Arts & Reviews

WandaVision Analysis: A Head-Spinning, Psychological Take On Suburbia

By: Emmanuelle Feria

*This article contains spoilers. View at your own discretion* 

WandaVision, Marvel’s newest release, has garnered much attention and speculation from Marvel fans throughout the world and the country. The series premiered on January 15th, of this year on Disney+ and has become an incredibly popular, binge-worthy show. Since its debut, WandaVision has enjoyed massive success, boasting a 93% fresh critic score and 80% fresh audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. In its production stage, $25 million was allotted to the filming and production of each episode of WandaVision.

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There is currently only one season comprising 8 episodes released on a weekly basis, keeping fans on the edge of their seats. There are currently only 7 out at the moment, with the 8th episode set for February 26th. Set in suburbia, WandaVision surrounds the lives of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and a resurrected Vision (Paul Bettany) as they navigate married life together, with each episode occurring in a different sitcom decade, starting from the 1950s to the 2000s. In doing so, the show pays homage to sitcoms and to Elizabeth Olsen’s sitcom heritage, as her sisters starred in Full House. Despite the idyllic nature of Wanda’s convincing sitcom suburbia, it soon becomes clear to Vision and the viewers that something is deeply awry. 

WandaVision is Marvel’s trippiest feat yet and only becomes more mind-boggling as new episodes are released, leaving viewers with more unanswered questions. Many fans have begun speculating and formulating their own theories ranging from the enigma’s of Wanda’s accent changes to the true villain of the show. It becomes increasingly complicated to sift through Wanda’s web of lies and the ever-increasing implications of Wanda’s intricate schemes. 

Westview is revealed to be the setting of the sitcom in the fourth episode, yet it is clear through Monica Rambeau (Teyonnah Parris) and Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) that Westview does not actually exist. This discovery indicates to viewers that Wanda’s power has drastically increased since her debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron, going from levitating and destruction to manipulating people’s perceptions of reality and their very thoughts and actions. Wanda even allows for the creation of her and Vision’s children and resurrects Vision through shielding him from the harsh constructs of reality, where he is dead. 

The show masterfully plays off of the signature aesthetics of each decade, utilizing the decade to showcase various societal norms and expectations at the time while showcasing diverse character representation. In the first episode–set in the 1950s–the wife of Vision’s boss inquires why Wanda and Vision don’t have children, showcasing the expectation of child-rearing during the period, and how Vision and Wanda would realistically be unable to achieve this notion of what people saw as the “ideal” family due to Vision being an AI. 

Wanda and Vision themselves assert that they are “an unusual couple” throughout the first and second episodes and strive to fit into their community, showcasing the conformity culture of the 50s and 60s. In episode 2, Wanda and Vision unexpectedly conceive, and the twins are born in the following episode. The third episode is set in the 70s’ and follows Wanda’s pregnancy, which is sped up for comedic effect. Her pregnancy spans three days and the delivery is abnormally quick as well. The speediness of this otherwise lengthy event could represent how Wanda wants to speed through her grief and pain from losing Vision at the hands of Thanos, or was subconsciously recalling the repressed memory of how quickly she lost Pietro–her own twin– in Age of Ultron

Both Vision and Pietro haunt Wanda’s memory several times throughout the episodes, particularly when they each ask her “Wanda, are you alright?” or some other variation of the question. She abruptly sees a lifeless vision with soulless eyes and no soul stone in Episode 3. Later on in the series, she sees Pietro with lifeless eyes and bullet holes through his chest in Episode 6, conveying the depth of Wanda’s trauma and how she cannot truly escape it, despite her best attempts to forget Quicksilver and Vision’s tragic, untimely deaths. Wanda resents her own inability to prevent the deaths of those she loved the most, and is haunted by her lack of control over life and death, as seen when Tommy says “you can do anything… bring back the dead”. She affirms the limits of her powers in being unable to prevent death by telling her son Tommy “No, I can’t”. 

While Wanda realizes the limits of her own powers, she overcompensates and instills control over everyone that she has held hostage in Westview to the point where the people of Westview can’t even control their own thoughts. Monica Rambeau, who was absorbed into the bubble Wanda created and mind-controlled by Wanda, described Wanda’s control as “excruciating” and “a violation”. Wanda’s excruciating mind control was conveyed through other characters, who said “it hurts” and “make it stop” and “she’s in my head”, causing intrusive mental torment and hearing her voice in their heads, which is comparable to schizophrenia. These first person accounts convey the extent that trauma not only affects individuals internally, but how destructive it can become once it manifests itself externally and can no longer be repressed.  

Wanda’s mind control also calls back a scene in Avengers: Infinity War. Wanda utters to Thanos, who killed Vision, “You took everything from me”. This line could connect to WandaVision and be a manifestation of Thanos stripping Wanda of her joy and future, as Wanda has similarly deprived the people of Westview from. She yearns to make people understand how she felt and still feels after being robbed of love and deprived of her last chance at joy– Vision. Wanda feels that the mental exploitation of others is the only means to regain the things she lost, the only way for her to have the life she hoped to have with Vision. Westview was entirely fabricated by Wanda, from the clothes to the town itself, as a coping mechanism for her immense pain and grief. Wanda herself “doesn’t know” how it started, but remembers feeling “alone” and grappling with a feeling of “emptiness”. Perhaps she was pushed to the breaking point by an outside force or character, who wanted to antagonize the Avengers. Or perhaps, someone wants to steal her powers. 

Some fans speculate that Dottie is the villain of the show, as she only appeared in the 2nd episode, while others believe Quicksilver to be the villain, who was unexpectedly recast by Evan Peters, X-Men and Fox’s version of the character before Marvel bought the rights to Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Agnes and Quicksilver seem to be the most aware of their roles in Wanda’s sitcom and in their own lack of control. Agnes seemed completely unphased when the twins aged rapidly, when Wanda made a dog collar appear out of thin air and when Sparky was found and died on the same day in Episode 5. Pietro showcases a similar awareness of his role in Westview, yet doesn’t remember certain elements of his past, telling Wanda that he was shot “for no reason at all” despite having sacrificed himself for Hawkeye and a young Sokovian boy in Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

In Episode 6 there were many immobile people towards the edges of the Hex, which Vision noticed when he was attempting to escape. The people frozen in time or repetitively completing mundane tasks in Wanda’s reality could signify Wanda’s diminishing control over the town, and how her increasing awareness of the outside world is taking a toll on her ability to maintain Westview. Episode 6 also marked the apex of Vision’s awareness of Wanda’s reality manipulation, as he successfully escaped the Hex only to die, once again, outside of it. His second death disproved Pietro’s assertion that Wanda’s “dead husband can’t die twice”, leading viewers to question how Pietro is aware of Vision’s death and if he is aware of the events of Avengers: Infinity War. Wanda then drastically extended the Hex, absorbing the SWORD team and its leader, along with Darcy Lewis. Monica and Agent Woo were the only ones that were not shown being absorbed into the Hex, which hints that they will be the ones to put an end to the “Westview anomaly”. Only time will tell as new episodes are released and convoluted elements are clarified by the creators. Until then, viewers will keep speculating and unraveling the many mysteries of WandaVision.