What all those fake commercials in ‘WandaVision’ are really telling us
This story contains spoilers for “WandaVision.”
Don’t touch that dial: “WandaVision’s” commercials are anything but product placement — they’ve been dropping clues about the truth of the show from the start.
Despite its cheery sitcom trappings, it’s been clear since the Disney+ original series premiered in January that all is not what it seems in the leafy suburb of Westview. It turns out that Wanda, racked by the grief of losing Vision, created a version of the life she’d always dreamed of in the place intended to be the couple’s future home.
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Each of the sitcom-inspired episodes of “WandaVision” has included commercials alluding to past events from the Marvel Cinematic Universe or hinting at ideas from Marvel comic books. (That these clues come in the form of commercials is a little suspect, though. Wanda’s exposure to TV sitcoms seems to have come predominantly from DVD boxed sets, which generally don’t involve commercial breaks.)
All signs point to a big showdown and new revelations in Friday’s “WandaVision” finale. Until then, here’s a breakdown of the key references contained in each of the show’s fake commercials.
In Marvel’s “WandaVision,” nothing is as it seems. So we prepared an episode-by-episode guide to the Disney+ series for you to keep handy as you watch.
Episode 1: ToastMate 2000
Slogan: Forget the past, this is your future
The commercial that airs during “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” is for the ToastMate 2000, a top-of-the-line toaster made by Stark Industries. That the product is a toaster could be a nod to Vision — he has been referred to as a talking toaster in the comics — but its manufacturer is the more important detail.
Wanda and Pietro first crossed paths with the Avengers in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015) — as their enemies. This was because the twins held Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man, responsible for the death of their parents, who were killed by weapons manufactured by Stark Industries. (This led them on the path to join Hydra, a secret organization trying to overthrow governments and control the world.)
“WandaVision” Episode 8 revisits that tragic night and shows the Stark-branded rocket that lands in the Maximoff’s home. And the explosive’s beeping, flashing light is just like the one on the ToastMate 2000.
The slogan “forget the past, this is your future” is basically Wanda’s superhero life story. In a sense, she had to forget her grudge against Stark to work with him and the Avengers. It also seems to describe her situation in Westview.
Episode 2: Strücker
Slogan: Strücker: He’ll make time for you
A commercial for a Strücker wristwatch airs during “Don’t Touch That Dial,” and it’s another clear reference to Wanda’s past.
Strücker is the name of the Hydra scientist who conducted the experiments that awakened Wanda and Pietro’s powers. The watch‘s face even features the skull-with-tentacles Hydra logo.
It’s another event revisited in “WandaVision” Episode 8, showing experiments that were merely teased in the introduction of Wanda and Pietro to the MCU. (The twins were first seen in a mid-credits scene during 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”)
Wanda and her brother volunteered for Baron Strücker’s experiments involving Loki’s scepter, which housed the Mind Stone — the catalyst that triggered her powers. Considering that Wanda and Pietro were essentially the only survivors of the procedure, Strücker definitely had time for them.
Episode 3: Hydra Soak
Slogan: Hydra Soak: Find the goddess within!
Hydra is referred to again in the commercial during “Now in Color.” This time, the product is a luxury bath powder called Hydra Soak that can help you “escape to a world all your own,” which sounds a lot like what Wanda has been doing in Westview.
The woman in the commercial saying “you read my mind” also serves as a casual reminder of Wanda’s powers, which include reading and manipulating people’s minds.
After Agatha’s snooping in Episode 8 puts Wanda’s powers in a new context, “find the goddess within” also takes on a new meaning. It appears that Wanda’s powers have always been inside her; Hydra’s prodding just helped unleash it. The line could also be reference to the figure — whose silhouette matches that of the comic book Scarlet Witch — Wanda sees within the light of the Mind Stone during that flashback.
Episode 4: None
“We Interrupt This Program” catches viewers up with what has been happening outside Westview city limits, so no commercial.
Episode 5: Lagos paper towels
Slogan: Lagos: For when you make a mess you didn’t mean to
The commercials are back with “On a Very Special Episode…,” and Lagos brand paper towels once again put the spotlight on a significant event in Wanda’s past.
In “Captain America: Civil War” (2016), the Avengers — including Wanda — track mercenaries in Lagos, Nigeria, who are attempting to steal a biological weapon. The leader of the group has a grudge against Captain America, so he attempts to take the hero out by blowing himself up when Cap catches up with him.
Wanda uses her powers to temporarily contain the blast and hurls the villain into the air, where the explosion hits a building full of civilian bystanders. Wanda is devastated.
On top of the casualties, one consequence of the events in Lagos is the Sokovia Accords, which world governments draft to demand that the Avengers be allowed to operate only under the supervision of an international panel. This leads to the messy rift between Captain America and Iron Man that splits the team apart, with Wanda and the Vision on opposing sides.
Episode 6: Yo-Magic
Tagline: Yo-Magic: The snack for survivors
Because the previous commercials have pointed to key moments in Wanda’s past, it’s easy to assume the one in “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” does the same. But the ad for Yo-Magic yogurt is not as straightforward.
It’s a pretty ominous commercial: A child stranded on an island is given a snack by a shark, only to waste away into a skeleton because he is unable to open the package. The kid could be seen as a stand-in for Wanda and her isolation: if the island is a metaphor for Westview, she’s in deep trouble.
But after the glimpse of 1693 Salem shown in Episode 8, it seems more likely that this commercial is about Agatha.
A flashback shows Agatha being restrained by her coven and facing accusations that she’s been practicing dark, forbidden magic. But things take a turn when the surrounding witches attack Agatha with magic. Instead of being hurt by the blasts, Agatha starts to absorb the other witches’ magical energy, which leaves the other women as withered corpses.
It appears that Agatha survived the ordeal by snacking on their magic. Could this be what she has planned for Wanda?
Episode 7: Nexus
Tagline: Nexus: Because the world doesn’t revolve around you. Or does it?
The commercial for the antidepressant Nexus during “Breaking the Fourth Wall” appears to bring the focus back to Wanda.
The woman in the ad is “feeling depressed [and] like the world goes on without [her],” which describes what Wanda is going through in the series. And according to the commercial, Nexus “works to anchor you back to your reality — or the reality of your choice.”
In Marvel comics, the Nexus of All Realities is a mystical gateway that links every dimension that exists. Because “WandaVision” is setting up elements of the forthcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” it would not be surprising if the series introduces something similar to the MCU.
In fact, the Scarlet Witch in the comics is one of the rare individuals known as a Nexus Being. As explained to Agatha in a 1990 issue of “West Coast Avengers,” this means the Scarlet Witch is “one who belongs equally to all possible timelines — all realities and divergencies.” Basically, comic book Wanda is a uniquely powerful figure in her reality who affects the stability of the multiverse.
Perhaps the season finale of “WandaVision” will reveal that reality does revolve around Wanda.
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