The Marvel Universe is known for its incredible special effects, the array of loveable and detestable characters, and killer soundtracks. Marvel once more ticked every box with WandaVision. But it’s their focus on mental health that sets it apart from many of the others. In a world of superheroes, the director Matt Shakman manages to bring mental health to the fore and show the importance of sharing our anxieties. Spoilers ahead!
Trigger warning: Discussion of mental health, anxiety and grief.
As an obsessed Marvel fan, there were hundreds of moments I loved when watching WandaVision. It goes without saying that Agatha revealing she was a purple witch was more exciting and shocking than any iconic reveal on Drag Race. However, the scene with Vision comforting Wanda after the death of her brother has stuck with me. The conversation acts as an exemplar way of communicating about grief and mental health. It is a conversation that is never easy to have.
As human beings, sadness can come almost too naturally, but the conversation about it never does. Wanda attempts to explain the unexplainable feeling many suffer from. While she is grieving the death of a loved one, her description resonates with anyone who has struggled to articulate these thoughts. She describes it as “just like this wave washing over me, again and again. It knocks me down, and when I try to stand up, it just comes for me again. And I can’t. It is just going to drown me”.
The power of conversation
This force seems relentless and brutal until Vision comes along, sits next to her and speaks. He calms the waves and takes some of that pain away. This conversation is followed by Wanda laughing at the TV show which is on in the room, indicating a positive shift inside her after sharing her grief. This shows the importance of seeking help when you are feeling low, as well as indicating how it doesn’t take much to help someone who needs it. Often, being there to just listen is the best support a person can provide.
As someone who has recently lost a relative, the words “but what is grief if not love persevering?” really served as a comfort. Vision takes away some of the sadness and replaces it with the warmth of memories, as she must have had something wonderful to feel such grief. As he says, “it can’t all be sorrow, can it?”.
While this conversation is a pivotal moment for Wanda, we see her battle with her mental health throughout the show. Most notably through the creation of a whole town to avoid accepting her grief. Through this, mental health is normalised and shows that even those who appear strong can be suffering.
girl, it’s been months but i’m still not over with #WandaVision “what is grief, if not love persevering?” line. it still breaks my poor heart. 🥺💔
— Al. (@Alevanescenes) June 13, 2021
The impact of mental health
At a time when we have been deprived of conversation and human interaction, it is no surprise that people’s mental health has suffered, and people have felt neglected. The Health Foundation has stated that “mental health has worsened substantially (by 8.1% on average) as a result of the pandemic”. This is due to forced social isolation, a loss of jobs, experiencing great loss, and having very minimal access to mental health support. These are just a few reasons among a sea of others.
The charity Mind has reported that “1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem of some kind each year in England”. It is clear that we must continue raising awareness and offer help to those who need it whenever we can. For anyone seeking a Marvel show to soothe their anxiety, let Vision be your slightly unconventional therapist.
WandaVision is available to watch on Disney+.