What the heck is going on in ‘WandaVision’? These comic book storylines might explain
This story contains spoilers from the first two episodes of “WandaVision.”
In the final moments of “WandaVision’s” second episode, Wanda turns to Vision and asks, “Is this really happening?”
It’s almost as if she’s channeling the audience.
Ever since the earliest footage of the Disney+ series was released, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been keen on solving the mystery behind how and why Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are living as newlyweds in the suburbs through various eras of television sitcoms.
The first TV series from Marvel Studios, “WandaVision” kicks off the MCU’s phase 4 plans. As expected, the spoiler-averse franchise has kept its cards close to its chest, so not much was revealed about the series before Friday’s premiere, other than the fact that it’s set after the events of 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame.” How Vision — who was killed (twice) during the events of 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War” — is back in action has yet to be addressed.
Still, “the launching point for this show is this relationship between Wanda and Vision,” said director Matt Shakman, describing the central couple as “an unlikely pairing that you root for.”
According to Shakman, he and head writer Jac Schaeffer “read everything … that’s out there about these characters” to prepare for the series.
“We were excited to create something new that built on everything that had come before in the same way that all of those great comic books that had been created were building on what had come before them,” said Shakman. “The MCU, I think, up to this point, has done a really wonderful job of reinventing — they haven’t adapted any one comic book absolutely directly. They’ve created new versions, and they stand alone like new comic issues. That’s what we were trying to do here.”
With nods to “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Brady Bunch” and more, the Disney+ series is the rare Marvel property where humor is more than just decoration.
‘House of M’
It’s clear from the very first episode that not everything is as it seems. And while “WandaVision” is not a direct adaptation of a specific comic book series, there are storylines involving Wanda, a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch, and Vision that could help explain what seems to be happening on the show.
From a wine label that reads “Maison du Mépris” (House of Contempt) to the visible reality bending that occurs in the episodes, “WandaVision” appears to channel elements of Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel’s 2005 limited series “House of M.”
The eight-issue comic book limited series arc features a grief-stricken Wanda, who uses her powers to warp reality and create a new world where people are living out their dreams. Wanda has long been established as a character whose greatest wish is to have a family with kids, something she almost attained with Vision in comic books published in the ’80s.
Both the Scarlet Witch and Vision made their comic book debut in the 1960s, and they’ve had to overcome plenty of tragedy over the years. The Scarlet Witch first appeared in the pages of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby’s “The X-Men,” working for the villain Magneto. Although elements of her backstory, parentage and the origins of her powers have been remixed a number of times over the years, she’s generally understood to have enhanced abilities and training in magic.
Vision first appeared in an issue of Roy Thomas and John Buscema’s “Avengers.” In the comics he is a synthezoid created by Ultron — yes, another villain — who overcomes his programming and becomes a hero. Although he’s basically a robot, he has human thoughts and feelings because his brain patterns are from a human superhero. In true comic book superhero fashion, he’s been killed and revived multiple times.
Wanda and Vision fell in love as they fought alongside each other as Avengers. Despite obstacles such as disapproving family members and jealous teammates, the couple gets married and even moves out to the suburbs (more than once).
Wanda gets magically pregnant and gives birth to twins in the “Vision and the Scarlet Witch” series that ran from 1985-1986. But just a few years later in an “Avengers West Coast” storyline, she loses them — they were never real in the first place, it turns out — while trying to salvage her relationship with Vision, who was destroyed and rebuilt without a way to access his past human emotions. The loss of her kids is significant for the “House of M” series.
The Times TV team selects the 15 shows we’ll be watching when they premiere or return in 2021.
Leading up to the events of “House of M,” Wanda destroys the Avengers and a number of members are killed, including Vision. While X-Men — and the very idea of mutants — have yet to be officially introduced to the MCU at that point, Wanda’s decisions in “House of M” have major repercussions for the mutant population on Earth. Her actions have been attributed both to her suffering a mental breakdown and to being mind controlled. For now, either could explain what is happening in “WandaVision.”
What is clear so far in the Disney+ show is that Wanda and Vision’s sitcom life is being observed by an entity known as S.W.O.R.D. In the comics, S.W.O.R.D. stands for “Sentient World Observation and Response Department” and is basically an space-based organization monitoring for threats from outside of Earth. (The clearest hint pointing to the existence of the agency within the MCU prior to this show was in the “Spider-Man: Far From Home” post-credits scene).
In “WandaVision,” it is revealed that S.W.O.R.D. is actually the “Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division.” This seems to imply that Wanda is a sentient weapon in need of observation. It’s understandable that an agency would want to keep an eye on Wanda if she indeed is manifesting her powers to alter reality, but S.W.O.R.D.'s aims are unknown.
It’s still too early to decipher “WandaVision’s” secrets, but these storylines will provide guideposts to start with anytime you feel lost.
The complete guide to home viewing
Get Screen Gab for weekly recommendations, analysis, interviews and irreverent discussion of the TV and streaming movies everyone’s talking about.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.