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Envisioning Grief Through Marvel's Lens

The recent digital release of the hit Marvel movie “Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness” reignited my admiration for one of the most powerful super-powered female characters to be portrayed in modern media. The character I am of course referencing here is Elizabeth Olsen’s portrayal of Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch. Her physical prowess proves to be unmatched in theory, but is rivaled by her own mental struggles that are initially her own demise. We witness an ongoing journey towards healing with her character that spans across past, and ongoing Marvel projects for years, each installment adding to the already heavy toll of tragedy she must endure, and process. By depicting her mental health in such a vibrant way for a broad audience to see, it gives fans an outlet to admire her journey as well as relate to it. Fans can perhaps share experiences within that community that they otherwise would not feel comfortable doing.

An Ongoing Battle

It has been over a year since Marvel made their Disney+ Original Television series debut with Wandavision, a miniseries directed by Matt Shakman that notably took over the internet with its bold performances and underlying themes. Wanda Maximoff is a character whose presence in the MCU was often driven by her immense physical capabilities, and powers that could shape the future of the franchise as we once knew it to be. While her powers were constantly being explored, this left fans curious to learn more about her heavily tragic past in depth to better understand what drove her actions and motives. The conclusion of the Infinity Saga left us with a character that was heavily traumatized by the immense amount of loss she had faced in her life, the latest one being that of Vision, her one true love. Our journey begins with denial, and the physical manifestation of Wanda’s safe mental haven takes form in the “gloriously carefree world” of decade-old sitcoms beginning in the 1950s with the first episode. We later learn that sitcoms provided Wanda with a strong feeling of safety in which no matter what scary “shenanigans” the comedic characters endured, it would all turn out alright in the end. This sense of reassurance and familiarity was something that Wanda would later wish she could fall back on once her harsh reality constantly ripped that dream away.

In the wreckage of shattered dreams, we find Wanda angry and desperate to keep her wishes a reality. The anger takes form in uncharacteristic acts of violence and hatred toward anyone that dared to get in the way of her retrieving what she desired. At the end of the day, Wanda’s yearning to chase after the love her reality robbed her of, drove her to the edge, and quite literally into a spiraling fit of darkness as well. She became disconnected from her former identity as a hero and a generally good person entirely.

Power In Vulnerability

As we learn from this show, the journey to processing grief is most commonly accomplished through multiple stages over a vast period of time. It is a universal experience that grounds the most outward-appearing powerful figures because it is a regular human emotion. In this case, the character of Wanda Maximoff’s comic book origin has always been centered around that one strong emotion that became a catalyst for some of her most catastrophic actions. Her capabilities are constantly reiterated throughout the franchise, and with that also comes the strong bond that they have with her feelings.

On a less super-powered note, it is common knowledge that the same bond between actions and feelings stands true for us as the viewers as well. Watching such a powerfully established character become more and more emotionally unguarded not only across the span of Wandavision, but also her entire MCU presence, so far shows that there is a sense of vulnerability in growth. Characters such as her whose emotional journeys are portrayed in a way that is relatable, and yet of course elevated in a way that is unique to the individual’s stories, and experiences, are always celebrated. These characters are often favored by receiving audiences. With this in mind, it is no surprise that fans, including myself, are eagerly awaiting Wanda’s next on-screen return to accompany her along the journey toward accepting her past as being an essential part of her, while being able to move forward. With my strong interest in film and television I have started to stand by this one phrase: if we can learn to express empathy, understand, and forgive our beloved fictional characters, then surely we can apply those same feelings towards those around us, and most importantly ourselves as well.

Indulging In Fantasy

In closing this reflection, it comes as no surprise that I have a passion for relating my favorite forms of entertainment media to serious topics. I have begun to do so not only to hopefully educate an audience but to also better understand these themes myself, and ultimately continue my own self-growth journey. This article in particular allowed me to accomplish exactly that with one of my favorite franchises, Marvel. Recently I had the opportunity to indulge in that passion wholeheartedly and rave about one of my favorite Marvel Disney+ shows titled "Hawkeye" in an article on If you would like to read more about my praises surrounding the series, overall opinions, as well as thoughts from other fans then you can easily do so by checking out their article titled "10 Best Marvel Shows (& What Fans Think)." Now more than ever is an exciting time to engage in the Marvel franchise as more, and more of us see ourselves finally being represented in ways that are both super-powered, and simply human.


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