The path to WandaVision hasn’t been an easy one for Kevin Feige and the Marvel Studios team. Well, at least the path to Wanda Maximoff.
Wanda Maximoff, one of the most powerful characters both in the MCU and the comics, found herself the child of divorced parents. There was Disney on one side that wanted to use the character in its Marvel Cinematic Universe films, and 20th Century Fox on the other that technically owned her rights. Marvel’s team found a way to make the character work, but something always felt off.
Following Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox, and everything becoming one giant family, things have changed — and so much of how this can benefit the MCU became clear in WandaVision’s penultimate episode.
[We’re seven weeks and eight episodes into this, friends. You know what’s about to happen. Don’t want to be spoiled? Stop reading here.]
A PORTRAIT OF GRIEF
It almost feels stupid to talk about theories of what’s to come. This episode was the most poignant, beautiful breakdown of the unbelievable grief Wanda Maximoff has experienced throughout her life. Agatha, who was introduced at the end of last week’s episode as the witch masquerading as Wanda’s neighbor Agnes, brings Wanda on a journey through the past using a series of portals.
We see as Wanda watched her parents die by the hands of a Stark Industries missile in Sokovia, while trapped under the bed with her twin brother Pietro, the only family she had left. It then moves to the Hydra facility where Wanda and Pietro volunteered for the organization. Her powers, seemingly present from when she was a young child, allow her to touch the mind stone trapped within the scepter seen with Loki in The Avengers without immediately dying.
In a post-Age of Ultron world, Wanda is once again dealing with more grief after Pietro was gunned down in Sokovia after trying to help the Avengers. In one heartbreaking scene, where Vision is trying to help Wanda through the grieving process, we’re treated to an intimate conversation between the two, wherein Vision tells Wanda, “What is grief if not love persevering?”
The final bit of Wanda’s memory focuses on Wanda trying to get Vision’s body back after Endgame. Instead, she walks in on Director Hayward and his S.W.O.R.D. team dismantling Vision’s body, after he’s declared the “most dangerous sentient weapon ever made.” It’s all too much for Wanda, who drives to the empty lot where Vision purchased a deed for their home “to grow old in.” Wanda’s grief finally reaches a breaking point, causing her magic to explode, taking over the town of WestView and introducing the fictional reality she’s in.
So much of WandaVision thus far has focused on Wanda’s grief presenting itself in small ways. Her grief is spoken about — by Darcy, Monica, Pietro, and even Vision — but Wanda rarely showed it. The penultimate episode finally allowed it to take center stage. It’s vital for the finale for audiences to truly understand how desperate and full of grief Wanda is, to properly set up whatever is going to happen next, and this episode finally allowed us to do so. It’s a beautiful episode of television and, if they can stick the landing, it may make WandaVision one of my favorite pieces of the MCU.
WELCOME, SCARLET WITCH
That said, there are some things to explore a little further, starting with a beautiful retcon of a retcon... kind of.
When Marvel Studios first introduced Wanda and Pietro, there were a couple of rules. They couldn’t use the word mutant (that’s why both were referred to as enhanced beings), and since they couldn’t exist as Magneto’s children (that’s Fox territory), they were retconned, including in the comics leading up to Age of Ultron’s release. It was always a sore point for Marvel fans, but the community understood the licensing battles were complicated. Post-Fox acquisition, everything changed, and the end of this WandaVision episode finally introduced Wanda as the Scarlet Witch.
Wanda and Pietro’s powers were retconned within the Marvel Cinematic Universe as something that was enhanced by Hydra. Neither realized they had any special abilities, but genetic testing conducted in part using the scepter unlocked extraordinary abilities in both of them. WandaVision takes it one step further, allowing Agatha to point out to Wanda that she apparently had abilities inside her since birth that she was using even as a child. For example, when Wanda and Pietro’s home exploded after a Stark missile went off, and they were stuck under the bed, Agatha remarked that Wanda was likely using a probability hex to ensure they remained safe.
In the comics, Wanda’s powers allow her to control probability via her hexes — the same word for her powers is also the shape of the fictional city she’s made for herself, yes. As long as whatever she was trying to control was in her line of sight, Wanda could control the probability of what would happen. In the episode, when Wanda is staring at the non-detonated Stark missile that landed in her living room, it’s simply a case of “good luck” created by Wanda that stopped it from ever going off. At least, that’s what happened according to Agatha.
Wanda’s powers are increasingly important for one theory that’s floated around for a while — WandaVision isn’t setting up Mephisto, the Marvel devil that has become the most popular theory for the big bad reveal in the finale, but Dormammu.
Doctor Strange fans will recognize the name Dormammu as the metaphysical villain that Strange had to defeat in his film back in 2016.
Well, Dormammu also has a pretty special connection to Wanda Maximoff. She, alongside a number of Avengers and Defenders, came together to try to stop Dormammu from putting together the pieces of an ancient artifact known as the Evil Eye, which would allow Earth to be brought into a dark dimension. Who does Dormammu enlist to help achieve this goal? Everyone’s favorite god of mischief, Loki, whose story is about to continue in his own series this June.
The theory found new ground thanks to the color of Agatha’s magic. It’s not red or orange like Wanda’s and Doctor Strange’s: it’s purple. That’s the same color as Dormammu. It’s not exactly like magic is color-coded in the MCU (although it might be going forward), but if Agatha and Dormammu are representations of evil — despite Agatha being a mentor to Wanda in the comics — using a certain color of magic to display their evilness could be one method.
Now, look — Dormammu seems like a bit of a stretch. The last time we saw the nefarious being, they had signed a pact with Strange to never return to Earth and we really haven’t heard anything since. At the same time, we do know that WandaVision leads into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and messing around with evil villains from different worlds certainly seems to be where Phase 4 of the MCU is headed between Multiverse of Madness and The Eternals.
Dormammu is also, quite literally, at one point the Lord of Chaos. Agatha revealed to Wanda this week that she wields chaos magic. It’s an incredibly rare form of magic and makes her more powerful than anyone realized. This is also why people believe she’ll be revealed as a Nexus being, an anchor within the multiverse whose existence is key to Doctor Strange. She’s crucial in maintaining the stability of all mankind on Earth. As my Polygon colleague Susana Polo wrote about the history of Wanda’s chaos magic in the comics:
Eventually, other writers gave Wanda’s brand of magic a specific source: The God-of-Chaos-turned-ancient-demon-turned-Lovecraft-style -creepy-force-of-darkness-locked-away-in-an-alternate-dimension Chthon. Chthon’s place of power was Mount Wundagore, a fictional place in Eastern Europe where Wanda just happened to have been born. That’s probably not going to make it into WandaVision, but it does put Wanda among the Marvel Universe’s foremost wielders of Chaos Magic
Just as unlikely as Chthon being introduced into the MCU via WandaVision is Dormammu, quite honestly. There are too many questions about other characters and plotlines set up, including Billy and Tommy, Wanda’s kids. They have a closer connection to Agatha and Mephisto, and how much is WandaVision supposed to set up for an entire phase? It feels like a lot to cram into one final episode!
So, let’s focus on the one character we know will play out next episode and examine just how heartbreaking it’s likely going to be — White Vision.
WHO IS WHITE VISION?
Everyone knows who Vision is, but in the comics, there’s a version of the character that actually was used as a sentient weapon — and he lost everything that made him the lovable synthezoid in the process.
White Vision entered the comics in 1989 as part of John Byrne’s Vision Quest series from a West Coast Avengers run. The run found Vision’s body being dismantled by a government group. Once his body was dismantled, he lost the color in his skin. Although Hank Pym figured out a way to revive Vision, he remained a ghost white version of himself. More importantly, reviving Vision meant that the synthezoid also lost connection to Wanda and their sons.
In the MCU, Vision’s colorless body is also a reference to his death post-Thanos. There’s already a logical explanation for why Vision would look white, but the post-credits scene acknowledges that White Vision is created using the same energy that Wanda is using to keep her fictional town going. He’s only resurrected through her chaos magic, and it’s likely only her chaos magic that can destroy him.
The post-credits scene in this week’s WandaVision sets up a finale where Wanda might have to fight White Vision. It’s a little poetic, and absolutely heartbreaking. In order to protect her family, she has to acknowledge that Vision is actually dead and defeat him in the process. I assume she’ll have a little help from Monica Rambeau’s Spectrum (perhaps!) along the way, perhaps, but that brings up another important question: what happened to Monica? We didn’t see her at all in this episode, but we know she was found by Pietro after trying to help Wanda.
Everything will finally be answered next week as WandaVision comes to an end.