A strange sense of entitlement surrounded WandaVision in recent weeks. Every week, the internet was abuzz with fan theories that were willed into existence by literally millions of fans the world over, followed by days of disappointment that followed when such fan theories never came to fruition. No, Reed Richards of the Fantastic Four wasn’t the aerospace engineer. No, Billy and Tommy being referred to as “demon spawn” didn’t result in their Mephisto lineage. No, Professor X wasn’t the Paul Bettany teased mega cameo in the finale to signify the start of the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse. As much as WandaVision aspired for greatness, this wasn’t a story about the wider Marvel canon, the clue was right there in the title; this show was always about Wanda and Vision.
“The Series Finale” delivers on a tremendous number of counts to end this brilliantly captivating series. The promised title fight between Wanda and Agatha lives up to expectations, and though it falls into the Marvel trap of having lots of shiny lights being launched between two superpowered beings with near identical powers, the underlying emotion of what it all means for our red-head protagonist grounds it into being something more. Wanda’s powers are a manifestation of her grief, protecting her from the horrors of reality that she is so desperately trying to avoid. The Hex is a literal barrier that keeps her and those she loves safe within her carefully controlled environment, while her projectiles launched at Agatha are her last stand defence mechanism against the literal and figurative demons plaguing her every move. Try as we might to avoid confronting our worst moments, such moments are frequently those that empower us to be greater; in Wanda’s case, becoming the Scarlet Witch was merely the natural next and final step in dealing with her grief – acceptance.
Her transformation into the all-powerful sorceress is one of the more memorable MCU moments in recent years, right up there with Cap wielding Mjolnir in Avengers: Endgame. We saw a glimpse of it last week in the Mind Stone, but seeing Wanda don the legendary outfit after explaining she’d picked up a few witchy tricks from Agatha was brilliantly executed. Her new outfit, a clear upgrade on the red leather jacket from yesteryear, harkens back to the iconic Scarlet Witch outfit from the comics (a similar look to her Halloween costume from several weeks back) with a very up to date, MCU-appropriate darker aesthetic. The excitement – and some genuine fear – of what this means for Wanda moving forward is one of the more intriguing cliffs onto which we’re left hanging by the series’ end.
Vision has a similar bout against an identically powered villain as he squares off against the SWORD reincarnated White Vision. It’s less grounded in emotion than Wanda’s fight but a more enjoyable visual spectacle. Two Supermen fighting through the air could be a stale endeavour (there’s only so much punching and throwing into stuff one can handle), but the very clever phasing in and out of each other was a joy to behold, trapping one arm inside another and avoiding contact by becoming invisible made for some excellently choreographed action. Their existential tête-à-tête in the library, in which Vision provides White Vision with his memories, may end their titanic duel on something of a quieter note, but it leaves the door open for Vision to return later.
Vision, of course, was doomed from the beginning. It becomes clear that Wanda has understood this for some time but unwilling to face that reality, so when the time comes to say goodbye, WandaVision delivers one of its best and most poignant scenes. As good as last week’s grief conversation was, this week’s tearful goodbye between our doomed lovers is as touching a scene as the MCU has ever had. Vision grounded Wanda in something resembling normality for so long and letting him go is Wanda losing her final and most powerful defence mechanism. As they have done throughout the series, Olsen and Bettany knock this scene out of the park and left me emotionally destroyed by the ending of a relationship between a magical being and her favourite computer man.
This is what WandaVision has been about all along. It covered a lot of it with the clever smoke and mirrors and fun teases to other MCU products, but it always was about Wanda and Vision. It’s no surprise that the moments between Olsen and Bettany and their delightful chemistry has been so many fans’ favourite moments. They delivered genuinely heartfelt moments throughout and made us care for these two characters, much to the surprise of many. Wanda and Vision, before this series, were never on the level of Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor, but in a post-WandaVision world, it stands to reason that they may have shot up everyone’s personal superhero leader board.
So, what about all those clever smoke and mirrors? The WandaVision creative team threw a lot of content at us over eight weeks, and while the Wanda and Vision of it all was the focal point, it was hard not to get caught up in the discourse around what this could all mean. If I had one major gripe about the finale, it was the climax of the Pietro storyline. Pietro not being Quicksilver in anyway, and just being some random guy under Agatha’s control, feels remarkably cynical from Marvel. Casting Evan Peters in that specific role excited so many for the possibilities it suggests, however learning that casting was purely stunt casting doesn’t sit right under greater scrutiny. With the knowledge that the MCU is entering the Multiverse soon with 2022’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, this specific version of Pietro could have been an exciting tease for the future and tie the X-Men universe into this one – something MCU overlord Kevin Feige has openly talked about – so it can’t help but feel like a missed opportunity.
“The Series Finale” did see a welcome return for Monica Rambeau, though her relegation to a bit part role after such a strong introduction to the series may leave you wanting more. Her accidental powers only serve a purpose when they’re relevant to the plot, but her place in this story becomes merely a set up for a future film after the post-credits scene that links directly to the upcoming Captain Marvel 2.
Herein lies the, quote unquote, problem with WandaVision in the grand designs of the cinematic universe. As enjoyable and heartfelt Wanda’s journey was, its multiple endings in the finale turn the series into something of a steppingstone into the films’ bigger and better things. Marvel is always setting up the next thing, and though Wanda’s involvement in Doctor Strange 2 is sure to be amplified having watched this series, it was written in such a way that means it’s not entirely necessary to have watched it. As a complete Marvel shill, I’m fine with it, but it does leave WandaVision feeling like a chapter or two in the Marvel novel than a story of its own.
This shouldn’t take away from how much fun the WandaVision journey has been over the last two months. What started as a passing curiosity turned into a bonafide obsession. We’ve been counting the days between episodes, waking up extra early on the morning of, avoiding Twitter like our lives depended on it, and dove into every theory video on YouTube possible. WandaVision delivers quality in spades episode after episode, developing from a surprisingly effective sitcom homage to one of the MCU’s most interesting tales to date, giving secondary characters their time in the spotlight and turning them into superstars in the process, anchored entirely by brilliant performances from Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany.
WandaVision, it’s been a pleasure. I’m sure we’ll say hello again.