[Accessing] Hello! I’m Anika AKA Pixie and you are listening to the Endless Anakin Playlist Podcast, in which I use popular music as a frame to discuss anything and everything Star Wars and Star Wars adjacent.
This episode is inspired by the song “Shake It Out” by Florence and the Machine.
Today I’m joined by my friend Heather to talk about the Scarlet Witch. There will be spoilers through the first season of WandaVision, including post-credits scenes, as well as Avengers: Endgame and speculation of the Doctor Strange sequel currently filming.
Anika: Welcome, Heather, you have the honor of being my first ever guest. So thank you for coming on…
Heather: Thank you so much.
Anika: I’m very excited for this conversation.
Heather: Yes, me, too.
Anika: So before we get into it, I have one quick question: who is your favorite Star Wars character?
Heather: Hands down, it’s Leia. Leia has been the one…she’s inspired me throughout the years. Like especially as a young girl watching her on screen in the original trilogy. And, um, I was so excited to see her come back in the newer movies and she’s still an inspiration as a general rather than a princess. So yeah, definitely Leia.
Anika: All right. Now we have Star Wars out of the way…let’s get into WandaVision! It’s related, I swear! But what kind of Marvel fan would you say you are?
Heather: I’m definitely…I consider myself a fan of the MCU, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I love all of the characters, but I’ve never been a huge comic book person? Due to some of my own limitations I struggle when it comes to reading comic books. They give me a headache because there’s just too much going on on the page. But I love the characters so watching them visually on TV is definitely where my Marvel fandom comes from. But I love it all.
Anika: I was a comic book fan for a long time. But I haven’t read any comics for at least five years, if not more. It became a space where I didn’t feel welcome anymore.
Anika: So I left! But my love of Wanda Maximoff goes back decades. And my first gmail email account was ‘magnetosdaughter’ and I still have it. Like, it’s still one of my use every day email accounts.
Anika: I roleplayed her on LiveJournal. I wrote lots of really strange fanfiction that like, I went back to see if I could re-edit it and post it now that she’s super popular again and I was like, yeah no one who wasn’t there for the beginning of this would understand any of it. So that’s a no. Because I love Wanda so much, even in stories like… her comics are not great for her.
Anika: They’re a lot better for the people around her. It’s like ‘here’s a Wanda story that is centered on Magneto!’ or Pietro or Captain America. It’s like, okay…I thought it was supposed to be about Wanda. And it just never is.
Anika: So, that’s my favorite part of WandaVision. Is that no one steals her spotlight. She’s the main protagonist and even Vision is secondary.
Heather: Oh, I completely agree with that. I mean, I think, especially in her story in the MCU so far never really focused around her. She’s always been in
Heather: Relative to uh, Cap, or Vision, or someone else, or or Stark or whatever else is going on. So this is the first time we got to know her and the story centered around her, and that’s what really made me
Heather: Enjoy the show a lot. ‘Cause I appreciate Wanda as a character a lot more after watching the show, than I did beforehand.
Anika: I think that’s sort of… The series is wildly popular and I think that a lot of people… Like I think this came at a really good time, with the whole awful global pandemic we’re all stuck in.
Heather: Oh yes.
Anika: This character is really good to address those issues and those themes. Even if that wasn’t, I mean, obviously that wasn’t the purpose of WandaVision. But it ended up really striking a chord with people. We’re all going through collective trauma and grief and dealing with loss on both a global and an individual scale. And that’s also what Wanda’s doing.
Heather: Yeah. I mean it’s definitely been crazy watching some of the, the new television product that has come out of this pandemic because nobody planned for this. Like, it’s all stuff that has been planned out, written, filmed, before any of the events of 2020 happened. But it’s really connecting to people in a more stronger way because of what has happened over the past year, uh, than I think it would have otherwise. Yeah, Wanda’s story and journey and, uh, processing her grief and how she dealt with it throughout these nine episodes, um, is something that more people can relate to now than they probably could have a year ago.
Anika: I think that there are a few different themes that we’ve already touched upon somewhat., the trauma and the grief and recovery. Are there additional things that you think… that you’d like to bring up?
Heather: I think one of the main themes of this story is the concept of power and knowledge. And how knowledge is essential to the proper use of power. Because Wanda has so much power but she doesn’t really have the knowledge of how to use it properly, which is how she ended up in a situation where, uh, her emotions took over. And in processing her grief she hurt so many other people… because she thought she was doing something and taking them along with her on this journey and finding peace but in reality she was actually pouring her, her, her grief and her pain into them, too. So I think there’s another story there about how knowledge is needed to help balance the amount of power. Because, I mean you see especially in that finale where she learns very quickly. I mean, Agatha shows her the basic concept of the runes, and how the witch that cast the runes can only use their magic in that space. And she takes that and uses it against Agnes in that final battle. It really goes to show where their knowledge has to combine with that power in order to be successful.
Anika: She had an innate power that she was born with, we’re shown.
Anika: And then it was enhanced by her experiences with the stones. All of her tricks, I guess, were something that she would think of and then she would do it. And, that, that’s what chaos magic is. But it’s called chaos for a reason.
Heather: (laughs) Yes.
Anika: And you’re right that if you don’t have that understanding of what it is, and where it comes from, and how to wield it, it can do as much harm as good. So, I really like that Wanda’s, you know, big power move in the end is to say ‘so, I’m gonna go learn about all this magic I’ve got, see ya later.’
Anika: I’ve seen, you know, people saying that she— that there are no consequences for her actions and… I mean, first of all, I think that there are obvious consequences to her actions that she, that are on her, in that she lost her family and that she’s clearly feeling guilt in that final episode. And even in, in, you know, leading up to it. That she was not fully in control of what she was doing herself, either. Because she was stuck in that, you know, depression type of you know, place.
Heather: Yeah and I think, I think there are consequences that she really puts on herself. I mean, especially dealing with the guilt of what she’s done and what she’s done to all the people of the town.
Heather: I think that, in itself, is a large enough consequence and there doesn’t need, have to be any more larger—
Heather: Lawful consequences in this instance.
Anika: It’s a television series and in theory they would want another season. Or even if aren’t gonna ever do more WandaVision, Wanda’s story is far from over. Like this is the MCU, they’e literally been doing this for a decade. This is like Phase Four or something. The beginning of Phase Four. So there’s plenty of time for Wanda to atone for what’s happened here.
Heather: Yeah. And they’ve already announced that Wanda is basically going to be co-starring in the, uh, next Doctor Strange movie, which they’re filing right now. And for anyone who knows Doctor Strange, as the Sorcerer Supreme is like the magical law enforcement. So—
Heather: It brings up the idea that possibly, with her working with Doctor Strange there’s also going to be— not only her learning about her magic but some consequences as to the magical mistakes she’d made.
Anika: I look forward to that.
Heather: Me too.
Anika: So do you have a favorite episode or genre, I guess, or… ‘cause that was another, you know, fun part of this show.
Heather: It really was. I mean, watching it go through the different decades like that. It didn’t quite hook me at first ‘cause I’m not a huge sitcom person so it wasn’t until they got into the eighties and nineties where I was like ‘oh, okay, I recognize what they’re doing here.’
Heather: Those would probably be my favorite genres, like the one sequence that they did that was reminiscent of Malcolm in the Middle was probably my favorite. Because they each had their opening things. I really liked—
Heather: —watching her with the twins. Because I think that was an important part of her healing. The episode where they get Sparky the dog and then Sparky dies after eating Agatha’s azaleas… when she talks to them about how to deal with grief, to not age themselves up and they have to actually sit there and process it, I mean, that, that’s her talking to herself. Because she’s going through the same exact thing. But she’s helping herself heal by sitting there and helping her sons understand it. So that was one of my favorite parts I think.
Anika: She’s, she’s helping herself— and also giving herself another focus, like something else to focus on other than her own grief and her own loss and her own needs. She’s saying, you know, no one… no one helped me and Pietro when we were this age.
Anika: We, we were being blow up and then like, decided to join the evil dark government. Like no one parented them. They parented themselves.
Anika: So this is like a second chance to not only parent her own children but also to parent herself. And I really like that sort of cyclical storytelling we get to do because of this crazy thing where these are magical babies.
Heather: Oh yeah, yeah, it’d definitely something that’s unique to the comic book sci fi genre. And so they did it really well with Wanda.
Anika: Something I really love about how the series progressed is that Wanda is never treated like she’s crazy or that she’s incapable of holding or wielding the amount of power she has. It’s— she has to learn how to use it and she has to understand it better. But she’s, she’s— the series treats her and Wanda herself treats herself like she is capable of doing it. And she’s the only one who ever, like she says ‘I’m feeling crazy’ and it’s like, yeah, of course you are because this is crazy. But no one is saying, you know, there’s something wrong with you. And you need to be fixed. And we’re going to take over decision making for you. Which is everything that happens in all of the Scarlet Witch comics, you know, way back to the beginning.
Anika: After Avengers Disassembled, the Avengers like, literally hold a vote to decide if they should kill her.
Heather: Oh my God.
Anika: You know, they choose not to.
Anika: But that is super dark. These are your friends and co-workers and family deciding that you are too dangerous to be kept around. In contrast, we get that amazing moment in the finale when she says “I don’t need you to tell me who I am”. That was so empowering and wonderful and it was just, she is taking full ownership of herself and her power. And then, like I said, she jets off to figure out how to do it without asking permission. Nobody comes to pick her up and take her away, to protect her. She’s going to protect herself. For someone who has been such a fan, and so connected to this character for so long, to see her having so much agency, it was really a revelation.
Heather: I completely agree. I mean, I know there were so many theories floating around the internet as to who was going to show up in the last episode. There was going to be some big Avengers character and I’m so happy that there wasn’t. It, it, it was really powerful. And like I said, the other times we’ve seen her character in the MCU she didn’t have that. So, to watch her go through this journey and then find that agency for herself and accept her power, accept what she is and who she is, and go off to go learn about it because she knows she needs to do that after this experience. It was really, really wonderful to watch. Let’s be honest here, Marvel doesn’t do the best with their women characters. I mean there are so many women characters who get torn down and treated a lot like that.
Heather: And I didn’t know that about the history of Wanda in the comics but I’m not surprised at you saying that. It doesn’t surprise me at all.
Heather: So I’m glad the MCU is finally evolving to the point where they’re letting these women be strong. And they’re letting them have their own agency without having to be controlled or impacted by another man. I love that and I hope it continues.
Anika: That brings us to, sort of, a million dollar question: was Wanda— was this the beginning of her villain arc? Or was it the end of her villain arc? She’s going to be in Doctor Strange and I’m a little bit scared she’s going to be the antagonist.
Heather: Yeah, that’s a good question. I hope this is not the beginning of her villain arc. Because I think that a lot of her journey through Westview here, and the different decades, is kind of a small villain arc on its own even though ultimately they have Agatha be the villain of the entire story. I don’t think she wants to be a villain. From her start with Hydra in Age of Ultron and like I said, also throughout what she did to the people of Westview, she’s always had a slight villainous tint to her character where she just uses her power indiscriminately and it does impact and hurt other people. But I like to think that her making the effort to go— know that she needs to go learn more about it, is the start of her becoming less villainous? I don’t want to see her as the antagonist in Doctor Strange. There’s a whole multitude of multiverses in which to pull villains from. That are larger and powerful and can be a lot more impactful. Watching a powerful witch and a powerful sorcerer team up, I would rather see that. Ultimately I don’t want to see— they took her on this journey of growth and I don’t want to see that going into a more villain area. She has the capacity to be a villain.
Heather: But it, it feels like it would just take her backwards instead of keep moving her forwards.
Anika: As you were talking about that, the word that came, that, you know, popped into my mind was responsibility. And to bring up a very famous Marvel quote “with great power comes great responsibility”. That’s how I read her going off to learn what all her power is and does, that’s her taking responsibility for it. Finally, really.
Anika: Because she, again, she just did everything by instinct before. You’re right that up until WandaVision, her time in the MCU was most like a tool for the story and for the Avengers.
Anika: She didn’t have agency and she didn’t have responsibility. And now she’s going to find it. And that’s a great story and I would hate for the result to be ‘and then she became a bad guy’.
Heather: Exactly! Exactly.
Anika: What are you hoping happens next? Or what would you like to see in Wanda’s future?
Heather: I mean I would like to see her learn more about her power, obviously, and become a… a force for… I’m not sure a force for good would be the right word but a force for… agency, for just like, standing up for herself and what she believes in. It’s one of things where especially as they mention the references about the Scarlet Witch, about how she’s supposed to be the one to destroy the world… Like, you can take negative connotations towards that but it, it doesn’t have to be negative. And I would really like Wanda to, as she learns more about her power, as she learns more how to use it, to understand that she’s just standing up for herself and that doesn’t have to be in a negative way.
Anika: Yeah, and then that is what she can put out into the world for other people as well. What about Vision?
Heather: She’s gonna find Vision again. I mean especially with the way they ended that arc with Vision giving White Vision his memories. It’s definitely going to be different, but I— I love how they ended between the two of them, where it was not really a goodbye, it was more like ‘I’ll see you again’. I don’t think it’s going to be anytime soon, I think it might be a little bit longer down the line.
Heather: But I think she’ll definitely find some version of Vision. Whatever version of Vision is in this world right now.
Anika: He’s at least 4.0 at this point.
Heather: But uh, yeah, she’ll find him again.
Anika: And Billy and Tommy?
Heather: That— you know honestly, when I first watched the episode I missed that final scene. Because I expected the mid-credits scene to happen and I didn’t stay and wait for that one.
Heather: But then I saw online, I went ‘oh God, there’s another one, okay, I have to watch it again.’ So, the multiverse is big and we’re gonna see Billy and Tommy again at some point. But that is one of those, like, I’m not quite certain and it depends on how they introduce the multiverse and how they’re gonna introduce the different universes. I’m not quite certain we’ll see the same version.
Heather: Of Billy and Tommy that we saw? But yeah, we’ll see them again at some point, too.
Anika: Billy and Tommy are founding members of the Young Avengers along with Cassie Lang, Scott Lang’s daughter. So as soon as they aged up Cassie in Endgame, I was like ‘[gasp] Young Avengers is happening!’ Like, I got very excited because that, it felt like a promise to me.
Anika: That we were gonna get that team. I cannot describe how excited I am for the team of teen Avengers causing chaos.
Heather: The Marvel, especially the Marvel movies are designed to get kids involved and interested, too, but there’s some tones and themes like the end of Infinity War, which made me hurt for like a week after watching it, that I wouldn’t want any—
Heather: kid under the age of ten to watch. So that’s where something like the Young Avengers would be, would be good to have, you know, so our poor children of the world are not in as much pain.
Anika: Yes. It’s a lot, it’s a lot. Even when it’s reversed, you know, we get poor Wanda and poor Vision. Marvel’s sad. It’s a lot of sad.
Heather: Yeah, like, even in that scene in Endgame where everyone comes back and they’re all battling together, I mean you can even see Wanda’s pain. Because even though she’s back from being dusted, in that scene, in the small glimpses of her interacting with the other villains that she’s fight you can see how much pain she, she is in and her anger and her grief right there, so. It’s a lot.
Anika: You know, they’re still wildly successful so I think they’re gonna keep going for a long time and uh, we’ll, we’ll see what happens. I have one last question. Because this is the conceit of my show, can you think of a song that you would put on a Scarlet Witch playlist?
Heather: Oh, I should have thought about this before. Probably the one thing that pops into my mind is… and I hate that this isn’t as much of deep cut as a lot of your other songs, but, uh, the one thing that pops into my mind is the Florence and the Machine song “Shake It Off” [ed. “Shake It Out”]. I don’t know if you know it but, it’s really a lot about dealing with your demons.
Heather: And shaking them off to keep going. So yeah that’s the… that’s the first thing that came into my head at that question.
Anika: I think that is a great choice and I would say that most Florence and the Machine songs are good for Wanda, so.
Heather: Oh yeah.
Anika: That’s her aesthetic.
Heather: Yes, definitely. Redheads gotta stick together.
Anika: Thank you so much for joining me! Where can we find you online?
Heather: You can primarily find me on twitter, my handle is @NerdyGal33. And I also have my own Star Trek podcast that I cohost with my friend, David, called Promenade Merchants, and that’s @PromTrekPod.
Follow my playlists on YouTube and Spotify and after the episode, the song I’ve discussed will immediately play. Links can be found at anakin.me. That’s A-N-A-K-I-N-dot-M-E. Please follow, like, subscribe and tell all of your friends to do the same. [?Accessing] See you next time and may the Force be with you. [ ?]
My single “Robots Don’t Cry” is now available on itunes, Amazon, Spotify and more. To celebrate the release, I commissioned the artist Danielle Balanqua, who you can find at balangawa, b-a-l-a-n-g-a-w-a, on instagram, to create a series of ten artworks featuring droids and their best friends.
To honor Heather’s favorite Star Wars character, today’s art is of Leia and C-3PO.
Like Artoo, Threepio has a long history. He was introduced in the first film, A New Hope, and as we learn in The Phantom Menace, he was Anakin’s first science experiment, built out of scrap parts as a help for his mother. Threepio spent time with Shmi, Padme, Luke, and others, but his longest relationship with a human is as an attache to Princess, Senator, and General Leia Organa.
Enjoy the art, and please, give “Robots Don’t Cry” a listen. [ ?]
Endless Anakin is a Manic Pixie Dust production. Song: “Robots Don’t Cry”, Anika Dane
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