WandaVision: Who was the real supervillain of the series?

Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021 All Rights Reserved.
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios’ WandaVision. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021 All Rights Reserved. /

While WandaVision seemed to have its share of bad guys, the real villain is the one fans have been cheering on since the beginning.

For all the times the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been accused of playing it safe, WandaVision isn’t what you’d call a traditional superhero TV show. There are times it doesn’t even fit the patterns of what we expect in a series about people with super powers and abilities. It starts off as an affectionate parody of television sitcoms, with an X-Files style government conspiracy, a Lost-style mystery, and literal witches. It’s also a series that blurs the line between what is a hero and what is a villain. If anything, the star of this Disney+ series would be considered the bad guy in any other television series.

Yes, you understood that correctly. Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) isn’t the hero of WandaVision; she’s the villain.

WandaVision’s real villain was Wanda all along

if Wanda [Maximoff]  is truly sorry for what she’s done as she says, the least she can do is offer to turn herself in… instead of flying away in her cool new Scarlet Witch costume.

As controversial as this may seem for fans of the show (and yours truly is one of them) to accept or believe, just look at what we saw in regards to Wanda over the past nine episodes. This is a person who kidnapped an entire town, brainwashed its residents, held them against their will, forced them to re-enact remakes of TV comedies from her childhood, made children experience her own childhood trauma -all because she couldn’t handle the fact that Vision (Paul Bettany) died in Avengers: Infinity War (2018). By any objective measure, Wanda is a supervillain based on her actions alone.

And yet “The Series Finale” appears to go out of its way to downplay this uncomfortable truth. We’re told that Wanda wasn’t in complete control of her actions, except for all the times that she is. The residents of Westview are understandably angry and fearful of her once they’re freed of her spell. Yet the way the scene of her leaving through town is shot and composed, as she hides her face under her hoodie while the townspeople glare at her, it makes it seem as if she’s the victim. And if Wanda is truly sorry for what she’s done as she says, the least she can do is offer to turn herself in to Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) instead of fly away in her cool new Scarlet Witch costume.

Moreover, when Wanda does lower the Hex, it’s because Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) ironically points out to her that “Heroes don’t let people suffer.” But what happens when Wanda sees Vision, Billy (Julian Hillard), and Tommy (Jett Klyne) – all of whom are confirmed to be literal fantasies brought to life via her Chaos Magic -start disintegrating as the Hex disappears? She puts the Hex right back up. And before you say, “She didn’t want to kill her family,” doesn’t she do that very thing by the end of the episode?

The other villains of WandaVision

As for WandaVision’s supposed villains, they’re not as nefarious as they seem. While Agatha does want to absorb Wanda’s Chaos Magic for herself, it’s not solely because she’s power-hungry. Rather, it’s because she rightfully views Wanda as “dangerous,” someone who cannot control their own magic, and who also, according to the book of black magic known as the Darkhold, will one day destroy the world. Not to say Agatha is any sort of saint (she still killed Sparky after all), but she’s also trying to stop a potential Apocalypse. Nor does she set out to actually kill Wanda, saying she can keep her “pathetic” fantasy world in exchange for her power.

Then there’s acting director of S.W.O.R.D. Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg). Make no mistake, the man is a textbook jerk. He also definitely goaded Wanda into trying to bring Vision back to life with her Chaos Magic. But he sure didn’t goad her into abducting all of Westview; that’s all on Wanda. And while he is guilty of framing Wanda for stealing Vision’s body and bringing the real Vision back online in violation of the Sovokia Accords, he can also make the case that he did this in the name of National Security and protecting the United States from a “clear and present danger.” Keep in mind, too, that this series takes place shortly after the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), when the world is just beginning to recover from Thanos’ snapping away half the population, as Hayward himself explained in an earlier episode. Doesn’t bringing Vision back make sense in that regard?

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Note, too, that he reprogramed Vision to eliminate Wanda (and, by extension, the false Vision), not destroy all of Westview like Monica had been fearing. Hayward shooting at Wanda’s kids is indeed shocking, horrific, and ultimately very, very stupid (seriously, anyone that trigger happy shouldn’t be carrying any sort of weapon, much less be in any position of authority) and he is certainly not good guy, but he’s also not the cardboard bad guy that the show wants him to be, either (at least he wasn’t until that moment).

So then why do we label Agatha and Hayward as villains and Wanda as the hero? It’s because we’ve seen WandaVision through Wanda’s eyes along with those who feel empathy for her. We, like Monica, believe that if we were in Wanda’s place, we’d also do pretty much anything to try and bring our loved ones back. We, like the fake Vision, would offer her forgiveness and tell her it’s all right to let him and their children go. And we, like Darcy (Kat Dennings) would find ourselves rooting for Wanda and Vision to be together, even though we also know it’s not possible. All because Wanda is the protagonist, the “star of the show.”

Only being a protagonist doesn’t always equal being a hero. Literature and film are full of villain protagonists like Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights and Walter White of Breaking Bad. They serve to remind us what complex creatures we human beings really are, that we are capable of evil, selfishness, and cruelty as much as we are good, generosity, and kindness. But just because we understand them does not mean we should condone them. Feeling pity isn’t the same thing as supporting what a person does, even if they are fictional.

Wanda Maximoff is no different. Over the course of WandaVision, we see her intentions are good while also causing tremendous harm. She is blinded by her own suffering that she cannot see the suffering she herself is causing. She is not a superhero. And that has made her all the more fascinating and compelling of a character.

All episodes of WandaVision are now available on Disney+.

Next. WandaVision season 1, episode 9 review: The Series Finale. dark

Did you enjoy WandaVision? What do you think of how Wanda was portrayed? Let us know in the comments below!