This article contains spoilers for WandaVision…
While it was off to a slow start, WandaVision’s plot is now in full swing. Over the weeks it’s become obvious that Wanda’s strange, sitcom life in Westview is of her own doing, and that she is controlling the town’s residents to create a suburban utopia where Vision never died. Grief lies at the centre of her motives; she is so overwhelmed by the loss of those she loves that she will do anything to preserve the ideal life she has created. Stuck in the denial stage of her grief, Wanda’s determination to protect her fake reality is pushing her towards villainy, and this is deeply problematic for her overall character arc.
While Wanda is sympathetic, she is clearly becoming the villain of her own show. Along with her denial comes a desperation to maintain the façade, and that has warped into a willingness to defend her creation at all costs. The Wanda Maximoff we see in the latest episodes is more like the version of her presented in Avengers: Age of Ultron. She uses her powers to mess with peoples’ minds in disturbing ways, like when S.W.O.R.D acting director Tyler Hayward is held at gunpoint by his own men. She also becomes violent with Pietro when faced with the possibility of Vision dying again, showing that she is even willing to harm her loved ones to preserve her vision of Westview.
Using her powers to control others might have been Wanda’s M.O before joining the Avengers, but this is exactly why doing it again now, post Endgame, is counter-productive. Throughout her time in the MCU, Wanda has done all she can to distance herself from her past, and from being viewed as a villain. While she’s never received an awful amount of screen time (probably because this is her first ‘solo’ outing in the cinematic universe), her attitude towards her powers is best shown in Civil War.
After receiving bad publicity for causing collateral damage, Wanda spends almost the entire film cooped up in the Avengers Tower. This isn’t just to escape from scrutiny, but because she genuinely feels terrible about harming innocent people. The guilt she feels is evident. She has tried so hard to be viewed as a hero, that it makes no sense for her to use her powers the way she does in WandaVision. Instead of further developing her character, the show is taking her character arc backwards.
This is a true waste of her potential as a hero, and is entirely down to the way she has been treated by the writers of the MCU. In the course of the few films she’s been in, she’s lost both her twin brother and her romantic partner, yet she has never been given time to grieve. Very little attention has been paid to her as a person, except for the moments that form her relationship with Vision. Instead, she has been brought out for the major team-up films, usually to be used as the ‘big guns’ because of her sheer power. Looking back on her role in the films leading up to Avengers: Endgame, there are few moments where she’s not either a warrior, or a love interest.
From the character’s perspective, it’s no wonder she’s had a complete breakdown and created a fake reality. There’s been absolutely no time to take a breather and deal with her traumatic experiences. But this doesn’t change the fact that her sudden villainous turn seems out of character, as well as being far less intriguing than the alternatives. A WandaVision where Wanda is trapped against her will would be much more exciting than reducing her to the role of a grieving girlfriend in denial.
The series isn’t over yet, so we’ll have to see what becomes of Wanda by the end of the season. But at the moment, it seems that she’s being problematically forced back into villainy, all because the writers can’t think of what else to do with her.
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