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WandaVision ‘What is Grief, If Not Love Persevering’ Quote Meaning
Beneath the meta-sitcom exterior, the super-powered beings, and the flash of the MCU, WandaVision is a show about grief. It is a series that has become, somewhat unexpectedly, perfect for the moment. As we’re trapped in our Covid bubbles—likely grieving loved ones and friends, missing the lives we once had—we’re watching Wanda trapped in a self-made bubble of her own trauma. These emotions are real, they’re relatable, and they’re human in a way that nothing else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been before.
And that’s why one line from Episode Eight of WandaVision has become a defining moment of the series for fans. The line comes during a flashback in which Vision and Wanda are discussing her mourning the death of her brother Pietro:
Wanda: It’s 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’s gonna drown me.Vision: No. No, Wanda.
Wanda: How do you know?
Vision: Because it can’t be all sorrow, can it? I’ve always been alone so I don’t feel the lack. It’s all I’ve ever known. I’ve never experienced loss because I’ve never had a loved one to lose. What is grief, if not love persevering?
And that’s the line: “What is grief, if not love persevering?”
It comes after seven episodes in which WandaVision has slowly revealed what is working behind the scenes of this meta sitcom superhero story. And it struck a cord with viewers who related to Vision’s wisdom and Wanda’s struggle. Since that episode on Feb. 26, the line has been the subject of much discussion—with fans either identifying with it or rolling their eyes at it.
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And in a new interview with IGN, director Matt Shakman explains why the line has come to define the series:
[Episode 8] was so important because it pulls back the curtain on what the whole story has been all season, and hopefully folks can go back and look at episodes one, two, and three in a new light now. This is a story about love, it’s about loss, it’s about grief, it’s about how we move on from loss, something I think we all know too much about in general, but especially this year of the pandemic. And so everything that we’ve done so far, even silly live-audience sitcoms in the ‘50s, is fueled by Wanda’s loss and about how she’s trying to find solace from that loss. So that’s what the Avengers HQ scene is really about.
And it’s also about [Wanda and Vision’s] connection. We’ve seen them together, they’ve been quite charming together making paprikash, we’ve seen the highs and the lows, but this is the moment where they really come together. This is the moment where [Vision] provides the solace that she needs, a way forward, and that line [about grief] is quite beautiful. But it’s also made especially beautiful by the line before it, as well, when Wanda articulates what loss is like to her and he is able to give her a way forward. He is able to show her that love is the way through that. He is quite a wise person, Vision. Even though he’s not human, he seems to be more human than any of us. He has some of the best lines in the MCU, I think that one [about grief] written by [WandaVision writer] Laura Donney is gorgeous.
It’s interesting to see the conversation about the line—both positive and negative—happening on social media. These are emotions and themes that the MCU has never truly handled in this way. For fans (and critics alike), it is new to have these ideas presented in a comic book story so earnestly. And I get why some people are quick to make fun of this moment. The MCU has hardly ever been a place for honest feelings or real emotional stakes. A sober line about grief feels disingenuous coming from a blockbuster corporate tentpole that deals in multi-billion-dollar mass produced entertainment. But, I think this quote from Shankman is important in revealing the intention behind the art.
Whether you think the line is beautiful or cheesy (I think the former), it is certainly a perfect example of the type of story that WandaVision is trying to tell. And they’re doing it right.
Matt is the Culture Editor at Esquire where he covers music, movies, books, and TV—with an emphasis on all things Star Wars, Marvel, and Game of Thrones.
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