In a post truth world, what are facts? President Trump refused to accept his loss for over two months. His actions enabled a section of people to violently pursue an insurrection against the elected government.
In such a scenario, the affected human seeks out comfort against this reality. What if one such human, in denial with the reality, chooses an echo chamber that validates their existence? Would you call that fantasy?
Or would you call that, to paraphrase the iconic Bill Waterson, being selective about the reality you accept? This forms the core of Marvel’s first post-Avengers Endgame offering - Wandavision; a series that continuously questions what is crueler - a reality you chose to deny or a fantasy that you chose to adapt?
In Wandavision, we get to look at the two titular characters provide a study in contrast to anger. Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) has shock red hair, wears red clothes, her eyes turn red everytime she gets angry. She lives in a red hex.
You get the drift by now. Red has long been associated with anger in pop culture and Wanda lives and breathes the emotion. Contrast that to Vision (Paul Bettany), who has all but a streak of red.
He is the Aristotlean stoic who gets “angry at the right person to the right degree, for the right amount of time and for the right purpose.” The show, through its 9 episodes, traverses multiple decades from the 1960s to 2010’s with the popular sitcoms of those decades forming the core. As it moves from the black-and-white era to colour era, the show also becomes angrier - with subtlety slowly giving space for showmanship.
With each passing episode, I was wondering if I was getting more than I bargained for from this show. To the inhabitants of the fictional town of Westview, they probably wondered the same too. The cries of help to beings of higher power is at once comical and deeply disturbing. The writing consistently uses the dark humour motif to underpin the absence of choice in the everyday human life.
The writing also bridges the past and present of the Marvel Cinematic Universe adroitly and at the same time deepens the lore by introducing iconic characters from the comic verse. In the finale, with its typical mid-credits and end-credits scenes, Marvel’s writing deftly makes you wonder about few specific events in the last three phases of the MCU and sets it all up for next year’s Doctor Strange 2.
The sound design of the show, is largely unobtrusive but at certain poignant moments, uses the most powerful sound - that of silence. The fifth episode (On a Very Special Episode...), the sixth (All-New Halloween Spooktacular!) and last two episodes (Previously On & The Series Finale) in particular, have their inflection points, that showcase the vagaries of human existence. Do humans really have a choice in their actions? Or is everything predecided for them? Do we have an all-mighty being controlling every single whim? Are these words that you are reading pre-destined?
Death is never easy to come to terms with. There is always an Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) who offers distraction from reality. She is the smile you long forgot to wear. She is the comfort you long forgot to experience. But when you look past what the world offers you, beyond the facades, you realise that truth will always come calling. This is not just an acceptance for Wanda and Vision, but also the multitudes of the fans of Marvel Cinematic Universe after the events of Avengers: Endgame.
Wandavision is Marvel personifying the Albus Dumbledore quote - “To the well organised mind, Death is but the next great adventure.” As you move past your five stages of grief vis-a-vis the events of the Infinity Era, just like Wanda Maximoff does in this show, you will realise what Vision really meant when he said, “What is grief, if not love persevering?”
Cast: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn
Created by: Jac Schaeffer
Director: Matt Shakman