How WandaVision helped me process our pandemic year
I’m a sucker for a good woman superhero. Gal Gadot as my beloved Wonder Woman? SWOON. Scarlett Johansson as who-needs-powers-when-you-just-totally-kick-ass Natasha Romanoff? Perfection. And then there’s Elizabeth Olson as the all powerful Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff).
My introduction to the Marvel universe came like many others who didn’t grow up on the comics. For me, it started with Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark in “Iron Man” in 2008. That was the year my son was born so he kind of grew up with this expanding cast of characters and now, as an almost 13-year-old, he knows much more about this comic history than I do.
WandaVision, the first episodic leap into the Marvel universe for streaming service Disney+, helped us understand more about Maximoff’s history in that world as well as the relationship with her partner, Vision. I thought the series would show us about a Marvel world after The Snap, but I didn’t expect what it ended up doing: Brilliantly walking us through the stages of grief that marked a year of fear, uncertainty, rage and sadness during a devastating pandemic. Here’s how:
Black-and-white. That’s how the series starts -- with crisp collars, high heels and a well-appointed kitchen that marked the sitcoms of the 1950s. It’s kind of like the way we started the pandemic in March 2020, very black and white. We had to stay home. We had to wash our hands. We had to stay six feet apart. Without school or after-school commitments, we were suddenly cooking a lot of meals at home and we were eating together AS A FAMILY all the time. Just like the WandaVision audience of that first episode, we really didn’t know what was going on… but we stuck with it because, really, what else were we going to do?
Color and questions. What came next -- in the pandemic and on WandaVision -- also feels similar. As the months of the pandemic progressed, we started looking around and asking, “How long are we going to be here?” And -- as the show moves to a color picture -- we see Vision looking around the world that Wanda created, wondering why things don’t add up. In the summer and fall of 2020, the uncertainty of that period felt endless and heavy. At such a critical time, many of us were asking questions too, like: “Who is going to help us?”
The bubble. In WandaVision, it’s The Hex, but for us over the past year, it was The Bubble. Households hunkered down like it was a blizzard for 12 months. Wanda made a barrier from the outside world where her partner no longer existed and stayed inside of it with the version of Vision she created, with their children. That setup created a safe place for Wanda just like our bubbles -- although much more boring -- also kept us safe.
Power and pulling strings. “It was Agatha all along!” The big reveal in Episode 7 has been among my most favorite parts of television since the pandemic started. And that covers a LOT of television, which -- for our family -- has included “The Office,” and “Tiger King,” and “Queen’s Gambit,” and “Bly Manor,” and “Hill House,” and “The Mandalorian” and … The big WandaVision reveal was pure joy and a good reminder that there can be hilarity and laughter even in the weirdest of times. Oh, and also: Kathryn Hahn was made for this role.
Love persevering. Even if you’re among those fortunate enough to get through the past 12 months without losing a loved one to this virus, we all lost something over the year. We lost time together, missing birthday celebrations and skipping family milestones. In WandaVision, the all-knowing synthezoid Vision is still learning about being a human. During a flashback, as he tries to console a grieving Wanda, he asks, “What is grief, if not love persevering?”
I think that’s us over the past year, love trying desperately to persevere.