‘WandaVision’: Underneath a perfect facade, it’s all sinister and horrible
The August 2019 D23 Expo provided Marvel fans with additional reveals about the original Disney+ television series WandaVision, a 1950s-esque sitcom that promises new experiences for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The more news I find about WandaVision, the more excited I get.
Between the show somehow bringing Vision back to life, to being half-sitcom/half-MCU epic, to connecting to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it’s hard to tell what we could be watching. We break down what to expect within WandaVision.
WANDAVISION!!! Official D23 poster I had the honor of painting during the early concept phase of preproduction. This @DisneyPlus show is gonna be something totally fresh.. & weird! #ElizabethOlsen #PaulBettany @DisneyD23 #D23Expo #D23Expo2019 #Disney+ @MarvelStudios #WandaVision pic.twitter.com/VJU4p05Pmb
— Andy Park (@andyparkart) August 25, 2019
During the expo, the new poster for WandaVision was released, presenting fans with hints as to what the essence of the show is really about.
Wanda and Vision’s Clothing
From the looks of Wanda and Vision’s clothes, it is clear that this is where we will get the “1950s aesthetic,” according to Elizabeth Olsen. This poster may be the same image Olsen was seen just before the premiere of ‘Avengers: Endgame’ when she said,
“It’s gonna be Wanda and Vision. I think at the Disney+ launch chat they showed a photo of us in the 50s, and I think that’s a good teaser. It’s gonna be really fun.”
As well as the obvious decade aesthetic, the clothing relates to each character’s superhero costume. Vision wearing a blue-green cardigan, yellow shirt and red tie, while Wanda is wearing a red dress—both of these being in the color scheme of their characters as superheroes in the comics.
This suggests that the truth is still out there and the decade aesthetic may be a front to seem like a normal couple in a normal house in a normal suburb.
Ominous Red Light
Another standout point in this poster is the ominous red glow being emitted from the television. Again, this TV set is very 1950s, adding to the aesthetic, but it is glowing red, casting a light over Wanda, Vision and the wall behind them, projecting the only color throughout the whole poster onto Wanda and Vision.
The TV is glowing a crimson light referencing Wanda’s scarlet-red magic, showing that we will be seeing more of her power (including reality alteration) in this series.
Cast by the light of the TV, we see the looming shadows behind Wanda and Vision. What’s weird is they are not of the human Vision and housewife Wanda we see sat on the settee. Instead, we see a silhouette of an android Vision, complete with the mind gem in his forehead and beside him, Wanda with her iconic headpiece from the comics.
This is the first time we see Scarlet Witch’s tiara from the comics. There’s really no reason why she would throw one on in the MCU. The only excuse I can think of for the headdress is if it turns out to be an artifact, like Doctor Strange’s cape, the relic chooses Wanda and helps her either amplify, focus, or work with her powers.
Before seeing a zoomed out copy of this poster, many fans saw the silhouette of Wanda closer to Vision and the headpiece appearing like devil/demon horns, which adds on to theories about Vision having a bad soul after his rebuild and thus being possessed by a demon of sorts.
Though with the zoomed out version of the artwork, it is more likely that the 1950s aesthetic of a housewife and her husband is a front to appear more ordinary as a couple, but their true selves as Vision and the Scarlet Witch, a synthezoid and a very powerful magical Mutant, are still there under the surface.
In addition to the red light being emitted from the television, it is only lighting up Wanda and Vision and the wall, where we see their shadows—everything else is greyed out and sightly distorted, like the door and curtains, kind of like a dream state that’s just barely clinging to existence. This adds to the alternative reality that they make themselves, in order to live in peace, since they are lit up but everything around them is unfazed by the red glow (or in this context, Wanda’s magic).
It is interesting to wonder how the characters of Jimmy Woo, Darcy Lewis and Monica Rambeau are going to be introduced, but there is one character, still to be named, who will either be from Wanda’s past, help her with her magic, or be the villain of the series.
The greyed room setup of the 1950s won’t be able to stay around for long, since perhaps they will be discovered or Wanda will be corrupted by Vision’s corrupted soul, forcing her to fight for the man she loves.
As mentioned above, the lighting in this poster is both cheerful and ominous. On one hand, there’s a surreal, dreamlike quality about the coloring—cheerful because Wanda and Vision are smiling at one another, hand in hand, while being lit in a yellow tungsten light (much like household lamps). On the other hand, it’s ominous because the red glow of the television is projecting the shadows of the pair’s true selves, as an android and a witch, onto the wall behind them.
Wanda and Vision’s Comic history
Paul Bettany said in an interview at the D23 Expo: “It’s a mashup between a couple of our favorite comics that will remain nameless”, while Elizabeth Olsen said, “We get to do a deep dive into some comic books that we haven’t yet referenced”. Which comic books are they referring to?
As many fans have already guessed, they most likely are “West Coast Avengers” and “The Vision”. The revel of WandaVision’s new poster holds some hints that make these theories seem more probable.
West Coast Avengers
During an arc of “West Coast Avengers”, specifically in John Byrne’s first storyline, “VisionQuest”, Vision was kidnapped and disassembled by government agencies to prevent him from going rogue again. He was rescued but was resurrected as an emotionless, literally colorless husk of his former self known as “White Vision”. However, it is still unknown whether Vision comes back by rebuild or alternative realities.
Avengers: Endgame establishes set rules for time travel through the Quantum Realm, the most important of which is that you cannot actually change your future by going into the past. The reason for this is that you are entering essentially an alternate timeline, a multiverse, if you will. The stones in Endgame came from a different timeline than the main MCU (it’s what the ancient one was explaining to Bruce)—if they didn’t return the stone, they were dooming her timeline to splinter into something worse. What this also means is that the Mind Stone is gone from the main MCU timeline.
So what better way to get a Mind Stone than to use the multiverse? Let’s say that they choose a timeline where they know the Mind Stone will cease to exist, which means taking it won’t irreparably harm that timeline. Wanda leads the charge on this, consulting with Banner, and Shuri, to make sure it will work.
They get a Mind Stone back and use it to revive Vision, but with one problem: we don’t know how much of Vision was the Mind Stone. From Infinity War, we know Vision is not just the Mind Stone; he is made up of so many different people and himself as well—he’s an independent being. However, we don’t know what experiences Vision had in this alternate timeline—likely very similar ones, but nothing in Endgame established that everything was identical between the alternate timelines.
Based on the concept of the multiverse, there are infinite possibilities. What this means is that our Vision now has another Vision’s Mind Stone and there might be some disagreement in memories, mannerisms, ways of thinking, perhaps a predilection towards lighter-colored clothing, etc.
Vision won’t quite be Vision. We have now created a different form of White Vision, in form of fanfic:
In Shuri’s workshop at the New Avengers HQ, Shuri and Banner are working on Vision, who is laying on a table, with a spider’s web of wires connecting his body to computers. Parts of him are opened up. It’s almost hard to tell where his body ends and Shuri’s equipment begins.
Vision’s eyes open, pupils dilated, an artificial breath is taken. Robotic buzzes and whizzes are heard as more of his body comes online. His robotic arm raises and his eyes meet his hand, turning his palm away from his face, staring at the movement of his hand back and forth.
“He’s up! It worked! I’m awesome!” exclaims Shuri, “We thought we lost you, how do you feel? I told you I could do it, Banner.”
“Are we su— ” Banner begins.
“Feel… Feel… hmm, yes. What a strange concept that is. To feel. Do you know? I do, or… I did. To empathize, sympathize, mourn, rejoice, ahh… to feel. How primitive it is to feel. To be control by internal strife. How limiting. Such a taxing burden it is. To have such limitations placed upon your fragile human psyches, no wonder all you do it create so that you can destroy. A systematic and frail experience of meaning. Destroy. Everything. That’s what you do. Destroy—you, your ecosystems, your friends, even your feelings. Yes, a very taxing burden… Tell me, human, who created me? And how do they feel?“ Vision ominously ponders as he sits upright, studying his body, inch by inch, as more and more functionality is returned to him. “To rid yourselves of this burden would be liberation unlike you’ve ever seen.”
“Uhhh, guys? That’s not sounding like Vision,” warns Banner.
A potential underlying current in WandaVision could be Wanda and Vision trying to reconcile their disconnection: our Wanda isn’t the same Wanda that the new vision of Vision loves and has memories with, and Vision is no longer the man Wanda loves.
Tom King’s “The Vision”
Wanting to have a normal life in the suburbs, Vision builds himself a family. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work out for our synth. There is no real villain other than “humanity”—by that I mean the innate flaws of being human. It is a classic look at what it means to be “human” as told from the point of view of a synthezoid. The whole story can be best described as a “beautiful tragedy.”
Tom King’s The Vision is a psychologically devastating read, with a strong sense of futility and desperation in everything the main characters did.
Will any of this translate into WandaVision? It could be a similar concept, creating a “normal” family, but instead through Wanda’s perspective. Instead of her “creating” her family like Vision did in the comics, it’s going to be either a vision she’s having or set in an alternate reality, with the vision slowly cracking (showing faults) throughout the show.
Wanda’s altering reality, but why?
Wanda is able to make people enter an alternate reality or flashback that is not within their present time. What’s to stop Wanda from doing that to herself?
Lack of acceptance
This has been a common problem with Wanda’s character for a while. She wasn’t able to accept Vision being dead, or that she couldn’t have kids with him. She altered reality multiple times to bring Vision back, have kids with him, and make herself the perfect life back in “House of M”.
Wanda’s unable to cope with everything that’s happened so she’s making a reality that she can accept—one where Vision’s alive, living together in a suburban home, while their kids run around the yard. She could be slightly aware, yet in denial, choosing to blissfully ignore the fact that this reality is not real. Sounds really depressing, yeah, but that’s just how it is.
Adding the Sitcom Genre to the MCU
I might be in the minority here but I am so excited that Marvel’s branching into other genres. Every story will feel fresh and it will show how big this franchise has become, that Marvel now feels they have flexibility to branch out—crime/drama, horror, sitcom. I’m on board and ready to see what they deliver.
I love the idea of the show playing with the tropes of a classic sitcom, adding a psychological tone (e.g. when Wanda starts piecing things out, the audience would boo her, or adding a laugh track at moments it’s not needed, or when something revealing happens and she might find out it’s not real, the television would lose the signal, the words “Technical Difficulties” showing up on the screen. It also happens to be the best way to prepare audiences for the horror tone of Multiverse of Madness.
This is a Disney+ show I wasn’t interested in that much from the start, but now it’s one of the main + shows I’m most excited for on a potential level. The pitch is excellent, unique, and very strong. The characters haven’t been strongly written so far but this seems like it’s really going to change. I can’t wait for a twisted I Love Lucy nightmare world.
WandaVision actually has a meaning beyond just being the protagonists’ names. Wanda grew up watching 1950s sitcoms on an old VHS. Watching these was an escape from traumatized childhood, to a better world.
Shows like I Love Lucy present a very safe, comforting world. One without pain. One full of happiness. She creates a pocket dimension in which she lives in this fantasy world where there is no pain. She likely creates it before Shuri revives Vision. How does she learn how to do this? Chthon—a demonic elder god, covertly helping her to create this alternate reality.
Chthon imbued Wanda at birth with a part of his essence, predicting she would become a great sorceress and become his vessel on Earth. He knew all the 14 million timelines—hence he waited until now to show up.
After Shuri’s restoration of him as “White Vision”, Wanda attempts to give Vision a soul which leads to Chthlon possessing him. Chthon can be sensed by Wanda so he possesses Vision when she is absent, yet the question remains, whether a remnant version of Vision is present within the new restored “White Vision”. It’s possible that Wanda gave Vision a soul when she touched the cradle in Age of Ultron, “he’s dreaming”—meaning the Mind Stone simply sustained the soul that actually came from Wanda.
Going back to what Banner said, “The Mind Stone is a part, not a whole”: Chthon’s intent is to give her a fantasy realm made of her only happy childhood memories—1950s sitcoms—and Vision…and then utterly destroying them and corrupting her.
Wanda’s vision of who she is, of her future, retreats into this past fantasy because she sees no future for herself. Chthon sees a future where she destroys humanity and gives the Earth back to him. Agatha Harkness, an original witch from the Salem witch trials, teaches and empowers Wanda to define her own future and leave behind the human world, embracing her true self and becoming Scarlet Witch.
WandaVision is ultimately Scarlet Witch, the story is about empowerment. Wanda’s journey is about looking within herself, whereas Strange’s journey was about seeing beyond himself.
The inclusion of Vision in the title is pulling double duty: on one hand to represent Vision as a character in the show, and on the other to represent how the show is Wanda’s vision of her more perfect world, especially when you look at the poster and the teaser remake from the D23 Expo.
I just love that we finally get to explore more of Wanda as a character. The possibility that she might make her own alternate reality—where Vision is still alive and they live a happy life in the 50s—fits well with the description of being “very weird and messed up, but mixed with MCU epicness!”