Every superhero story has a villain. It's just how the genre works. Someone is doing something very bad so the good guys have to come together to solve to problem, stop the bad, and save the day. Generally, the identity of the villain is pretty easy for the audience to sort out and that's where the latest from Marvel Studios, WandaVision, deviates from the norm. The Disney+ series has established that something is very "wrong" with Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) somehow having created her own reality that includes people who may not be there of their own free will, but they've never explicitly stated who the "bad guy" here is. However, this week's episode -- the appropriately titled "On a Very Special Episode..." -- went a long way to suggest that Wanda herself may be the bad guy. It's a theory that fans have entertained almost from the first episode of the series given some of the character's story arcs in comics, but even with this week's episode offering new details, the idea that Wanda is the villain may be a red herring. Wanda Maximoff may not be the villain at all but instead a victim herself.
Warning: spoilers for this week's episode of WandaVision, "On a Very Special Episode..." below.
This week's episode offered some new details about what's been going on in the world outside of Westview and it's those details that, while on the surface seem damning of Wanda as the villain, really point to the idea that Wanda is being played by someone else. The first major clue to this is the timeline. WandaVision takes place roughly a month after the end of Avengers: Endgame. This is something that's established in "We Interrupt This Program" when we get Monica's (Teyonah Parris') story. We find out that Monica was one of those who vanished in the Snap and was restored in the Blip and we also find out that Monica returns to work at SWORD just three weeks after the Blip -- Hayward (Josh Stamberg) mentions that Monica is the first to return to work three weeks later. That timing is important because it's not too far from the last time viewers saw Wanda in Avengers: Endgame. In that film, we last saw her talking to Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) after Tony Stark/Iron Man's funeral and Wanda seemed to be in a good place. In the scene, Clint tells Wanda that he wished there was a way for Natasha/Black Widow to know that her sacrifice mattered because they won. Wanda reassures him that she does know and that Vision knows as well.
This scene is important and not just for the emotional weight it pulls in Endgame. That scene shows that while Wanda is grieving, she's come to a stable place with her pain, seemingly at the "acceptance" stage of her process. If Wanda is in that place with her grief where she’s sad but accepting of things at Tony's funeral, something likely triggered her actions that lead to what's going on WandaVision. That's something that is the episode answers pretty easily: the fate of Vision's body.
In the episode, we learn that Vision's body has been in SWORD's custody and just a few days before the events of the episode, Wanda stormed a SWORD facility and took back his body. While that itself may not seem to connect, it's some of the details in that scene that suggest it's Vision's body that may have been Wanda's trigger to ultimately create the "Maximoff Anomaly" in Westview. In the scene, we see surveillance footage of Wanda taking Vision's body and in that footage, it's pretty clear that Vision's "corpse" is in pieces. Now, you might remember that Vision's body didn't dust in the Snap so it's likely that SWORD has had Vision's body for years, which begs some questions about what they're doing with it. That's where something else that was mentioned in that scene comes into play.
Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) notes that Vision had a living will and didn't want to ever be anyone's weapon. Hayward uses that to claim that Wanda is violating Vision's wishes, but here's the thing: of anyone, Wanda would be the person most likely willing to fight to honor Vision's wishes while a government organization is the least likely. Marvel has more than a few times established you can't really trust the government. So, from Wanda's perspective, it's SWORD that is violating Vision's wishes and potentially trying to use his body for nefarious aims. Hayward can claim she's a violent terrorist all he wants, but the truth is more nuanced than that. Her breaking into the facility and taking Vision back isn't a "villain" move. She's doing what she can to respect her lost love's final wishes by taking him back from people she sees as abusing him. It also gives her something tangible she can do for the man she feels she failed. Remember, Wanda likely carries with her some guilt that she wasn’t able to save Vision and, in a larger sense, the world.
Even with that action explained, there still are some questions and one of those is how did Wanda know about the situation regarding Vision's body. That's where the question of who the real villain here is. If you're Team Mephisto, it's not hard to consider that Mephisto has given a grieving Wanda a nudge, suggesting to her that SWORD is her enemy as they are violating Vision and, potentially, that she could take his body and create an elaborate reality to protect him and herself. Consider it the shoulder devil saying "girl, go get your man and use your powers to keep the world away". Given how Wanda likely already feels pretty betrayed or at least abused by the government -- Captain America: Civil War, everyone? -- it could be enough to push Wanda into making a deal with the devil even if she didn't realize that's what she was doing.
You could even carry this general theory into a slightly different direction to factor in the theory that Hayward is himself connected to Mephisto. It's pretty clear that Hayward is determined to make Wanda out to be the bad guy; maybe he's doing this in connection to Mephisto who is manipulating multiple people in pursuit of a much longer game. Or, it may be more simple than that, with the entire situation a major manipulation by SWORD who has put this whole thing into motion to find out what Wanda is actually capable of.
In either scenario, it's pretty clear that Wanda isn't the villain. While her actions aren't heroic, they don't appear to be malicious either. There's some suggestion that Wanda isn't fully aware that what she's doing is hurting anyone -- and even Monica herself says that while Wanda threw her out of Westview, she also did it in a way that ensured Monica wouldn't be hurt in the process. Also, it's becoming more and more evident that Wanda may not be totally in control. We've started to see some of her grasp over Westview falter and we've also started to see her seemingly begin to come back to some rational thought. When Tommy and Billy's dog dies, Wanda talks to them about grief and pain and how you can't just "fix" the things that hurt you. It's probably no coincidence then that, in the next scene, Wanda admits she doesn't know how things started and then gets a surprising visitor, one that she swears she isn't responsible for: her deceased brother, Pietro -- only now "recast" (played by Evan Peters). He's a figure that many fans think could be Mephisto in disguise, but whoever it is, there's strong evidence that Wanda is as much a victim here as anyone else inside her sitcom world.
Now it’s your turn. Do you think Wanda is the villain? Do you think someone is pulling her strings? What do you think is going on? Let us know your thoughts in the comments or hit me up on Twitter @lifeinpolaroid to talk all things WandaVision!
The first five episodes of WandaVision are now streaming on Disney+. If you haven't signed up for Disney+ yet, you can try it out here.
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