Television

WandaVision

The show perfectly encapsulates the feelings of grief, confusion, and isolation born of the pandemic.

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Wanda Maximoff can't recall exactly how she took over a New Jersey town, mind-controlled its inhabitants, and launched a fake sitcom co-starring her deceased husband and imaginary children. "I only remember feeling completely alone," she confesses. "Empty. Just endless nothingness."

The audience can relate. Disney+'s WandaVision, a new installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, entered production before COVID-19 swept the globe, yet it perfectly encapsulates the feelings of grief, confusion, and isolation born of the pandemic. Over the course of nine episodes—most of which mirror a classic sitcom formula, from Bewitched to Modern Family—we learn that Wanda is still mourning the death of her beloved Vision, an android and fellow member of the superhero group the Avengers. Consumed with grief, Wanda uses her considerable telepathic and telekinetic superpowers to create a fantasy world where she can be at peace with a fictionalized version of her ideal family.

S.W.O.R.D., an unyielding government bureaucracy that possesses Vision's remains, adds to Wanda's trauma by refusing to let her give him a proper burial. This echoes the tragic circumstances in which so many people have found themselves recently. Anyone who has felt trapped for the past year, be it from loss or from lockdowns, will have some sympathy for Wanda, even as it becomes obvious that her coping mechanisms are coercive and destructive. Superheroes, like normal people, can suffer only so much. That's something both S.W.O.R.D. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should keep in mind.

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  1. Interesting analogy…

    Of course there is also the specter of children locked in their rooms for months by Wanda, who’s script has nothing for them to do.

    And a town full of people forced to mouth platitudes they do not believe and wear the ‘mask’ of a persona that is not their own….

    Then there is the malevolent force behind the scenes, only building these powers so that she can usurp them for her own purposes once they have reached their fullness….

    Maybe it is more a case of our times being filled with cartoonishly malevolent characters bent on controlling others and dividing the spoils among themselves than it is a case of Wandavision being particularly insightful or prophetic.

    1. This show wasn’t bad until the final episode; then the writers shat the bed completely.

      The show was funny when the audience didn’t know what was actually happening. Once it was obvious that Wanda was enslaving an entire town of thousands of people, the show lost a lot of its humor.

      They could have saved the show by making Agatha the one doing the enslaving but, in the final episode the writers made it explicit that Wanda created and (mostly) controlled it all.

      They could have saved it again by making Wanda perform an act of redemption or even just say “Sorry” but, instead the writers had the black woman say to the slaver: “They’ll never know what you sacrificed” – “they” being the thousands of people she enslaved. After which Wanda flies off and never looks back, never giving a second thought to all the people whose lives she royally f*cked!

      What an ending! It makes it clear that Wanda is, and always was, an evil bitch with no compassion for any of her victims.

      And don’t get me started on Vision2. He knows what a bitch Wanda is so, he flies away from her as fast as he can – never to be seen again (one would assume, now that white men can only be evil in the MSheU).

      Still, it took them until the final episode to ruin it. That’s better than Falcon and The Winter Soldier, which was f*cked from the start. I’ll never call Falcon the new Captain America; to me he’ll always be Uncle Tom Sam.

      1. If you actually read Uncle Tom’s Cabin you would know that Uncle Tom is an honorable character with attributes to laud.

        1. I absolutely agree time spent reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin is better than time spent watching Wandavision.

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      2. > What an ending! It makes it clear that Wanda is, and always was, an evil bitch with no compassion for any of her victims.

        Uh, that’s the whole point. That the series morphs from happy Dick Van Dyke to sinister malevolence is a problem, that the titular hero is really the villain is not. That’s a quite old trope.

        Just because it’s Disney does not mean it has to be 1950s Pollyanna Disney where everything gets wrapped up with warm and fuzzies. I mean jeepers, Old Yeller anyone?

        1. Yeah, the twist could be pretty good. Even poignant.

          Except that’s not how the show treats it. Everything turns dark and it turns out she was a hideously evil villain due to her wallowing in her own grief. That much is cool, at least potentially. But then she gets absolved by her own personal Bagger Vance. The show in artfully gives us the interpretation instead of letting us stew on it and draw our own conclusions. Acting as our conscience, She absolves Wanda of all responsibility and even lets us know that Wanda was the actual victim here.

          Part of it is that they crammed the resolution all in a very quick window. Similar to Daenerys targaryen’s turn to the dark side in Game of thrones, this twist and her redemption seems unearned. The beats are there for such a plot to be constructed, but they come so rapidly and are so weakly supported that they don’t work.

          I actually really enjoyed the show despite its flaws. I wish they had taken three or four episodes to fully set up the ending and let the malevolence play out. As it stands, her redemption is unearned. She is merely given absolution by a single person. We are supposed to identify with her pain of losing her children, but they are children that she has known for only a few days. They are conjured from her imagination. So they had to make it that she was giving up on the idea of love and family or something odd like that, since these were not real people.

          1. The sitcom episodes worked incredibly well as a novelty concept show, and that’s what they should have emphasized. Don’t worry about, “hey, why is Vision alive here when he died in IW?” or “what is the point of all this stuff?” The sitcom-inspired episodes were terrific and would have stood on their own without throwing in the outside world.

            Just indulging in it as a “hey, these are two characters people like, and we saw this as a fun one-off for some laughs and nostalgia” would have been a great way to go about things, rather than trying to shoehorn it into the Phase IV storyline. They could have left it as is and maybe hinted at a House of M situation in the new movies as an easter egg.

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          2. They didn’t have to give absolution at all. The idea that people with immense power are capable of hurting others without even being aware of it is a pretty good lesson. The idea that there are always sycophants behind the scenes manipulating the powerful for their own ends is an even better lesson.

      3. “After which Wanda flies off and never looks back, never giving a second thought to all the people whose lives she royally f*cked!”

        A perfect metaphor for federal and state public health agencies response to the COVID pandemic.

        1. At least she could have given the townspeople stimulus checks to spend.
          And for their kids to pay back the loan to fund the checks.

      4. Disney going in this direction is rather interesting because in the comics, Wanda is emotionally unstable with the potential for destruction on the scale of Dark Phoenix through her chaos magic. The series was basically just a rehash of the House of M storyline.

        They could have saved it again by making Wanda perform an act of redemption or even just say “Sorry” but, instead the writers had the black woman say to the slaver: “They’ll never know what you sacrificed” – “they” being the thousands of people she enslaved.

        Yeah, talk about a complete botch there at the end, especially with that line coming from Monica Rambeau, who was utterly fucking useless through the entire series.

        1. With that said, the series recreations were a lot of fun, and Elizabeth Olsen looked absolutely yummy in that classic Scarlet Witch outfit during the 90s episode.

          1. >>looked absolutely yummy

            imagine it would take considerable effort for her to not

        2. I had hoped that most of the people were illusions or dream-characters brought to life by her powers. That would make Wanda sympathetic as she would have to choose between living in her dream and living in reality (with the concern that waking up would kill these people who are real and sentient, at least to her). However, making them real people who were being used as puppets gives her a right choice to make and makes her almost unredeemable. At best, she’s a mad god toying with people by accident.

          1. Kinda reminiscent of The Silver Surfer animated series.

            Uatu The Watcher, Galactus, and Thanos are the Holy Trinity of Asshole Comic Book Gods using The Silver Surfer as a pawn for their Universe-ruling, Universe-fucking, Universe-eating and Universe-killing schemes, even to the point of wiping out The Silver Surfer’s memory.

            I’ll have to see the rest of Wandavision, assuming Disney+ hasn’t memory-holed it away from me. They also only recently put on X-Men III: The Last Stand. I hope they get on the Wolverine/Logan movies and others too.

      5. FatWS gets a bad rap for wokeness. Sure there was some woke stuff in there, but the shield got passed to the guy that displayed character, not as reparations for the guy that was persecuted. It also pointed out that claiming to protect minorities doesn’t make anyone a hero and probably usually doesn’t protect

        I also really liked the message that his sister didn’t need government largess or a handout based on Sam’s fame. The family just needed to make their needs known to their friends and neighbors who they had supported throughout the years and that community took care of their own.

        The bad things about it was the way they wrapped up Walker’s arc and that awkward speech about the refugees. The magic of Chris Evan’s Captain America was that he didn’t politicize or pontificate, he just engaged in actions to safeguard freedoms. Refugees are a political issue.

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  2. Maybe Wanda needs some comic books and collectible action figures.

  3. Disney, no thanks.

  4. The show perfectly encapsulates the feelings of grief, confusion, and isolation born of the pandemic.

    And then throws it all away to shit the bed the last couple episodes.

    Skybeams, flying people punching each other, deus machina ending, and just mind-boggling stupid takes.

    ‘They’ll never know what you sacrificed for them!’ Fuck you say? What did she sacrifice? Her boyfriend? She ain’t the only person to lose someone there.

    1. Her imaginary kids. They imaginary died when she let everyone go.

      1. People, half of whom disappeared and, subsequently all of whom were enslaved, won’t know what she sacrificed.

    2. “Skybeams, flying people punching each other”

      That was the *good* part. I would have been annoyed if they’d left it out.

  5. “…it perfectly encapsulates the feelings of grief, confusion, and isolation born of the pandemic.”

    These things were not born of the pandemic, but of the mass hysteria created by the media and government and used by power-mad tyrants to achieve their dream of turning the world into North Korean.

  6. >>encapsulates the feelings of grief, confusion, and isolation born of the pandemic

    dude I’m really sorry you lived your life like that I’m not certain it was necessary.

  7. Wandavision made two things absolutely clear to me:
    1. They shit the bed with Brie Larson as Captain Marvel.
    2. They’re going to use the grimiest, shit-soaked rag to clean up the mess.

    Wanda’s ‘Good, bad, manipulated, or out of control?’ story arc was, IMO, well done. The part where they fucked up and, apparently, intend to continue doing so, is with Captain Marvel (Danvers or Rambeau). There were signs early on. When there was a minor discussion about how Danvers came the closest to killing Thanos. Characters who were selectively aware of the events of Endgame somehow knew that, despite the fact that Thor effectively killed Thanos twice and that Ironman ultimately vanquished Thanos, Danvers came the closest to killing him. Similar with the assertion that Wand may be more powerful than a Sorcerer Supreme.

    The continued insistance that either Danvers or Wanda is the most powerful being in the Universe is equally deus ex machina-inducing. It’s extremely telling how the adolescent pissing match between Thor and The Hulk is written into the script but the question of whether Wanda or Cpt. Marvel is more powerful is blasted, painfully, at the 4th wall.

    Rambeau was a decent intro to the Wandavision arc but it could’ve been done just as well or better with Agent Carter or even Agent Park himself. Rambeau’s ascension to Captain Marvel was clearly shoehorned in and, IMO, indicates what I said above. They fucked up Captain Marvel so bad with Brie Larson that they couldn’t do a standup/standalone torch-passing with Monica Rambeau and are willing to fuck up other story lines in order to make it happen.

    1. Overpowered characters always suck. It removes all dramatic tension.

      It is a close cousin to the Mary Sue phenomenon. If a character never faces any real threat or real obstacle, the story becomes boring, no matter how many CGI enemies come flying at your hero.

      They had to give Superman kryptonite in order to reintroduce tension. And even then, there was that cringe moment all the way back in the Christopher Reeve movie when Superman gets his powers back and returns to a diner where he was bullied and beats up his bully. Wow. You can withstand nuclear bombs and rotate planets… But you stop to throw a guy through a pinball machine because you couldn’t stand up to him when you were mortal. Weak!

      Carol Danvers does the same thing at the denouement of Captain Marvel, using her gifted and unearned powers to best her nemesis, saying that she doesn’t need to prove anything to him! You go girl! Powerful enough to fly right through world destroying ships that can defeat the most powerful planetary defenses in the galaxy…. And you can best up a regular dude with your energy blast power. Woo-hoo!

      Same cringe moment from the Superman movie 45 years earlier.

      Even as a 10 year old kid, I knew the Superman bully scene was petty and weak, even though every kid has fantasies of being gifted enough strength to overcome their bully and give him his comeuppance.

      That is why these movies don’t work.

      Getting super powers is a YA trope for a reason. It speaks to the issues kids face as they come of age. But there must be a cost, an adversary that really poses a threat, and power must be earned in some way.

      Harry Potter works because he must learn to use his power and he faces a lethal enemy. Luke Skywalker works for the same reason. iron Man invents his power, and even then he must learn to weild it, and it comes at a risk and a cost…. So it works.

      Captain Marvel has the obstacle of not remembering her past and not realizing that she is indestructible. She faces no real threat. She doesn’t work.

      Rey from the new star wars bests the greatest sith Lord with a lightsaber the first time she picks one up. She resists his force power without any knowledge of the force at all. She wins every battle, despite being outgunned and having no background that suggests her battle prowess. She doesn’t work.

      You cannot have the hero’s journey if you are already invincible when you start out.

      1. >>having no background that suggests her battle prowess

        jumped in and flew the Falcon like a champ too.

      2. Overpowered characters work best if they have trouble controlling their powers. Wandavision works because Wanda might be nearly omnipotent, but she is out of control. Yes at full power, she can overwhelm Strange with raw force. However, she is just as likely to be beaten by a street thug, while the Sorcerer Supreme can consistently use his power like a scalpel.

        Similarly, in Teen Titans, Raven is stronger than the rest of the team combined by an order of magnitude, being on Superman level. However, her power is dangerous and difficult to control, so she regulates herself to a similar power to Starfire or Cyborg.

      3. Captain Marvel has the obstacle of not remembering her past and not realizing that she is indestructible. She faces no real threat. She doesn’t work.

        Which was why they had Rogue steal her powers in the comics. Captain Marvel has always been a dull as dishwater character, and having Rogue wield them provided an extra edge and dimension for the latter’s character development into one of the more sympathetic X-Men.

    2. The continued insistance that either Danvers or Wanda is the most powerful being in the Universe is equally deus ex machina-inducing. It’s extremely telling how the adolescent pissing match between Thor and The Hulk is written into the script but the question of whether Wanda or Cpt. Marvel is more powerful is blasted, painfully, at the 4th wall.

      I was reading some listicle that ranked the Marvel characters in order of their strength, and it pointed out how the MCU actually nerfs Thor frequently and arbitrarily for the purposes of storytelling, even while they’re simping for Wanda and Danvers.

      With Wanda, there is a legitimate question of how powerful she actually is, because that comes up in the comics, too. And Danvers never came close to killing Thanos. She stalemated him right before he used the Power stone to pimp slap her into the turf. Wanda, on the other hand, was working on tearing Thanos apart down to the molecules before he opened up the guns from his ships on everybody.

  8. “S.W.O.R.D., an unyielding government bureaucracy that possesses Vision’s remains, adds to Wanda’s trauma by refusing to let her give him a proper burial.”

    Vision was an android. Wouldn’t the eco-friendly thing to do be to recycle him?

    1. 36% aluminum alloy . . .

  9. I only saw 6 of the 9 episodes, which was all that were on my queue of episodes. Is Wanda playing a trick on me as I speak?

    1. Sorry, I seen 4 out of 9. Now I see the other episodes…Damn! That bitch! She’s running that town like her own Stepford, with Vision as her Stepford Husband! And she’s not saying: “Westview, but no further.” All to capture some lost dream!

      The only thing that could make this redeemable is a Dallas-style ending!

      1. Anyone who has felt trapped for the past year, be it from loss or from lockdowns, will have some sympathy for Wanda, even as it becomes obvious that her coping mechanisms are coercive and destructive. Superheroes, like normal people, can suffer only so much. That’s something both S.W.O.R.D. and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should keep in mind.

        So what exactly is Robby saying?
        #TruthAndReconciliationBetweenMortalPeonsAndOverpoweredAssholes?#NonLethalForceForMassEnslavers?
        #PrisonAbolitionForSuperVillians?

  10. The Dick van Dyke show started and ended the family sit com.

    MTM was supposed to be a side character. Turned out differently.

  11. I remember reading a copy of the Red Skull origin story where he went on about what a tough life he’d had. Captain America just says, “lots of us have tough lives, but you chose to respond by being a really evil dick,” or words to that effect.

    Well, Wanda had her tough life, and responds by enslaving an entire village* – but we’re supposed to sympathize with her suffering.

    It’s just as well, I shouldn’t be watching the Wokest Channel on Earth anyway.

    *Or as Jeff Goldblum’s character said in the Thor movie, “don’t say slaves, they’re prisoners with jobs.”

    1. Woke Disney is willing to contextualize slavery and promote maudlin sympathy for the enslaver – I wonder if they take the same stance toward statues of slaveowners?

  12. I was reading some listicle that ranked the Marvel characters in order of their strength, and it pointed out how the MCU actually nerfs Thor frequently and arbitrarily for the purposes of storytelling, even while they’re simping for Wanda and Danvers.
    https ://wapexclusive.com ,With Wanda, there is a legitimate question of how powerful she actually is, because that comes up in the comics, too. And Danvers never came close to killing Thanos. She stalemated him right before he used the
    https ://wapexclusive.com ,Power stone to pimp slap her into the turf. Wanda, on the other hand, was working on tearing Thanos apart down to the molecules before he opened up the guns from his ships on everybody.

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