'Splainin to do

WandaVision nails the one thing Avengers: Endgame failed to do

It's not that difficult to show superheroes being human.

Originally Published: 

Time jumps are a valuable resource. The Marvel Cinematic Universe's time jump in Avengers: Endgame allowed its entire world to shift to a new normal so the powerful emotions caused by the loss of so many in Infinity War could sink in. At the time, it felt like a huge step for Marvel, but WandaVision just revealed how shallow Endgame's portrayal of grief really was.

By jumping forward in time, Endgame skipped over the hard part of actually processing grief. In WandaVision Episode 7, we see the ugly truth, unbrushed hair and all.

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The concept of WandaVison being focused on Wanda's grief is not new. Since the beginning, many fans assumed that Wanda's loss of Vision was so devastating she'd created a pocket universe where she could process the five stages of grief, starting with denial. Wanda manifested a world where she could not only live in denial in her own head but everywhere around her.

WandaVision and grief

Wanda unleashes her powers at Monica in Episode 3.

Marvel Studios

While Endgame focused on the motivation to fix things years after a loss, WandaVision shows the full truth of what grief often looks like — sanitized at first, but falling apart at the seams as the denial falls away bit by bit. The next stage, anger, is released when Monica is exposed for who she is. Still unable to face the music, she lashes out and blasts Monica out of Westview completely in Episode 3.

Then comes bargaining in Episode 6, which in Westview manifests itself as the expansion of the Hex boundaries. Because Vision is starting to see through the Westview anomaly, she bargains in order to keep him with her by sacrificing the control she has over her surroundings. Sure, he's still alive, but at the start of WandaVision Episode 7, the world Wanda created has become unstable. Even her telepathic son's mind is "being noisy."

For most of WandaVision Episode 7, where Wanda is in the depths of the fourth stage of grief — depression. It's not very heroic to just lie in bed for hours before getting up to eat a bowl of cereal, but sometimes that's just what depression looks like, and it's exciting to see that in a Marvel superhero story.

Depression, thankfully, is the penultimate stage of grief. In Episode 8, we should see Wanda move into acceptance. The only complication is that in WandaVision, acceptance means accepting that your husband is dead, your neighbor is an evil witch, and a small militia is trying to kill you. It's a lot for one woman, so she deserved her self-care episode.

WandaVision and depression

The cheery commercial for Nexus.

Marvel Studios

If it wasn't clear enough that Wanda is depressed, the episode's commercial break is styled like an antidepressant commercial, showing the same actress from the other live-action commercials taking an antidepressant that is implied to keep you in a separate reality from the "real world."

"Do not stop taking Nexus unless your doctor has cleared you to move on with your life," it reads.

While this gets the point across that Wanda is using her denial as a coping mechanism, it also equates her actions with antidepressants, which could be stigmatizing. There's nothing wrong with taking medication for mental illness, but Wanda's behavior is basically the equivalent of not seeking treatment for a mental health issue.

Grief takes all forms, but it's nice that Marvel is acknowledging it's not always just letting your roots grow out and eating a peanut butter sandwich like Black Widow in Avengers: Endgame (nor is it always seeing the good in the situation, like a pod of whales in the Hudson River). Sometimes, it's just not being able to be a person for a day, other times it leads to a need for medication.

Hopefully, by the end of WandaVision, Wanda will realize how unhealthy her coping mechanism was and she'll seek help for the trauma she's expressed and, as Pietro rightly pointed out, suppressed. Whether that help is memory erasure courtesy of Agatha Harkness or just some good old fashioned talk therapy, Wanda will eventually face up to her situation and live to fight another day. After all, she's already confirmed for Doctor Strange 2.

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