Marvel Studios' WandaVision is roughly at its midpoint with its recent fourth episode, "We Interrupt This Program" and while the events of the episode have begun to offer major explanations for some of what is going on in the curious world of Westview, plenty of theories still abound as for who -- or what -- may be causing Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) to manipulate the world around her into a strange series of sitcom-like settings. One of the biggest theories is that the Lord of Lies himself, Mephisto, could be pulling Wanda's strings and while, with five episodes left, it's possible that the closest thing Marvel has to the devil himself will indeed prove to be the mastermind, the Disney+ series doesn't need Mephisto to tell a powerful story. In fact, the Marvel Cinematic Universe may be better served by letting WandaVision be Wanda's story with no devilish strings attached, choosing to instead telling an authentic story of grief, trauma, and the impact both can have on even a powerful individual like the Scarlet Witch.
Even in comics, Wanda's story is a tragic one, but Scarlet Witch's story in the MCU puts a bit of a finer point on just how much suffering she's endured. While we don't know a lot about Wanda's life before we're properly introduced to her in Avengers: Age of Ultron, what we do know is heartbreaking. When she and her twin brother, Pietro, were 10 years old, the apartment building she and her family lived in in Sokovia was hit by a mortar shell. Wanda's parents were killed while she and her brother ended up trapped in the rubble having hidden under a bed. They remained there for days, an unexploded shell with "Stark Industries" printed on it right in front of them. While the pair were rescued, the children spent two days not only dealing with the literal explosion of their world but the terror that the shell right in front of them could explode at any moment and kill them, too. From there, they go on to be recruited by HYDRA -- who plays on their desire to save their war-torn country -- and are experimented on resulting in their superpowers. Later, they end up manipulated by Ultron and used for those powers and while both Wanda and Pietro ultimately side with the Avengers, Wanda suffers major losses. Not only does she witness Sokovia devastated once again, but Pietro is killed meaning that Wanda has now lost literally everything.
While Wanda ends up becoming an Avenger and arguably has a place to belong after the events in Sokovia, there's still more trauma that the young woman has to deal with. During a mission to Lagos, Nigeria, Wanda accidentally blows up a building and kills most of its occupants. The mistake and loss of life haunt Wanda, though even more significant trauma is yet to come -- specifically when she first has to effectively kill the man she loves, Vision (Paul Bettany), to stop Thanos (Josh Brolin) from getting the Mind Stone in Avengers: Infinity War and then has to watch in horror as Thanos simply reverses time, undoes her action, and then murders Vision himself. That Vision is not among those returned to life with the Blip is undone only compounds that loss.
Any one of the things that Wanda endures in the MCU would be enough for anyone to deal with, but Wanda's entire life is one trauma after another and it's pretty clear by now in WandaVision that, on some level, her manipulation of Westview is very much her way of dealing with that trauma. The idea that Wanda has reached a breaking point -- possibly one triggered by Vision not being returned to life after the events of Avengers: Endgame -- is something that even the most casual Marvel fan can understand. Who hasn't experienced a loss that they wish they had the power to "fix"? Denial is one of the five stages of the grief process and while Wanda's grief and reaction to it are dialed to an eleven given her losses, there's something human about her denial. Inserting Mephisto as a prompt for Wanda's actions would cheapen things.
Having Mephisto ultimately revealed to be pulling Wanda's strings would also take away much of Wanda's agency by having her yet again be a victim. Wanda is presented as arguably the most powerful character in the MCU -- she held off Thanos in Infinity War with one hand while destroying the Mind Stone with the other -- but when it comes to her emotional arcs and ownership of her experiences, she hasn't really been given any space process what she's been through. Leaving Mephisto out of WandaVision and having this be entirely Wanda's doing allows for that and, possibly, the most authentic take on trauma we've seen yet from Marvel Studios as Wanda is consumed by her feelings and experiences.
And given Wanda's power set, even if WandaVision ends with Wanda coming out on the other side of her pain and trauma, the door could still easily be open for what she's done in Westview to create conflict and problems that can carry into other MCU properties. We’ve already got the involvement of SWORD and it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to imagine that what happens in Wanda’s Westview could have larger implications for the multiverse – messing with reality is, after all, a tricky thing. The opportunities here are virtually endless.
Ultimately, Marvel is going to introduce into WandaVision whatever they feel will best advance their overall franchise story, but there's a real opportunity here to let WandaVision be a story without a "gotcha" or a comic book-style reveal. The series is in a position to truly give Scarlet Witch a raw, relatable story about love, loss, and grief that not only is entertaining for fans but respects the character for her strength and her humanity. The devil doesn't need to make her do it; Wanda deserves her own emotional arc and an opportunity to come out the other side stronger for it.
The first four episodes of WandaVision are now streaming on Disney+. If you haven't signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.0comments
What do you think? Does WandaVision need Mephisto to be involved or should the series allow Wanda to have her own emotional arc? Let us know in the comments or hit our writer up on Twitter @lifeinpolaroid to chat all things Scarlet Witch!
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