy of you.will.rise via Instagram. No changes made to these images.
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