Like many a comic-book nerd, I’ve been over-the-moon with the strange, genre-bending roller coaster that has been WandaVision, Marvel’s newest series on the Disney+ platform. The show focuses on some of the minor characters who usually get sidelined by the bigger heroes in Marvel’s blockbuster films, and I have been blown away by how Marvel took time to focus on the very real experience of grief and the enduring power of love.
Marvel Comics has long been known for balancing their fantastical superheroes with relatable human problems. The movies have faithfully explored themes such as Spider-Man / Peter Parker’s reckoning with responsibility, the X-Men’s battle for acceptance and belonging, and the Guardians of the Galaxy’s exploration of family. When it comes to films such as Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, it’s difficult to give certain characters their due when twenty to thirty superheroes are being showcased on screen. WandaVision slows down the action and gives two characters—the metahuman Wanda Maximoff and her synthezoid husband Vision—their time to shine and to process the universal phenomena of human suffering, the fragile nature of mental health, and the consequences of unprocessed grief.
Wanda Maximoff is a tragic figure in the Marvel films. We learn of the death of her parents during her childhood, which happened as a result of a civil war in her fictional eastern European country of Sokovia. Her twin brother is later killed in battle. In a subsequent film, Wanda causes unnecessary destruction to civilians due to the lack of mastery of her powers, and eventually she loses her beloved Vision, who is killed by the mega-villain Thanos. Wanda hasn’t had much screen time to process her suffering. In WandaVision, arguably the most character-focused venture Marvel has undertaken, she now has that opportunity.