*Warning: this review contains FULL spoilers for WandaVision.
The new television show WandaVision is taking the Marvel community by storm, since it’s the company’s first foray into serialized content and the start of Phase Four. The show tells the story of Wanda Maximoff and Vision. Wanda has chaos magic abilities, which allow her to manipulate reality, while Vision is a synthezoid powered by the Mind Stone.
At the start of Infinity War before Thanos attacked, Wanda and Vision grew close and started a relationship, planning to run away together. However, Wanda ultimately killed Vision in an attempt to prevent Thanos from getting the Mind Stone; her efforts failed, as Thanos reversed time and tore the Mind Stone out of Vision’s head, and then proceeded to kill Wanda with the Snap.
WandaVision picks up shortly after the events of Endgame, with Wanda back from the dead. The show follows both characters as they settle into a life together after the events of the most recent Avengers films—and it’s fashioned as a sitcom. However, the lives of the main characters quickly start to go wrong, and not everything is as it seems.
The Plot: Wanda, Family, and Grief:
WandaVision begins in a seemingly perfect town named Westview, in which Wanda and Vision enjoy a life together. As shown in Episode 8, Wanda’s chaos magic abilities allowed her to transform the ordinary town into her own reality, which she completely controls. This reality is called the Hex, and it’s surrounded by a bubble that transforms things as they enter Wanda’s reality.
This reality initially appears relatively stable, with the only break being when Mrs. Hart incessantly repeats “stop it” to Wanda, as her husband chokes during dinner. Over time, however, Wanda’s reality becomes much more fragile, as characters exit and enter the Hex, and as Agatha Harkness (one of the show’s main villains) continues to intervene. Meanwhile, Wanda becomes more and more complacent in her reality. She goes from desperately trying to hide her abilities from the Harts in episode one, to nonchalantly using them in front of Agatha in episode five. Similarly, she shows that she is in full control of reality in episodes two and three, when she rewinds time, in order to alter events to her own benefit; and in episode five, she rolls credits to try to end an argument she and Vision are having.
For this reason, episode six acts as the turning point for the series. It is in this episode that Wanda attempts to understand how Pietro, played by X-Men: Days of Future Past alumni Evan Peters, and who is supposed to be dead, is back with a different face (ultimately, it was a trick by Agatha). Additionally, Wanda’s children, Tommy and Billy, begin exhibiting powers of super speed and telepathy, respectively. Finally, Vision nearly dies trying to escape the Hex. While all of this is going on, S.W.O.R.D., a military organization similar to S.H.I.E.L.D., continues to enact their plan to defeat Wanda. This leads to Wanda expanding the Hex, taking in S.W.O.R.D agents (changing them into clowns in the process), and saving Vision.
During episode seven, Wanda attempts to have a relaxing day to herself, but Monica Rambeau, who was previously thrown out of the Hex, suddenly re-enters. Wanda and Monica face off, before Agatha reveals herself to be a villain with the iconic “Agatha All Along” song. During episode eight, the shows presents Agatha’s origins. Agatha takes Wanda through moments of her life, such as watching sitcoms with her family before Stark’s bomb hit their town, being experimented upon by HYDRA, and enjoying time with Vision in the Avengers Compound. After all of this, Wanda finally relives the moment when she saw Vision’s dead body and subsequently created the Hex, in which a new version of Vision resides. It is at this moment that Agatha reveals Wanda is the Scarlet Witch, a mythic being who can control chaos magic and is incredibly powerful and dangerous.
The final episode of WandaVision is action-oriented, with Wanda and her family defeating both Agatha and S.W.O.R.D. Ultimately, Wanda releases all the captive citizens of Westview, and decides she has to end the Hex, resulting in her losing both her children and Vision in a heart-wrenching scene.
A Unique Balance Between Sitcom and Superhero:
WandaVision is a masterpiece. I will not go so far as to claim the show is perfect, but it is undoubtedly incredible. And it’s one of Marvel Studios’ best productions to date. The show simultaneously acts as both a superhero show and a sitcom—and, in the process, it is clever, creative, and emotional.
First and foremost, WandaVision was influenced by countless classic sitcoms, from The Dick Van Dyke Show, to Malcolm in the Middle and Modern Family. Inspired by these sitcoms, the show transitions to a different style in each episode. Wandavision’s producers replicate these classic sitcom styles flawlessly—down to the camera shots, music, and the fake commercials.
In addition to being a sitcom, however, WandaVision is also an engaging superhero show. There are fantastic superhero scenes, such as when Wanda expands and creates the Hex, and when Vision, Tommy, and Billy begin to die. These are all incredible moments that allow the show to perfectly balance its status as a sitcom with a more traditional superhero experience.
Meanwhile, the show’s acting only reinforces its greatness. Elizabeth Olson portrays Wanda in an arguably Emmy-worthy performance. Her acting is especially masterful in emotional scenes (namely, when she can no longer feel Vision). And Olson convincingly varies her behavior from episode to episode, which is a remarkable feat.
Olson is not alone in her greatness, as the other actors also play their roles incredibly well. Paul Bettany is fantastic as Vision, Kathryn Hahn is wonderful as the realistic-yet-campy Agatha Harkness, Evan Peters is a joy to see, and the supporting cast of S.W.O.R.D. is similarly great.
Complex, Poignant Villains:
Admittedly, I was worried about how WandaVision would handle villains. Considering the wealth of fan theories concerning Mephisto, a villain in a prominent comic arc involving Wanda and her children, I was worried that the show would sacrifice a poignant and beautiful story of grief for a traditional “big bad.” While WandaVision does feature a skybeam, all three of its villains are fantastic, as they fit well into the story without interrupting Wanda’s emotional arc.
Wanda herself is a villain, given that she traps civilians in the Hex and forces them to play her roles. The show is not afraid of making Wanda’s status as an antagonist clear, as she even refers to herself as the villain on one occasion. The audience empathizes with Wanda’s motivations and her pain, but knows that what she is doing is ultimately wrong, as Wanda herself eventually concludes.
The second villain is S.W.O.R.D (or, more specifically, Director Hayward and White Vision). More than anything else, S.W.O.R.D. wants Wanda to be eliminated, and they hope to use Vision’s body as a weapon. As the character who the entire audience is meant to hate the most, their leader, Director Hayward, serves his role in the story fantastically. While Agatha hides in the background, subtlety working to understand Wanda, Hayward serves as a visceral protagonist who helps drive the conflict forward.
Finally, the main villain is Agatha Harkness. When she was first revealed, I was worried that she would fill the Mephisto role. Instead, she acts as a semi-passive observer prior to fully revealing herself. And she is not directly responsible for the Hex in any way. This is brilliant, as it ensures that the focus of the show remains on Wanda.
Wanda’s reality is fully her own; it’s not created by some outside force. Should the opposite have been the case, the emotional payoff of Wanda’s story would have been greatly diminished. Thankfully, this is not the route Marvel decided to take.
Wanda’s Powerful Story of Sadness and Denial:
At its core, the show portrays Wanda’s overwhelming grief and pain, as she tries to build a stable life. Wanda creates a personal reality for herself, in which she enjoys a life with Vision and their children. However, this reality crumbles over the course of the show. Wanda soon realizes that her personal “reality” is neither perfect nor real, no matter how much she wants it to be. By pursing her alternate reality, she hurts others as well as herself. And no matter how hard it is to let go, she eventually realizes that she needs to move on.
Emotional moments such as Wanda’s goodbye show the true power of WandaVision. While the show ran for about two months and only included nine episodes total, Wanda’s goodbyes to Tommy, Billy, and Vision make viewers feel her grief—as though the viewers were saying goodbye to beloved characters we’d all been watching for years.
Wanda’s period of grieving essentially concludes with the scene of her tucking her sons, Tommy and Billy, into bed one last time. She thanks them for choosing her to be their mother—a beautiful line that might first strike some viewers as strange. Both Billy and Tommy have full free will; Wanda cannot control them like she can most everyone else in Westview. Billy and Tommy therefore chose to have Wanda as their mother, and they even helped her fight Agatha and S.W.O.R.D. Thus, when Wanda says this, she is thanking them for willingly being her sons. And as the show closes, Wanda also has a final moment with Vision, in which they talk of how they will see each other again. He says “goodbye, darling,” before being taken away by the retreating Hex.
WandaVision therefore made me feel Wanda’s grief, as well as the inextricable relationship between grief and other emotions (namely, love). As Vision so aptly says in the show, “What is grief if not love persevering?” This line truly encapsulates the whole of WandaVision.
Through WandaVision, Marvel Studios has created a masterpiece: a show that manages to be both a sitcom and a superhero show, while most importantly telling one of the best stories ever told by the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU).
WandaVision is a fantastic sitcom and superhero show, with amazing writing, great villains, and jaw-dropping special effects. At its core, the shows portrays the deeply personal story of Wanda and her family, while illustrating the extraordinary grief, trauma, and tragedy Wanda endures. It even made me cry. While her story in the MCU is far from over, the narrative recounted over these nine episodes is both heartwarming and heart-wrenching.
1. Episode Five: Overall, this is the best episode, given that it includes Agatha’s break from the sitcom reality, Wanda rolling the end credits while she fights with Vision, and Evan Peters’ introduction. Plus, Baby Vision.
2. Episode One: A fantastic sitcom episode with one of the most chilling scenes in the show: Mrs. Hart’s “stop it” scene, when her husband chokes, but she has no power to help him, due to Wanda’s control.
3. Episode Six: This episode features classic comic costumes for all of the main characters, the incredible expanding Hex scene (which reminded me of Jurassic Park), and the creepy-yet-funny theme song.
4. Episode Eight: The presentation of Wanda’s past, as well as the creation of the Hex, allows for her character to be more fully fleshed out, giving the entire series more depth. In addition, this episode includes Vision’s poignant question: “What is grief if not love persevering?”
5. Episode Nine: A fitting, emotional conclusion to a masterpiece.
6. Episode Three: This is a fun episode that introduces Wanda’s twins. The highlight is certainly Vision’s fourth-wall break and subtle rewind.
7. Episode Two: Another really fun episode. Plus, seeing Vision drunk is quite funny.
8. Episode Four: A flawlessly executed episode that is just not as interesting as the rest of the series.
9. Episode Seven: Certainly the worst episode of the show. The sitcom just did not feel as in-sync as the rest of the show. This appears to have been intentional, given that Wanda’s reality begins to really crash in this episode, but it makes the episode stand out in an awkward manner.
*The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.5