Teyonah Parris breaks down the details behind the transformation of her WandaVision character Monica Rambeau. Throughout the first season, Monica has frequently entered and exited the Hex, the extraterrestrial force field shielding the town of Westview from the outer world. In light of these excursions, Dr. Darcy Lewis quickly warns Monica to avoid infiltrating the Hex again because the boundary has rewritten the molecular structure of her cells, which may cause unforeseen consequences. Despite these warnings, the newest episode follows Monica as she runs into the Hex once again, this time to offer critical information to Wanda.
In the MCU, many viewers originally met Monica as a young girl in the 2019 film Captain Marvel, which featured Brie Larson playing the titular character. Set in 1995, the movie centers on Carol Danvers as she eventually regains her human memories and reunites with her best friend and ally, Maria Rambeau. During this time, she meets Maria’s daughter, Monica, who she previously knew when she was an infant. In WandaVision, the adult Monica occasionally mentions Danvers and her mother, hinting at her loss, but does not fully demonstrate the scope of her unresolved feelings until “Breaking the Fourth Wall.”
While speaking with Marvel, Parris shared the reasoning behind her character’s motivations, observing, “We saw the physical manifestation of Monica moving through her grief.” In greater detail, she explained both the technical and emotional mechanics of her character’s transformation:
“[Director] Matt [Shakman] guided me through [the scene]…He had in his mind how it would all mesh together. I just tried to imagine the grief and the heaviness of Monica losing her mom and not being there, and the heaviness of the guilt. And then essentially at the end, wanting to make her proud, wanting to show [Maria Rambeau] that I will move forward.”
As Parris later illuminated, filming the scene proved physically challenging because it involved displaying the literal conversion of her cell structure. To do this, Parris had to re-shoot the same action in different outfits, conveying the passage of time, while tethered to a harness that pulled her back in a swift motion. In the episode, multiple voices from her past can be heard speaking to Monica as she travels through the Hex. When her character finally finds Wanda, the angry superhero responds by violently using her telekinetic abilities against Monica, but her new powers enable her to land on her feet. According to Parris, this was the first moment of filming where she truly felt like a superhero, both in terms of shooting and storytelling.
Throughout WandaVision, the show has carefully explored the simmering tensions of grief and loss via a superhero lens. While many of the characters harbor otherworldly powers, they also must confront the incredibly human dilemmas of pain and regret. As the current episode indicates, Wanda is far from the only protagonist struggling with trauma. Monica’s newfound abilities, along with her capacity to relate to and sympathize with Wanda, set her up as a compelling foil and, hopefully, friend to the Scarlet Witch.