(Major spoilers abound for “WandaVision” through the series finale)
Well, that sure was a thing. After a lengthy buildup to the reveal that a witch named Agatha had some kind of nefarious designs on Wanda, everything came to a head in the “WandaVision” finale. And it was, well, kind of a big, wet fart of a climax to the hugely popular show.
The fans deserved better than what they got with Agatha, as did Kathryn Hahn, the actress who played her. Agatha has no layers. No human element. She’s just a one-dimensional cartoon bad guy who we still know nothing about. And that is not how the MCU typically treats its villains.
Most of the MCU films to date have been painstaking in the way they humanize their baddies. I mean, this is the franchise that did a pretty in-depth exploration of the guy who deleted half of all life in the universe. This is a franchise that will present a genocidal maniac like Killmonger in “Black Panther” and make you think that, you know, maybe he’s got a point.
And that’s a very good thing, having antagonists who are actually characters with motivations that are clearly on display. It helps with our emotional investment in the whole thing, and the heroes themselves are humanized by facing these complex foes.
But Agatha is not complex. She revealed herself with a funny little cartoon song, and then stuck with that cackling, maniacal tone the rest of the way. We got just one piece of information about her past, thanks to a flashback in the penultimate episode, but even in that scene she was the same flatly evil caricature that she was in the present. Cackling as she turned her witch pals into dried up corpses.
I find this particularly annoying because “WandaVision” was supposed to be a meditation on grief. You’d have thought that maybe we’d learn that Agatha had some kind of tragic backstory that turned her into this monster, a la Zemo from “Captain America: Civil War.” Or that she would have, like Thanos, some kind of messed up purpose that she thought would ultimately serve the greater good.
But no. The Agatha on “WandaVision” is just a bad lady with magic powers on a quest to get more magic powers. What did she even want to do with those powers? What’s her general deal? She’s been alive for hundreds of years — but why? What has she been doing this whole time?
And why did Agatha only just pop up now? Wanda has been on the scene for years — and she would be super famous after the Sokovia Accords were enacted because of something she did. And Wanda has apparently been casting magic spells this whole time, so you’d think that would have gotten Agatha’s attention.
The idea that makes the most sense to me as I reflect on “WandaVision” as a whole is that Agatha’s backstory was supposed to be tied in with multiverse stuff. Perhaps given that the MCU’s Phase 4 had to be reordered due to COVID closing movie theaters — and filming on “WandaVision” shut down half way through and resumed six months later, which had to affect things like scheduling and guest star availability — they stripped out the multiverse story elements because they didn’t think it was the right place to introduce all that.
And if Agatha’s history took place in an alternate universe, then they would have had to delete it, leaving us this absolute caricature.
This is, for the record, me giving Marvel the benefit of the doubt on this. I’m operating under the assumption that they didn’t just fail to humanize Agatha, but that they were forced into presenting her character this way because of circumstances.
Regardless of the reason, the way Agatha turned out on “WandaVision” is pretty maddening. The MCU fandom grew so attached to the franchise over the years in large part because they didn’t handle villains this way, and they know full well we expect our villains to have much more going on beneath the surface than Agatha ever did.
Hopefully this isn’t the start of a trend. But at least we should be at least somewhat safe with “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” later this month since it’s bringing back Zemo and we already know all about him. Beyond that, though…