Written by Brittany Anderson
WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany, concludes with a dramatic ending, inducing surprise, joy, grief, and for some eager fans, disappointment. The 9-episode Disney+ series combines sci-fi, drama, comedy, fantasy, mystery and of course, action. Its weekly serialized format makes room for eager Marvel geeks around the world to take to the internet to predict what comes next for the show that starts in a very confusing, open-ended way.
It opens with Wanda and Vision reunited after Vision’s death in Avengers: Endgame (though neither of them seem to remember the events of any of the past Marvel Cinematic Universe [MCU] films), living in suburban Westview through a series of decade-long television episodes, each with different styles starting with the black-and-white fifties and ending in the present.
Photo: Wanda in the 50s
The show plays into different tropes from each decade, such as the suburban-perfection in earlier episodes, to more light-hearted dialogue and bright color schemes in the 70’s and 80’s, to deadpan humor and mockumentary style filming in the 00’s. The show certainly hits nostalgia square on the head, time traveling through each decade with the characters. We follow Wanda and Vision as they start a family and get to know their neighbors. Then strange things start to happen, and they (and we) start to question their reality. We also see other characters, most notably Agnes, brilliantly played by Kathryn Hahn, start to act strangely as well.
We eventually get to see what’s happening in the real world outside of the bubble of TV-decade-hopping. We find that the newly introduced Sentient Weapons Observation & Response Division (S.W.O.R.D.) has been monitoring this anomaly, later named the ‘Hex’, and trying to figure out what’s going on. We see fan favorite characters return from Marvel movies such as Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis from the Thor movies, Randall Park as Jimmy Woo from the Ant-Man movies, and an all-grown-up Monica Rambeau from Captain Marvel, played by Teyonah Parris.
These fun inclusions excite Marvel fans, and show us that MCU overlaps can certainly happen not just within Avengers movies, but in what’s to come as well. The relationships between these ‘real life’ characters have their own quirks and strains, their own respective stories, and we learn that there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes.
Photo: on the right, Pietro, played by Evan Peters
The final episodes show us this wasn’t the epic introduction to the multiverse introduced in Avengers: Endgame that many online theorizers were excited to see, especially after a cameo from Evan Peters as Wanda’s brother Pietro, who plays the same crossover character in Fox’s X-Men series. Some fans thought we might see epic, evil overlords like Mephisto, a demon character known to use his powers to control people, or Magneto, a villain able to wield magnetic fields who’s Wanda’s father.
Alas, we’re left with a different ending that shows us that it was a beautiful (albeit quirky and unpredictable), meditation on love and grief. Without relying on the bad-versus-good conceit Marvel usually goes for, we’re left pondering who were the villains and who were the heroes, as well as the nuances of superhero’s lives and how they affect others. Many viewers were left crying (listeners of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Podcast said that they were all sobbing in a finale live-watch Zoom call) and wishing things were different for the beloved Wanda. Even though she was made out to be a semi-villain, we sympathize once we find out what’s really happening and what she’s gone through not only in Avengers: Endgame, but throughout her tragic life.
Neither Disney nor Marvel have officially confirmed a second season, but many fans have faith this story is far from over. What has been confirmed is that Wanda will have a major role in the upcoming Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (known as ‘MOM’ in Marvel-geek-speak) and we can see how she and characters from this series will continue to be present.
Photo: WandaVision Comics
Geeks like me that want to take the theorizing deeper, can take to good ol’ comic books for answers. The Scarlet Witch (Wanda’s superhero name, and not used in the MCU until this series’ finale) was first introduced in 1964, and shown to have the power to alter probability. She was later depicted as a powerful magical sorceress, and then even later shown to be powerful enough to alter reality (sound familiar?). In 1975 she married her android Avengers teammate Vision (hey, we know him!) and in the 80’s they settled down in suburbia, trying to fit in despite being superheroes. Wanda gives birth to twins Billy and Tommy and similarly to the show, it’s unclear how they’re conceived. Wanda also has a twin brother named Pietro (a.k.a. Quicksilver) and they were initially reluctant villains before joining the Avengers. It’s clear that WandaVision drew source material from these original comic book storylines, but the show’s taken things to the next level and made adjustments to fit within the MCU timeline.
Also worth reading alongside WandaVision is House of M (2005), which follows the Avengers after Wanda has a mental breakdown that causes her to kill some Avengers and completely change reality. She’s hunted down and found to be struggling and delusional, not wanting to cause harm but also not knowing how to stop her powers. This feeds into the WandaVision narrative, but with a modern twist on mental health that many will appreciate.
Vision (2015-2016) tells the story of Vision building a new life and family, quite literally. We meet his newly created “synthezoid” (sub-type of android) wife Virginia, and two teenage kids Vin and Viv, and follow them as they try to fit into a suburban town where androids aren’t yet fully welcome. This series touches upon not just android/human relations, but what it means to be a family, to take responsibility for your actions, and to embrace who you are, themes we certainly see again in WandaVision. Wanda only appears at the end of the series, and she’s shown as a loving character that’s still fond of Vision, even though they’ve broken up. She becomes a role model for his daughter Viv, who’s still in Marvel comics today. Viv joins the superhero team ‘Champions’ alongside Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), Spider-Man (Miles Morales), Nova and The Hulk.
Photo: Falcon and the Winter Soldier series still
Disney+ didn’t leave MCU fans hanging for long. On March 19th, we reunited with Captain America’s buddies Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson for the 6-episode Falcon and the Winter Soldier, starring Sebastian Stan, Anthony Mackie, and Emily VanCamp reprising her role as Sharon Carter. We get a look at the post-Endgame geopolitical climate, the current state of superhero-citizen relationships, the mental health of Bucky after many years of mind control and fighting, as well as Sam’s struggles with his home life and being a Black Avenger in America. Not-so-fun fact: this show was originally filmed with a virus-focused plotline, but was later understandably almost fully re-shot with a different story.
Photo: Loki series still
On June 11th, Loki hits Disney+. This series follows the trickster Asguardian villain-turned-semi-hero on his adventures after escaping with the tesseract in Avengers: Endgame. The show looks to be very sci-fi and fantasy heavy, and presumably less about interpersonal drama and more of a fun space-time romp.
Photo: Black Widow film still
Black Widow, which premieres July 9th, will explore the character’s origin story and her adventures in between Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War. Around the same time, it’s expected we’ll see What If…?, an animated Disney+ series that will show us pivotal MCU moments turned on their heads.
Sony Pictures steps back in the game in September to remind us of their piece of the Marvel world with Venom 2: Maximum Carnage. There’s a rumor that Tom Holland’s Spiderman will appear to help save the day against Woody Harrelson’s demogorgon-looking supervillain. The same month, it’s expected that we’ll get the film Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, starring an awesome cast including Awkwafina.
Photo: MCU original release slate
Later this year we can expect to see Eternals, Spider-Man: No Way Home, and another new Disney+ series, Ms. Marvel. In 2022 and beyond, we’ll be seeing more of Dr. Strange, Thor, Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, Hawkeye, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Patriot, Nick Fury, and meeting new characters being introduced into the MCU such as Moon Knight, She-Hulk, and Ironheart.
Marvel’s not at a loss for what to bring us next, and we have years of mind-bending superhero journeys to look forward to. WandaVision was a great kickoff into what’s next, and showed us the unique kinds of stories that only Marvel can tell.