WandaVision: a portrayal of grief and mental health issues.

Monday, March 01

By Maria Alejandra Gutiérrez Posada

CONTENT WARNING: mentions of grief and mental health issues. This article contains light spoilers.

Marvel's Disney+ TV shows are off to great start: WandaVision is one of the most popular television series as of now. A combination of an incredible storyline and the expectation of having to wait a whole week for a new episode (just like old times) has been the perfect formula to keep the viewers on the edge of their seats as they watch how the life at Westview has been developing.

However, the sitcom's latest episode has received a mixed reaction among fans: while most have been truly captured by the raw display of emotion Elizabeth Olsen's character brought to the screen, other people didn't understand the need, the purpose, to air this “filler” episode.

I, for starters, believe this episode was not only necessary for the plot of the show but also as proof that the media can, and should, start allowing their characters to explore the ups and downs of human emotions, even though sometimes it seems more convenient to just skip that in order to move the story along.

This tends to be the case in a lot of Marvel films, where grief is often put aside in order to deliver a great fight scene. While this isn't necessarily wrong, it does tend to have a, mostly hidden, side effect: the dehumanization of emotional vulnerability. Even though this superhero cinematic universe does have emotional scenes (some of them really heartbreaking) it isn't often that it is showed the impact that they have later on, the exception being Iron Man 3 and Avengers: Endgame. But even in Endgame, trauma was used as a comic relief, specifically in Thor's case, leading to, once again, the lack of depth and understanding the character's feelings.

So, in my personal opinion, WandaVision is the first attempt Marvel has made to deeply represent the layers of the human experience and the incidence of pain and loss within its dynamics. We've watched as Wanda Maximoff has ventured through the stages of grief on her own, while, at the same time, doing everything within her power to avoid having to face it. For that reason, this last episode is a way to show the experiences, the suffering, that led Wanda to creating her own reality, where she could just escape the grasp pain had in her life. But, honestly, did it really work?

Whether it worked or not (something that remains to be answered in the last episode) we still got to see the more human, relatable even, side of this superhero personas, proving that vulnerability shouldn't be just portrayed as weakness.

Hopefully, we will get to see wider spectrum of emotion in the content to come, not only on Marvel films but in most of the genres the media offers, so we don't feel detached from our own struggles or perceive that there just isn't enough representation of them on the content we consume.

 

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