'WandaVision' is an intimate look at what Wanda Maximoff desires most

Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany from the trailer for WandaVision.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany from the trailer for WandaVision. (Image credit: Disney+)

This post contains spoilers for WandaVision.

Wanda Maximoff and Vision have always been one of Marvel Comics' odd couples. He is a synthetic being, and she can manipulate objects and create realities, but that’s where their differences have always ended. An enormous part of both of these characters has been their desire for normalcy. Those familiar with the couple from the comics know the universe has never been kind enough to them for that to happen, especially Wanda. However, she can bend real life to her will. So, what's a great way to make a world that would allow you to be your idea of normal? Classic American sitcoms, that’s how, and that is the brilliance of the first two episodes of Marvel Studios’ WandaVision

Wanda and Vision made their live-action debuts in Avengers: Age of Ultron. After that, all of a sudden, they were working their way to something like a budding relationship in Captain America: Civil War. The next thing you know, their love affair has been destroyed by Thanos by the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Not a whole lot of time to establish Wanda, Vision, or much of their relationship. There is just enough to give us a peek into who they are and what they may want. Vision wants to be as human as possible. Wanda is tired of not having control and having others control her in turn. By the time we get to Avengers: Infinity War, the pair have been getting what they crave from one another, Vision feels human with her, and Wanda is free to be in control of her own life with him. Their brief happiness is tragically cut short, and the extent of that trauma is highlighted the beginning of this series. 

The Scarlet Witch is not at all okay, and the first two episodes of WandaVision do a phenomenal job of establishing that. Plenty of chaos is present, but it’s not the distracting kind that leads to billions in property damages. The first two episodes have early sitcom formatting to them. They’re even in black and white, adding to the eeriness and aesthetic of it all. Something is wrong, and there are hints throughout episodes to indicate that Wanda might have something to do with it. The assumption is that she’s conjuring up these realities herself. But the possibility exists that she's having her powers used against her, taking us back to one of Wanda's greatest fears.

Wanda and Visions’ relationship has always been weird, but it’s provocative, and it gets the people going. The chemistry is present in the show, and it helps to fill in some of the gaps left by the movies. Watching Wanda have moments of enjoying a "regular" life modeled after shows like I Love Lucy and Bewitched gives some idea of how she wished they could be. Or how someone thinks she wishes they could be, we still don’t know for sure who is doing all the reality twisting. Having these characters in a setting with low stakes — even though there are high stakes present — fits them perfectly. As a couple in the comics, they trade in their dangerous lives for low-level drama when they left the Avengers together.

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Wanda and Vision having a small communication misunderstanding that leads to sitcom hijinx is everything and makes you want to root for these characters even though none of it makes sense. At one point, it's clear that Wanda does desire Vision in a way that you hope she takes full advantage of him being a distant cousin to the Hitachi wand. 

Seeing them interact with one another and other characters let us focus on the kind of life Wanda wanted but had ripped from away her. It gives her pain a heartier backstory, which makes how hard she fault off Thanos to save Vision more emotional weight because we have a better representation of why she was fighting so hard. There is also an incentive to invest in understanding how she works through it, be it positively or not. 

It’s all very reminiscent of their second limited comic series, Vision and the Scarlet Witch. The couple leaves the Avengers and moves to a small town, Leonia, where they try to live an ordinary life, but strange things keep happening. Regardless, Wanda does what she can to make it as routine as possible. She even makes herself pregnant a few issues into the series, something she also does by the end of episode two in WandaVision. It’s all very heteronormative, which adds another layer of unease because something is bound to go left trying to force that construct with a dead sentient synthetic. 

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the series plays out and how characters like Monica Rambeau and Agatha Harkness fit into Wanda’s fantasy, and more importantly, how and why they're there. But for now, we’ve got our Wanda and Vision, at least until things eventually crumble.