This article contains spoilers for Disney+ TV miniseries WandaVision.
How do you cope with the feeling of loss? Do you binge eat, cry yourself to sleep, or do you build a fantasy world to seek refuge in?
Disney+’s Science Fiction TV miniseries, WandaVision, pretty much captures this kind of condition. Wanda Maximoff, the Marvel superhero from the recent TV series, has built a magical bubble to host her fantasy world, where she can “revive” her dead lover and give the world they both planned a chance to thrive.
Just like Wanda, however small it may be, we wish to have the power to shield ourselves from the ailments of the world. Science fiction allows us to live in our fantasy that we have the superpower to pursue something bigger than ourselves, even if it’s just for a moment. Nevertheless, we are mere mortals with mortal capabilities.
Suspension of Disbelief
“It’s not the changes that will break your heart; it’s the tug of familiarity.” — Jennifer E. Smith. The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight.
Albeit not science fiction, this quote summarises the impact the genre has on its audience. The suspension of disbelief upheld for us to feel what these science fiction characters truly feel allows us to get out of our head and sink deeper into our feelings. We suspend logic and critical thinking to examine this surreal fictional work and truly use our emotions to feel and believe it all.
As mortals, ailments are inevitable. The changing of times has brought many sickness and health unto ourselves and everyone around us, but sometimes we feel like not even time can help us heal from worldly ailments. Science fiction gives us the time and space to transcend towards the necessary suspension of disbelief, and only then do we move forward towards the resumption of hope.
The Fictional Remedy
As we grow older and experience more life, the more distant we are to any concrete form of safety net. Science fiction has knitted the gap between fantasy and reality and uses that web to catch us from falling through the cracks. The web has always meant to be a temporary thing, but it gives us the necessary time and space to collect ourselves through the rubbles, even if it’s only for only a moment.
The fantasy world Wanda made, dubbed as The Hex in the series, is as fictional to her as it is for us—yet both her and us as the audience are so gravitated towards the lies and fantasy we created ourselves. As the gap between fantasy and reality blurs, we begin to question our motive and position that puts us there in the first place. We seek remedies for the pain we feel even if it’ll lead us back to our destructive ways. Grief makes you believe and do crazy things, but we know we’d do it over and over again if we had been given a chance and the power to do it.
These memories of Wanda’s lover is all she has. Wanda combined grief, hope, love and fear, then created a world where she can fight the battle against forgetting him and move their lives together with time.
“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?” — Vision. WandaVision.
To empathise with a science fiction heartbreak is to feel feelings that are out of this world. We suspend our disbelief in the fallacies of science fiction for the brief moment of assurance that at least Wanda gets the closure we can only dream of. This gives us affirmation that, one day, we will be hopeful again and that the weight of living will become more bearable again. However, the resumption of hope can only come when the reason for its suspension has been addressed.
Science Fiction as Coping Mechanism
Science fiction has become most people’s form of escapism. It is meant to give the audience the necessary space between what happened and what is wished that could have happened. Wanda manifests us how to confront the feeling of loss and shows that not even a fantasy world we built ourselves could contain the pain of separation we hold near and dear to us. Just like the Myth of Sisyphus, humans know they will pick themselves up and try again. What hurts is It’s just the time gap between the loss and the trying-again, which is where Wanda is right now.
Editor: Ruthana Bitia, Tahtia Sazwara
Illustration by “WandaVision” Disney+ TV Miniseries