“WandaVision” Marvel’s Technicolor Love Letter to Old Hollywood and Cautionary Tale of Repressed Traumacsudhbulletin March 19, 2021 0 COMMENTS
Paul Bettany as Vision and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision,” exclusively on DIsney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios.
By Carlos Martinez, Web Editor
Editor’s Note: This article contains spoilers of Marvel Studios’ “WandaVision”.
The illustrious creation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is a tale that starts on the big screen. From introducing audiences to a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist wrapped in an iron suit; to giving us a first-class ticket to the African country of Wakanda.
“WandaVision,” is the first show in Phase 4 of the television landscape connected to the larger MCU.
While not as splashy as its big-screen predecessors centered on large explosions, big-budget team-ups, and less character development time, it manages to flourish in a way that holds up.
What makes “WandaVision” a unique entry to the MCU is its themes of grief, mental health, and healing folded up in a visual love letter of the sitcoms of Old Hollywood. On paper, “WandaVision” initially pitched as a sitcom-mystery mash-up, sounds destined to fail.
However, it serves as an epilogue to the tragic tale of superhero lovers Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in “Avengers: Infinity War.”
In the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame,” Wanda finds herself grief-stricken and alone after the death of her lover, Vision at the hands of Thanos. Due to a mental breakdown caused by extreme trauma and heartbreak, Wanda creates a rose-colored, fantasy world. In this world she’s able to conjure up the perfect family life for herself; it’s a place where the Vision can never die, have kids, and live happily ever after.
One of the ways Marvel does a good job of portraying Wanda’s grief is having her spiral into madness and gaining power during its run. In one of the biggest, risky deviations from the traditional MCU, “WandaVision” maximizes its narrative through the uses of episodic television.
The cheery masquerade of her truth slowly deteriorates throughout the episodic series as Wanda learns that grief is unavoidable and her vintage wonderland is fantasy, thus leading her to accept the reality of her loss and fulfill her destiny as the Scarlet Witch.
The series seemingly has no deeper narrative to what is presented to us. Following the format of iconic sitcoms in the span of seven decades, “WandaVision” presents itself as isolated episodic narratives that follow the adventures of the couple trying to live an “American” life.
When looking at it deeper, Wanda has been filtering out all the morbid trauma from her harsh reality in order to preserve her distorted utopia.
In spite of using sitcoms as a unique and bizarre tool to narrate the story, “WandaVision” elevates to be one of the most impactful MCU stories for audiences through media escapism This theme is observed through Wanda’s experiences as an immigrant from the country of Sokovia trying to learn English in a desire to achieve the idyllic apple pie American lifestyle.
The show shows us the impact of American culture on foreign soils by exploring classics such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Bewitched” and “Malcolm in the Middle.” The young Wanda found comfort in escapism with these idealistic narratives as the horrors of her war-torn country swirled around her.
Generally, cinema and television shows have always allowed audiences to liberate themselves from their problems for at least an hour or two, once a week or a cushiony binge session. It makes us feel comfortable, entertained and at ease while being immersed in a more enchanting landscape.
In a year where life on Earth shut down due to the ongoing pandemic, more than half of consumers were seeking comfort from the pandemic through familiar music, films and television shows according to a study conducted by Nielsen, Billboard and MRD Data.
While “WandaVision” serves to be one of its kind to grace the streaming platform, it also serves as the first in which two characters, typically served as plot devices in the MCU, are the main stars.
Like how there’s no Tony Stark without Robert Downey Jr., Olsen is the Scarlet Witch. She demonstrates an impeccable performance to match with the acting of yesteryear (Lucille Ball and Elizabeth Montgomery to name a few) that brings a new side of Wanda that hasn’t been shown before.
After the success of “WandaVision,” fans wonder what Marvel has in store for their next outing, “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” will play out in the streaming landscape. Only time will tell how the show will play out as its premiere episode drops this weekend. Until then, please stand by.