Heavy spoilers for WandaVision episodes 1 and 2 ahead.
It finally happened, Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off with the premiere of the highly anticipated series WandaVision starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision.
Theories have been floating for months about what the series would hold and who it could introduce into the MCU, but there’s been one main question that’s been on everyone’s mind since the first teaser dropped during the 2020 Super Bowl — what is going on exactly? WandaVision is like nothing the MCU has done before, even beyond it being the first television series to drop. When synopses started releasing and interviews with creators and cast started to filter through, we learned that the series would take place through the decades in the style of classic television sitcoms and then somehow end up tying into the MCU as a whole, namely with the Doctor Strange sequel Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. That tidbit alone brought up a realm of new questions — is this the introduction to the Multiverse?
There were three main speculated possibilities regarding just how Wanda and somehow Vision, who died in Avengers: Infinity War, could have wound up living a classic apple pie life.
The announcement for the show came right on the heels of Avengers: Endgame at San Diego Comic-Con in 2019, and for a little while, it seemed to make sense that it might explore a bizarre alternate reality that the victims of Thanos’ Snap may have been stashed at. And who better to make things a little bit wild with than the reality-bending Wanda Maximoff? However, as more and more info came out this seemed less likely, and with a few minor details from the first two episodes, this can practically be debunked, though this is the MCU, and nothing can be ruled out.
Things are obviously amiss in Westview, but the way Wanda seemingly had complete control over Vision when Mr. Hart was choking and the appearance of S.W.O.R.D. in episode 1, along with Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), who we know will have a larger role in future episodes, calling out to Wanda in episode 2 through the radio alone point to this not being a result of the Snap. Also, in teasers and trailers, you can see our characters reaching through what appears to be a force field, which is likely the bars of this Truman Show-like prison.
Kevin Feige has also alluded to this being post-Avengers: Endgame in press junkets by leading in with a “where are they now?” Take that with a grain of salt, but all signs are pointing to this theory not being the case.
Wanda’s Unimaginable Grief
Wanda has experienced more trauma than any of the current MCU characters, and it is definitely playing into the series as a whole. The only question is how much. Wanda has lost every important influence in her life — her parents, her twin brother, Pietro, and then her love, Vision, but aside from that, she has also suffered trauma at the hands of HYDRA. Even the strongest people have a breaking point. The last time we saw Wanda was at Tony Stark’s funeral at the end of Avengers: Endgame, and she was seemingly okay. However, she had just been snapped back into existence after the five-year Blip. So, even though by all outward appearances Wanda was handling what life had thrown at her in those particular moments, we don’t know what could have been going on in her head at that time or any events after since it’s still unknown when exactly WandaVision is taking place in regards to time post-Endgame.
Wanda’s grief and traumas are clearly going to play a large role in WandaVision, and we know this from the two oddly placed ads that play during the show. First, in episode 1, was the Toast Mate 2000 from Stark Industries. We know Stark Industries played a large role in Wanda’s trauma as it was a Stark weapon that killed her parents in Sokovia, and would have also killed her and her brother had the bomb that landed directly in front of them not failed to fire. This is likely Wanda’s earliest traumatic life incident in episode 1.
Next, was the Strucker watch in episode 2, complete with the HYDRA name and insignia. Of course, Wolfgang von Strucker is the HYDRA operative that performed countless experiments on humans attempting to give them superhuman powers using the Mind Stone from Loki’s scepter after the Avengers events in New York. In the MCU, this is where Wanda and Pietro gained their powers; they were also the only survivors of the experiments. In terms of timeline, this would probably be incident number two in her difficult history.
Other painful moments we might see included are the manipulation Wanda suffered at the hands of Ultron, the death of Pietro, the destruction in Lagos at her hand from Captain America: Civil War and the ‘Civil War’ that caused in the Avengers, the attack on Vision in Edinburgh by the Black Order, and of course, Vision’s death at the hand of Thanos and the failure she may be feeling for failing to stop that as well as the Snap.
This traumatic backstory is being used as subtle hints in this story, and how it fits in will likely change the character of Wanda Maximoff for good.
Wanda is likely able to create herself an entirely new reality if she really wanted to or lost enough control. So this theory is completely plausible, and there are signs within the show that point to it being a reality.
A New Villain is on the Loose, But Who?
There are a few different villains that may have a hand in what we’re seeing; whether they’re the true cause or not, they may be helping.
Nightmare, known from the Doctor Strange comics, has been a likely contender for a WandaVision foe from the beginning. When it was confirmed that WandaVision would directly lead into the Doctor Strange sequel, Nightmare was brought to the front of the line. Nightmare can trap people in their dreams by quite literally capturing (and then tormenting) their astral forms. This is a very likely possibility — what’s a better way to hinder the abilities of the most powerful Avenger than manipulating her grief and bringing her a life she likely dreamed of having and can’t? Vision is dead, we all know this, yet somehow he’s here, and it can’t be a good sign. This works with the above that Wanda’s grief is a main player in the series and her predicament, but shoulders the blame onto a new player that can be used throughout more of Phase 4’s projects.
What’s also interesting about WandaVision is that others are clearly being thrust into this illusion — so far, definitely Monica Rambeau and to those who were paying very close attention, Abe Brown. Abe Brown is a classmate of Peter Parker’s that was featured in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and his name was seen in the closing credits of the WandaVision episode within the episode as the director. In the comics, Abe Brown does eventually go on to become Black Tiger. So, if this is Nightmare, he may have trapped more than just Wanda in his realm.
Another name has become the talk of the fans as more details on Wanda and Vision’s neighbor, Agnes, come to light. For the majority of the lead-up to the series, she was known only as the nosy neighbor being played by Kathryn Hahn, but we can already see she’s so much more. She certainly is nosy and very willing to make Wanda’s time in Westview as easy and enjoyable as possible. When it comes to the Avengers, Wanda is certainly one that would be best to keep placated, happy, and fooled. Agnes finds nothing about Wanda or Vision’s unusual lives … unusual, and these tiny details can be seen in her lending Wanda her records because they have no music and food because they have none. She also doesn’t seem to catch on to their strangeness as we’ve seen other residents of Westview have. Is she in on it? Most likely. In a teaser released, Agnes is seen speaking to Vision, and she knows he’s dead and has been. So, who might she be? Possibly Agatha Harkness.
A witch from the times of the Salem Witch Trials (and long before), Agatha Harkness at one point became a mentor to Wanda Maximoff in the skills of witchcraft before Scarlet Witch ultimately destroyed her. It has been noted that there are subtle nods to Agatha and the Salem Witch Trials already in Agnes’ character, with her amulet akin to that of Agatha’s and her wedding anniversary being the start date of the Salem Witch Trials — June 2. In interviews through the long wait for the series’ release, Olsen has said many times that this series will see Wanda become the Scarlet Witch, and the addition of her mentor, Agatha, to the plot would be one surefire way to get that done. Agnes is clearly in on whatever is keeping Wanda in TV-Land. Whether she’s a main player or just a piece of a more intricate puzzle remains to be seen. Are these new powers something Wanda is using to dull her pain being taught by Agatha? There have been theories that Wanda herself may be the next big MCU villain, as her alignment with good and bad has fluctuated in the comics, and this very well could be introducing her for a heel turn.
Another villain made a little cameo, Grim Reaper. There’s little evidence to support Grim Reaper being more than an Easter Egg appearance right now, but again, this is the MCU, and nothing can be ruled out. In the animated opening scene of episode 2, Grim Reaper’s helmet can be seen buried beneath the floorboards, complete with bones and cobwebs. Grim Reaper plays a large role in the Vision comics, not so much into any directly relating to Wanda, but at one point, Grim Reaper does attack Vision’s family, which results in his death at the hands of Vision’s wife — who was modeled after gifted brainwaves from Scarlet Witch — Virginia. This could easily just be switched to Wanda and the twins that suddenly appear in-utero at the end of episode 2, but what it could do for the story remains to be seen.
S.W.O.R.D. is also seemingly on the case — they know something is amiss — which can fit into both theories one and two. They clearly have no idea who is doing this to Wanda, but as of now it would seem they don’t suspect Wanda herself to be the cause.
Easter Eggs & Other Hints
This series is full of fun Easter Eggs from the MCU, and also a few other hints that everything is really not okay in Westview. In episode 1, Wanda has no qualms about using her powers on the front lawn of their home. Sure it was a great little sitcom moment, but could her willingness to use her powers out in broad daylight mean something else? Another bizarre little instance is Vision’s place of work. It has no real purpose, no one can explain what they do there, and somehow they’re all just okay with calling him Vision. This is certainly pointing to everyone involved somehow being brainwashed or in on the facade.
Another detail is in the camera work. When Mr. Hart is choking, the entire ambiance of the show and scene change, insinuating that this is a break from the ruse and a moment when Wanda potentially has (very minimally) detached herself from whatever powers are holding her in place. Also, while this may have just been a small nod to the era, Vision holding the remote at the end of episode 1 and turning the program off could be another clue, or it might not.
Episode 1 also featured a dark little callback to the battle in Wakanda during Avengers: Infinity War when Wanda accidentally smashes a plate over Vision’s head. This can be traced back to Wanda’s moments on the battlefield as Shuri worked to remove the Mind Stone from Vision’s head. Surely, Wanda still has some unresolved feelings about this as she comments on his ‘indestructible head,’ which we all know she effectively did have to destroy in Infinity War, only to have to watch Thanos destroy him in an even more unbearable way.
The toy helicopter brought about a ton of questions in episode 2. The morning after some odd banging on their bedroom window, Wanda heads outside to find a toy helicopter in the bushes of her yard — and it’s in color featuring the S.W.O.R.D. logo. Also in episode 2 was the introduction of Geraldine, who we know from previous announcements is actually Monica Rambeau. The helicopter is the perfect metaphor for something coming crashing into Wanda’s reality — could it be S.W.O.R.D. trying to infiltrate? Wanda was potentially able to ward off the intrusion of the helicopter, and this resulted in the addition of Geraldine, who seems just as confused as Wanda is about her own history, to the mix.
In the same theme of Wanda seemingly having more control than was let on in episode 1, the ending of episode 2 gave a little more insight into what might be going on. Wanda and Vision again hear the banging outside as they had the night before, yet this time an extremely eerie and ominous beekeeper is emerging out of the sewer grate in the street by their home. We never get to see a face, but we do see the S.W.O.R.D. logo on his back. Is this another attempt by S.W.O.R.D. to infiltrate wherever Wanda is hiding/being held? Wanda, however, does not approve of this intrusion and rewinds time to be just moments before the slamming had occurred. And instead of the slamming, suddenly the world turns to color, introducing the era for episode 3 — the 70s.
All bets point to Wanda does have control over what’s going on, at least some of it. She seemed as surprised as us when the world turned from the black and white of the 50s and 60s to Technicolor, but she rewound time enough to get the spooky and unwelcome beekeeper out of her reality.
So much still to learn and see in WandaVision, and at this rate, it’s only going to get better. Kat Dennings’ Darcy Lewis still has yet to make an appearance, and Randall Park’s Agent Jimmy Woo hasn’t physically appeared on the screen. Episodes 1 and 2 are currently streaming on Disney+ with new episodes coming out on Fridays.