Saturday 6 March 2021

Fears, tears and rebirth in WandaVision

Spoilers for the final episode of Marvel Studios' WandaVision streaming on Disney+. If you haven't caught up with, or started watching, WandaVision and don't want to find out what's going on, please look away from the screen now.

Here is a Marvel superhero story not afraid to explore the aftermath of losing a loved one and the suffocating grief therein. Would Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) choose the dark path, like Anakin Skywalker did in Star Wars, in her desire to save Vision (Paul Bettany) and their twins in an alternate Westview of her making?

The House of M meets The Wizard of Oz.

Fan theories were swept away as Wanda and Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) engaged in a bombastic battle of wits in crimson skies over Westview as Vision versed White Vision (assembled by S.W.O.R.D.), culminating in the birth of the Scarlet Witch. Agatha taking the high ground was a knowing nod to Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi's fateful duel in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith.

The virtual water-cooler conversations surrounding the multiverse theories detracted from the self-contained story being told. Don’t get me wrong, it was fun to speculate with fellow fans on social media (especially in lockdown) as Easter eggs were subtly dropped throughout the series.

However, it took away from focusing on Wanda and Vision - two characters I fell in love with during Avengers: Infinity War. Evan Peters cameo didn’t usher in the X-Men, and I’m fine with that as it’s on me for having that expectation. But the producers would have known his casting would generate buzz.

Wanda, reborn as Scarlet Witch, reversed the damage she had wrought upon the innocent townsfolk of Westview and banished Agatha, in plain sight, before leaving with the Darkhold in her quest to learn the darks arts and find the twins. Scarlet Witch's actions will have grave consequences for Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and, seemingly, Spider-Man: No Way Home this holiday season.

For nine glorious episodes, WandaVision’s off-kilter sitcom mystery box opened up with chutzpah worthy of director JJ Abrams (Lost), went, somewhat predictably and messily, full-blown Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) before ending with a heartbreaking Spielbergian familial farewell in suburbia. All the while, Olsen and Bettany were its beating heart.

Underscored by composer Christophe Beck's (Frozen) lush orchestrations evoking his Emmy-winning soundtrack for Buffy the Vampire Slayer. WandaVision broke down the walls of a fairytale illusion, with inherent moral and ethical implications, and shook me to the emotional core by the series finale’s end.

14 years ago this June, mum died in the wake of an NHS never event. Time doesn’t dilute or heal such trauma and unquantifiable loss. When Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) told Wanda she would have used her powers to bring her mum back... Well, that would have profoundly resonated for similarly affected fans.

It was overwhelmingly too close to home. And in a week a beloved member of my family passed away (not COVID-related) in lockdown, which, like others facing such a predicament, means I won't be able to attend their funeral.

Saying goodbye to the first Marvel Studios Disney+ spin-off is such sweet sorrow. Marvel Studios' Assembled: The Making of WandaVision, an original special streaming on 12th March, will fill the void before The Falcon and the Winter Solder begins the following Friday on Disney+.

What did you think of WandaVision's series finale? Let me know in the comments below.

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