The magnificent WandaVision finale to the series on Disney+ is the most profound thing yet from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Haven’t given up WandaVision for Lent, and I am not sad about that. Thursday morning, the WandaVision finale dropped. What a remarkable conclusion to such a rich, fantastic show, indeed the most profound production from the Marvel Cinematic Universe thus far. Be forewarned, true believers—spoilers are ahead! So back out now before proceeding with this video, and come back after you watch it—final warning.
The WandaVision Finale & Letting Go
Whether we are talking about the WandaVision finale or life in general, how true it is what Buddha said—
The world is full of suffering.
The root of suffering is attachment-desire.
The uprooting of suffering means the dropping of attachments
[anything outside of us we wrongly believe on which our happiness depends].
It is very accurate of human life. It is also very true of the WandaVision finale, its entire season, and its protagonist, the uncanny Wanda Maximoff.
For Wanda to be who she truly is—the Scarlet Witch—she must awaken. The problem is that neither Wanda nor any of us mere mortals want to do that:
- We don’t even know that we are sleeping!
- We don’t want to know that.
- Even if we do know it, we’d rather not.
We’d instead go on with what is familiar, even if it turns out to be a nightmare.
WandaVision Finale: Waking Up is Hard
Ask any psychologist, and they will tell you that hurt people, despite their words, don’t really want cures. Instead, we want aspirin and morphine. And we are all of us dying and in pain, fellow dying inmates. We desire painkillers—therapies are just too unbearable.
You know, we are just like Wanda. We act very much like her in all these episodes before the WandaVision finale. Throughout this magnificent series, Wanda found many ways to fool herself and keep dreaming through life. Don’t we do the same, fellow dying addicts? Aren’t we very clever at staying asleep? Indeed, we cultivate people as means to enable our addictive dreamworlds.
And in the Church, we often cake this nonsense over with verbal orthodoxy and reaction formation. The Hex in WandaVision reminds me of many ministries and so-called “spiritual activities” in our wealthy, posh, well-dressed U.S. parishes. I am sure in Westview, parish life went on without a snag, daily communicants doing their regular routine.
WandaVision Finale & Playacting Church
Are there authentic spirituality and ministry workings afoot? If so, people are getting disturbed. And they’ll be head-nodding way less than what I see everywhere among U.S. Catholics the past twenty years. This is because of the real Gospel challenges. The genuine Spirit rejects counterfeits that keep us snoring.
Unfortunately, what goes for Christian activities these days is, like Westview, an escape from reality. How often religion becomes a Westview, a domain full of illusions, enablers, mind-controlled fakes, drugs, and painkillers, keeping us dead asleep. Maybe we need amputations? Then something new can happen.
WandaVision Finale & True Love
Love creates the beloved. That is literally true with Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch foretold in the Darkhold book of spells. But love does not control. It lets people think their thoughts, be themselves, and it let’s go. It does not force the other to provide happiness. Love doesn’t escape from or eliminate death—it faces reality, and it sees things as they are, rather than what it wants to be. Love perseveres through death.
“I love you” should never be linked to “I want your love.” Lovers are not lovers who aren’t free. Love never demands the return of love. I might expect you to love me in return, and that’s fine, but real love does not depend on the return of love. Is love a bribe? Is love a conditional arrangement? No! Therefore, the Hexed Westview, as imagined by grieving Wanda, must come to an end.
Nostalgia and the past can chain us, cripple us. The key that unlocks that chain is “goodbye.” Otherwise, we cannot be. That which we are truly meant to be cannot be born.
Help Me, Wanda!
For most of the nine episodes of WandaVision, Wanda has been sleepwalking through life, hiding from the incredible pain no human being should ever have to suffer, escaping. She’s been dreaming life away. But in the WandaVision finale, she’s awake, at great personal cost.
One of the reasons that I won’t hesitate to call WandaVision a spiritual show is that it is about waking up. What does spirituality mean if not waking up? What is the value in anything claiming to be spiritual or Christian that is disconnected from reality (Cf. Mark 1:15; Matthew 3:2; 4:17; Isaiah 60:1; Ephesians 5:11-14)?
That which is truly spiritual brings peace, but not the peace of unawareness in slumbering dreams. Many Catholics and other Christians today are blissfully unaware that they are asleep. Like Father Tony de Mello says, “They’re born asleep, they live asleep, they marry in their sleep, they breed children in their sleep, they die in their sleep without ever waking up. And they go to Church asleep, too.” But the real Good News, the authentic spirituality, is about waking up (see John 5:25, 28; 8:51; 11:25-26; Revelation 3:1-3).
WandaVision Finale Does Not Cheat Wanda
WandaVision does give us a satisfying conclusion to a fantastic series. Instead of miring itself in fanboy/fangirl service providing eye-candy of cameos and wtf moments, WandaVision remains true to Wanda’s story. Had Reed Richards or Doctor Strange arrived, it would have significantly detracted from Wanda’s healing and sacrifice. Wanda is no damsel-in-distress. She is a superhero, and she needed to resolve this in her yes.
The second after-credits scene takes place far away by a crystal lake at the bottom of a picturesque mountain (could this be Mount Wundagore?). The vibes turn quickly from Bob Ross to Sam Raimi. We enter a cabin occupied by Wanda Maximoff drinking coffee. But in the other room, the Scarlet Witch’s spectral image levitates scrutinizing the Darkhold, casting spells. We hear the terrified cries of her children, Billy and Tommy. What is this craziness about?
This is a big homage to Sam Raimi’s beloved “Evil Dead” movies, by the way. This can be seen clearly with the familiar cabin, ghostly cries, incantations, and the forbidden evil spellbook.
It also creatively winks at fans that Wanda’s story will pick up next in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” Marvel’s first horror film, helmed by Raimi. This is being filmed right now. Make mine Marvel, baby!