I did not expect to cry at the end of the season finale of WandaVision.
As you know, I was expecting a celebrity-visit from either American pop culture royalty or some staggeringly clever insider Marvel Comics Universe thematic embroidery.
But what we got was a brilliantly crafted reflection of our times during a pandemic when we as a country and individuals have lost so much, harking back to what I have always considered the ultimate Marvel thematic statement: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
The finale episode made it very clear that Wanda Maximoff, now the fully empowered Scarlet Witch – the most powerful supernatural creature in this universe – can literally create and orchestrate the lives of a small town, as well as bring back the dead and create offspring from the dead as well. We’ve seen versions of ultimate power multiple times in various superhero stories, but what makes this story so unique is that we all know that anyone who has lost someone they cannot live without, and loved children they want to protect, would conceivably do anything to keep them loved and safe. How many of us wouldn’t bring back our loved ones at almost any cost?
When Wanda realizes that the cost of her love and grief is the freedom of the inhabitants of this town she has taken over, and, perhaps, the future of the world as she battles Agatha for power, she gives up the man she loves more than anything in the world and the children she had with him. In the final scene between Vision and Wanda, where Vision asks her what he is and they say good-bye, these words explained the theme of the whole show: “You are the piece of the mind stone that lives in me. You are a body of wires and blood and bone that I created. You are my sadness and my hope...but mostly, you’re my love."
This nine-episode treatise on what I thought was American pop culture but turned out to be a surprisingly powerful look at absolute power, love and grief is one of the best things ever on TV. The amazing contrast of high and low brow concepts was staggering, especially the fascinating existential dialog on the Ship of Theseus which has now crossed over from obscure philosophy to pop culture.
Superhero characters never really examine their grief and loss – Peter Parker never really reacts to Uncle Ben’s death or Bruce Wayne to his parents being gunned down in front of him – but that may be because a) there was no room to explore this in the tight, male-dominated format of past comic books and movies and b) this show was written by a lot of women (and some dudes) and featured a female main character. Perhaps this is the new direction of the MCU? Just imagine the possibilities. I am sure Marvel/Disney have, as they realize that WandaVision received more viewers than even the groundbreaking statistics of Netflix’s Bridgerton.