Opinions

WandaVision was an unexpected treat for an MCU nerd

SPOILER ALERT: If you haven’t seen WandaVision, please stop reading now. I’ll be discussing the series as a whole and this will include spoilers.

I wasn’t a fan of Wanda Maximoff when she first joined the MCU. There were a bunch of reasons for this, including the fact that she and her brother Pietro couldn’t be called mutants at the time, and how their abilities were tied to exposure to the mind stone with little mention of magic.

This dislike, and confusion, carried over as the MCU continued to expand, especially when Dr. Strange entered the fray and finally brought magic to the universe.

Now, in a place where the Sorcerer Supreme exists, didn’t we finally deserve to hear them talk about the Scarlet Witch?

That’s why watching the last two episodes of the miniseries was a deeply cathartic time for me. At long goddamn last, I heard four words that I’d been waiting to hear for close to six years: Scarlet Witch and Chaos Magic.

Call me whatever you want, but finally having the magic issue finally settled with Wanda was a huge relief. That alone made watching WandaVision worth it.

That being said, there were a ton of other things I enjoyed about the show throughout the whole nine-episode arc.

The exploration of grief and pain

The show’s core theme is grief, and how one deals with it. For someone as shockingly powerful as Wanda, her grief manifested in her takeover of the town of Westview and creation of an alternate reality that mirrored the sitcoms she loved as a child.

The show was able to convey how overwhelming grief can be, especially to someone who has suffered as much trauma as Wanda. Exploring her pain and her journey through the show finally allowed me to view her as a real person, instead of a deus ex machina that shows up when someone needs to be saved from an overwhelming fight.

While we saw her key moments of grief during the feature films, a lot of things happened to so many other characters that it was difficult to focus on or care about Wanda’s journey. Plus, Pietro’s death in Age of Ultron and Vision’s death in Infinity War came in 2015 and 2018. Considering how many other Marvel movies came out in that time period, it was hard to keep Wanda on top of my mind.

The episodic nature of WandaVision allowed us to delve much deeper into her relationship with Vision and Pietro, which made it easier to understand why the twins joined Hydra and why she fell in love with a caring Android.

It’s one thing to hear a throwaway line in a movie about their parents being killed by a Stark bomb. It’s entirely another to see, through a child’s eyes, the death of her parents and the fear that came from staring at the undetonated bomb with a huge “STARK INDUSTRIES” label on it.

The shock and trauma of thinking you’re going to die was well-presented in this scene from Wanda’s childhood.

The tender moments between her and Vision, both in her alternate reality and in the flashbacks shown, make it clear why she was so devastated by his death.

Paul Bettany’s acting also shined throughout the series, especially as things progressed and it became clearer to him that he was Wanda’s construct and not the real (and very dead) Vision.

This small moment between Wanda and Vision was one of my favourites.

He was able to portray Vision’s soothing effect on Wanda well, and gave the memory of their interactions in Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War much more meaning.

It was also good to that the writers made sure to include how Wanda’s own pain emanated to everyone that fell under her spell. The scenes showing Westville’s residents telling her that they had her nightmares, with one even requesting that Wanda kill her instead of continuing her tortured existence, was powerful and memorable.

What Wanda did wasn’t right, and I felt that it was correct to show that there was no happy ending or amicable split between her and the residents of Westville. She caused them permanent trauma, and she has to own that. By allowing her grief to take over her and unleash her full powers, Wanda will forever be a villain in the eyes of those poor civilians.

The interstellar connection

The last time we saw Monica Rambeau, she was a little kid in Captain Marvel. 

She didn’t get that much screen time in WandaVision, but Teyonah Parris’ acting made Monica a likeable and understandable character. It’s not easy being the kid of a legend, so I’m keen to see the larger role she’ll play in Secret Invasion and Captain Marvel 2.

They didn’t really talk much about her powers in the show, but she’ll be able to do some cool stuff if she has anything remotely like her comic powers.

I also can’t wait for her to finally see Carol Danvers and say something along the lines of “Aunt Carol! I’ve got powers too!”

Agatha Harkness

Agatha Harkness is further proof that Sarah Finn and the rest of the casting team over at Marvel Studios are masters of their craft.

From the “original six” Avengers, all the way to Agatha Harkness, they are able to cast actors and actresses that become synonymous with their roles.

They struck gold again by casting Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness. Hahn’s delivery both in her fake thrall self, and as her true witch persona, made her a compelling character.

Choosing to give her a more youthful appearance, compared to the elderly lady in the comics, also added a good twist. She becomes an important figure in the comic books not just for Wanda, but also the Fantastic Four, and I can’t wait to see how her character arc plays out in the MCU.

Not everything was great

There are a few things that felt under-utilised in the show. 

While I thought Darcy Lewis provided a few good moments, including that little Easter egg with her calling the anomaly the “Hex”, it felt like she could have been put to more use.

Jimmy Woo also had a few funny moments, and helped save the day, but we can always use more of him. He’s great for comedic relief and was fun in both WandaVision and Ant-Man and the Wasp. I hope he gets a larger role in a future show or movie.

Tyler Hayward was, at best, a boring villain. In a world where Wanda has faced a world-ending foe like Thanos, and made him feel true fear, there was no way that I could take a corrupt government official seriously as a villain.

You can’t seriously make me believe that Hayward mattered after Wanda’s already done this in the past.

It was too obvious that he was going to become one of the antagonists, which actually made Agatha’s reveal even better for the show.

I think we’re way beyond trying to pass G-men who want to create powerful new weapons as believable foils for superhumans like Wanda. Hayward felt more like a villain that would have fit in the first couple of Iron Man movies instead of WandaVision.

Plus, I really don’t understand why they decided that his last villainous act should be trying to shoot Wanda’s kids. That just felt stupid.

Parting thoughts

WandaVision was a bold and interesting first attempt at a miniseries that ties into the larger MCU. It shows the potential of how smaller players in the movies can become much better-liked and understood through more focused character development.

We’ve now clearly established that Wanda, while still not fully trained in her magical abilities, is one of the most powerful beings that we currently know about in the MCU. 

Think about it: her raw emotions allowed her to bend reality to her whim, and she has now added the Darkhold to her arsenal.

Nothing good ever comes out of that damned book, especially if you remember what happened in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, so now I can’t wait to see where her story takes us next.

My money is on her, for at least part of the movie, being the villain in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. That final post-credits scene will still be in my head when it releases in 2022.

That’s where my speculation will end, though, because I don’t want to go into the rabbit hole of wrong theories that plagued a lot of WandaVision viewers.

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