The Graduate Review


The superhero genre traditionally dictates that a hero’s traumatic past drives them to save people, and cities—often perceived as highly populated places that are full of crime—make for places where there are plenty of people in need of saving. This trope is notably disrupted, however, in an MCU sitcom-style television show released in 2021: WandaVision. This article contends that WandaVision’s suburban setting serves to mediate and reflect Wanda’s trauma and subsequent sense of powerlessness, as she constructs a small world that is (on the surface) stable and safe from the pain, loss, and violence of the outside world, yet (beneath the surface) furthers the entrapment and instability that characterizes her past. Wanda reconfigures the stereotypical role of a suburban housewife from something that is constrictive to something that is freeing, as it offers her an escape from her identity as a hero and a reprieve into a new life that is structured and stable. However, this quaint suburban life is not sustainable for a superhero, and ultimately the pitfalls of suburbia crumble Wanda’s contrived reality, serving as an ominous reminder regarding the power of the suburbs: though they may be places of order and stability, the control inherent in this dynamic is reciprocal; just as residents of the suburbs shape their community, the suburbs shape their residents right back.

Note on the Author

Elise Cavanaugh is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in Teaching in English at Bridgewater State University. This paper was completed in spring 2023 under the mentorship of Dr. Heidi Bean for the course ENGL 570: The Suburbs in American Literature and Film. Elise works as an English teacher at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Massachusetts and will complete her master’s degree in summer 2023.