It seems we have our culprit.
“Who’s doing this to you, Wanda?” Agent Jimmy Woo asked back in ep. 2, and Monica Rambeau came out flying with a response: “It’s all Wanda.”
Or is this what SWORD wants us to think?
In my initial praise of WandaVision, I wondered whether the show could handle its inevitable tonal shift as a larger conspiracy began to unravel. The results so far upon hitting the mid-season marker: pretty good! (Spoilers to follow, so if you haven’t caught up on WandaVision, leave NOW)
I was worried WandaVision would lean too heavily on cryptic teases and cliffhangers that would only be explained in the finale. That’s the whole structure of weekly procedurals – keep you interested with enough questions to chew on across a whole season order and make sure you tune in for the final payoff. So I didn’t expect the show to be so candid with its puzzle pieces – the hiccups in the show-within-a-show’s broadcasting, the flimsy façade of Westview, the larger sprawl of The Hex, etc. It’s nice that WandaVision upends this expectation too on top of our own, answering about as many questions as fast as the show can pose them.
It remains to be seen how well this mystery will hold up the rest of the way. But the show has deviously lubed up our entry on that front by reintroducing Monica Rambeau (now an adult), my boy Jimmy Woo, and Darcy Lewis – a trio of audience surrogates to conveniently investigate and give context to everything going on.
Like I said before, I would 100% watch an earnest 1950s sitcom starring Wanda and Vision. To add to that, I would 1000% watch an X-Files type spinoff revolving around Monica, Jimmy, and Darcy.
This is shaping up to be a clever and madly efficient staple in the MCU’s television corner. Instead of casting the same stock types over and over again (because let’s be honest, the list of actors who’ve been in Marvel films are INFINITE), actually re-use characters from previous sagas to add a whole new dimension to our heroes. I would never have imagined a Captain Marvel, Ant-Man, and Thor composite cast rolled into one TV show, yet here we are.
Yes this is all connected with the Infinity Stones, superhero name drops, and recurring villains as cross-pollinating factors. If Marvel really wanted to deepen the ties to this interconnected universe, give their forgotten supporting characters the proper legroom to shine. (Or just, you know, bother to use them.) Actors like Stellan Skarsgard and Rachel McAdams could easily find new life in the MCU’s budding television domain, but I’m getting ahead of myself.
In these last two eps, WandaVision opened the doors for world-building as they’ve begun to explore the grey areas of the last five years. I wondered how “The Blip” (a.k.a. The Snap, but Blip is more fun to say) would work post-Endgame and whether it would have a greater purpose after the fact.
It appears an organization like SWORD took the mantle left behind by the Avengers and SHIELD. From what we can glean, SWORD had a foothold prior to The Blip and now has full blanket authority. As far as intelligence apparatuses go in the MCU, I doubt SWORD is as noble or transparent as they seem, and they’re beginning to show their hand as a shady organization with an aggressive agenda.
Director Hayward keenly withheld crucial info (Wanda breaking into the facility to “resurrect” Vision, whether that footage is true) and then impulsively ordered a missile strike on Wanda and her kids. (Loose ends, much?) Yeah, this can only end well for SWORD.
So is SWORD as forthcoming as they say they are when labeling Wanda as THE victimizer, or are they part of the puzzle? Five years is a long time. Captain Rambeau may soon find that the agency she blipped out of is not the same one she blipped back into.
On a more serious note: THAT PIETRO REVEAL THO. Where do I even begin?
If this really is all Wanda’s doing, did creating The Hex simultaneously tear a fabric in space-time allowing for other timelines to converge? And if that’s true, then is Disney finally putting its Fox merger deal to use and incorporating the X-Men mythology into the MCU?
I can think of no better way to reintroduce X-Men to the masses— not by completely rebooting the brand, but by re-using the parts of the X-Men films that worked. Not all of it did so this should be easy.
One of the chief hang-ups in Age of Ultron was how the MCU at the time was legally prohibited from using the Quicksilver name. X-Men: Days of Future Past beat Age of Ultron on that front. But Disney could use “Pietro,” though with limited playroom. You can side-step the name but not the character’s very recognizable powers, which is why Pietro’s death in Ultron bore the bitter truth of corporate licensing.
Marvel Studios now has the rights to the mutant brand. And, with the X-Men films also available to stream on Disney Plus, perhaps this is the X-Men timeline converging on the known Marvel universe… or a larger “multiverse” coming our way, if the reports of Spider-Man 3 are to be believed.
This brings up even bigger opportunities that my brain can’t handle: with a new timeline supposedly converging, is the MCU’s own continuity up for grabs? Is Wanda a mutant now? (And is she having trouble remembering her past because of whole new memories wracking her brain?) Will Ian fucking McKellen show up as Magneto to mess with our heads? And further, what events in the MCU (or which characters) gets nicked from canon? What stays for that matter?
In this scenario, poor Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Pietro is a distant memory. Notice, too, the brief snippet of Wanda’s Sokovian past shown via monitor, and Johnson’s Pietro is clipped from the footage. If this erasure sounds impossible, consider how Marvel Studios would rather you forget that Edward Norton was Bruce Banner that one time, or that a film like Thor: The Dark World exists.
Wicked as a multiverse may seem, this may not be the case either.
Because Wanda has a penchant for editing things the way she sees fit. She can rewind, fast forward, and cut whole scenes and characters altogether like she’s the showrunner of her own starring vehicle. The biggest clue lies in this scene with Rambeau’s Geraldine and how Wanda struggles to process the references to Pietro and Ultron.
By “recasting” Pietro, is Wanda blotting out the traumatic parts of her life? That Pietro did die, but a newer if somewhat familiar version of him lives on in her sitcom fantasy. (Another recurring sitcom trope, the brother/lost relative coming into town to stir things up at home.) Is she preserving a memory of Pietro the same way she appears to be protecting Vision? If this is indeed the case, then Wanda’s guilt-ridden mental state is the show’s true centerpiece anomaly where Wanda is in fact the villain of her own story.
This, then, relegates Evan Peters’ appearance to little more than a cheeky cameo—though in any case allows Peters to have his superhero cake and eat it too. So is WandaVision being clever with character licensing that Marvel Studios is finally permitted to use, or is this truly the X-Men converging on the MCU once and for all?
We’re only midway through so anything is game at this point. I’m not quite sold on this being “a new era of television” because, really, WandaVision is demonstrating the hat-trick of the Marvel films done in reverse. The MCU’s long-running film series borrows the structure of television to pave the way for “season finales” via the Avengers films. WandaVision, then, applies a film aesthetic to its television experiment, going so far as to literally toggle between full-screen and widescreen format.
The verdict on the show’s ambitious tagline will have to wait. But halfway through, WandaVision is already a game-changer, boldly going places where the MCU’s film front could not.