Monday, March 8, 2021

Agony, Misery, and Identity in WandaVision

Warning: spoilers contained for WandaVision.
For the past year and a half or so, I have struggled with my own identity. I've had a lot of turmoil and grief in my life, and at 43 years old, I'm just now starting to grapple with who I am. It's not an easy road, and it never is for anybody who is trying to figure out where they fit in the world. Trying to juggle all the parts of your identity (like your job, family, spirituality, social connections, values, and self worth) can be painful at times. 

After the first few episodes of the excellent WandaVision, we saw a show that was about something incredible, but it was hard to identify exactly what direction the story was taking us. But now that the entire season is complete, it's clear that WandaVision is about one thing: a woman dealing with grief and pain, and trying to figure out who she is, and how she fits in the world. I relate to Wanda's agony. She has lost so much, she is figuring out how to relate to society, and she just wants to live the impossibly simple life depicted in her childhood sitcoms. 

Identity has always been a question in the MCU. From the get-go in Iron Man, Tony bucks the system and announces that "I am Iron Man" (cue Black Sabbath). Steve asks Tony, "Take away that suit of armor and what are you?" Peter tells Tony, "I'm nothing without the suit." And Tony comes full circle, in his ultimate sacrifice, and counters Thanos's "I am inevitable" with "I am Iron Man". Heck, even that tree guy has been known to say "I am Groot" every once in awhile. 

But this question of identity is never brought more to the forefront than in WandaVision. Vision asks "What AM I?" and then summarizes beautifully, "I have been a voice with no body. A body, but not human. And now a memory made real. Who knows what I might be next?" The two Visions debate the Ship of Theseus thought experiment. And Vision ultimately concludes that “Perhaps the rot is the memories. The wear and tear of the voyages. The wood touched by Theseus himself.”

This ultimately mirrors the identity crisis that Wanda has. She rejects that she is grieving. She rejects things that go wonky in her world. She rejects that she is a witch at all. But, but, but ... but when Wanda finally accepts who she is, finally embraces her power, finally admits to her grief and pain and trauma, that's when the real healing begins. Afterall, Wanda couldn't really move forward until she was allowed to process her misery and loss. And that is why it was so powerful when Wanda finally becomes the Scarlet Witch and says, "I don't need you to tell me who I am." We see her journey, we have experienced her mourning and her loss, we know what she has been through. 

Listening to Double Vision go through an identity crisis helps me frame my own "who am I?" question. Watching Wanda deal with her sorrow helps me deal with my own. I know nobody can tell me who I am or what I can become. Nobody can overcome my pain and grief for me. After all, what is grief, if not love persevering? It's the rot of my life that makes me who I am: the hardships and the sludge and the rotted wood that turns me into the man I am becoming. Every step I take to embrace my own heartache, I am one step closer to loving myself, to embracing my true power, and to know who I really am. 

And then I can finally say, "Okie dokie artichokie!"

No comments:

Post a Comment