[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for WandaVision Episodes 1 and 2]
Welcome back to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, things are really freaking weird here now! It cannot possibly be stressed enough how hilariously wonderful it is that we have been MCU-less for over a year now, fans are clamoring for more of that sweet Avengers goodness, and our first trip back is…like 95% committed to being a classic sitcom homage, 5% making you uncomfortable with creeping dread. WandaVision is definitely the biggest swing this franchise has taken by anything not involving the words “devil’s anus,” and while there is a lot to appreciate here—the genuinely funny humor! the stellar performances! the Gomez and Morticia Addams level of married horniness radiating off of everything!—there is also very little sense, so far, of what is actually going down in Westview, what/wherever that is.
So, as Collider’s resident WTF-ologist, I’ll be here weekly to walk us through the biggest unanswered theories, queries, and idea-ries. The caveat being, of course, that I also pretty much have no idea what the hell is going on. It’ll be fun. We have fun here. Let’s get into it, starting right up top with:
What the Hell Is Going On?
An extremely fair question! Here is, literally, without editorializing or speculating, exactly what is going on in the first two episodes of WandaVision: Uber-powerful maybe-mutant witch Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and uncomfortably hot artificial intelligence Vision (Paul Bettany) are living in marital bliss styled off the black-and-white sitcoms of the 1950s and 1960s. They’ve moved to a small tight-knit town, Westview, looking to settle down, make a few friends—like their neighbor, Agnes (Kathryn Hahn)—and hide the fact that they’re both superheroes who met while stopping a genocidal computer program from dropping an entire city on Sokovia. It’s lovely. There’s banter and shenanigans. Vision and Wanda push their separate beds together to the shock of your most conservative aunt. At one point, they put on a magic show.
But all is very clearly not what it seems in Westview. During a dinner party, both Vision’s boss (Fred Melamed) and his wife (Debra Jo Rupp) glitch the eff out like a couple of NPCs in Cyberpunk 2077. Bursts of color repeatedly intrude on the town’s black-and-white existence, like a toy helicopter falling from the sky or a splash of red blood on a housewife’s hand. Beekeepers are crawling from the sewers, mysterious voices on the radio reach out to Wanda, and, oh right, episode 2 ends with Wanda miraculously a few months pregnant as the entire world turns to technicolor. This is not, in my experience, what moving to the suburbs is like. The only thing that changes color is a fun little red notice that says “your bank account is severely overdrawn.”
Westview is clearly a construction of some sort, an illusion or mirage or coma dream, but A) To what end? and B) Under whose orders? The only person you can confidently rule out is Vision, who you may remember basically had his brain plucked out of his head in Avengers: Infinity War, killing him instantly. The most tragic option is Wanda, building an artificial bubble for herself where her greatest love is still alive and the world has all the low-stakes problems of an I Love Lucy misunderstanding. In the MCU, Wanda’s vaguely-defined powers have mostly been moving stuff with her mind and changing accents with the greatest of ease. But comics Wanda—the Scarlet freaking Witch—is often portrayed as being able to manipulate reality itself. It’s the cornerstone of the event story House of M, in which Wanda creates a pocket universe where every Avenger and X-Men gets their exact, perfect life, to disastrous consequences. That sounds…vaguely familiar.
However, there are moments throughout WandaVision where Wanda clearly has no idea what the hell is happening here, either, and the show is subtly pointing to the idea that someone is doing this to her. And by subtly, I mean a voice on the radio says “Wanda, who is doing this to you?” (We’re pretty sure that voice belongs to FBI Agent Jimmy Woo, played by the great Randall Park.)
Keen-eyed viewers might already have the answer to that question, which leads us to:
How Is S.W.O.R.D. Involved In All This?
The symbol for S.W.O.R.D. is all over WandaVision. In the grand tradition of Marvel organizations bending over backward for a cool acronym, S.W.O.R.D. stands for Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division. It’s a slight tweak from the comics, where the W stands for “World,” but it could make all the difference. Wanda and Vision are basically the textbook definition of “sentient weapons”; Vision is an android literally birthed by an out-of-control defense system, while Wanda is the result of a HYDRA science experiment under the purview of notoriously not-chill Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. (Keep that name in mind!) While S.W.O.R.D. has typically been “S.H.I.E.L.D. but for outer space,” here it appears to be repurposed for keeping tabs on any superhumans doing sketchy superhuman shit, i.e. reconstructing the Dick van Dyke set to raise your robot lover from the dead. So the question becomes, is S.W.O.R.D. just here to monitor—see: that unnamed figure at the end of episode 1 taking detailed notes like I do for Cheers whenever I spiral—or is this an active experiment? Again, is something being done to Wanda?
The thing is, S.W.O.R.D. has a long history of both sketchiness and being compromised with a hilarious level of ease. There is an entire comics story where a Skrull blows up their space station disguised as Dum Dum Dugan, owner of the least stealthy mustache in the history of facial hair. You’ll also recall that, within the MCU, S.W.O.R.D.’s sister organization S.H.I.E.L.D. had been infiltrated by HYDRA for decades, largely thanks to sleeper agent…Wolfgang von Strucker. Like the S.W.O.R.D. symbol, Strucker’s shadow is all over WandaVision, both because of his ties to Wanda herself and an actual name-drop during episode 2’s in-story commercial. In the MCU, Strucker is super dead, having been absolutely bodied by Ultron in a holding cell. But his death did split HYDRA into a few loose factions, which brings to mind…this:
Is Freaking A.I.M. Involved??
Well, what that is, on the surface, is a man in a beekeeper uniform with a S.W.O.R.D. symbol on the back climbing out of a sewer within a simulation of a 1960s sitcom. Not a ton to go on there. But when you think of Marvel + bees, you think of one of two things: 1) Swarm, the Spider-Man villain whose body is composed of hundreds upon thousands of bees. Swarm is probably not a part of WandaVision. Apologies to the Swarm Hive.
Or, 2) Advanced Idea Mechanics.
In the comics, A.I.M. was created by, you guessed it, Wolfgang von Strucker as an offshoot of HYDRA, sort of like their science division, who sought to take over the world but mostly just created a giant tuna can-looking supervillain with stubby little legs named M.O.D.O.K. (Acronyms!) More notably, the agents of A.I.M. historically dress, for reasons unexplained, kind of exactly like beekeepers. Of course, we’ve seen A.I.M. in the MCU before, in Iron Man 3, created instead by Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), the scientist who declared himself to be the real Mandarin and then breathed fire like a dragon before falling to his death. The status of the organization is extremely up in the air after that, but if there’s an opportunity to poke around in the head of a super-powered android and a HYDRA-created witch? Yeah, A.I.M. would be all over that. If WandaVision would like to gently start introducing M.O.D.O.K. into the MCU, I’ll start its Emmy campaign right now.
So Who’s Side is “Geraldine” On?
During a planning committee meeting run by the physical embodiment of passive-aggression, Wanda meets a fellow Westview resident who introduces herself as “Geraldine,” immediately marking this character as a lying liar who lies. As we’ve known for months, Teyonah Parris is actually playing Monica Rambeau, a name that should sound mighty familiar to anyone who saw Captain Marvel. Monica is the daughter of Maria Rambeau,
love interest for anyone paying attention best friend to Carol Danvers. The last we saw Monica, she was an eleven-year-old girl watching Auntie Carol blast off into space and telling Nick Fury’s doubting ass that she would build a spaceship and follow her one day.
A big part of Monica’s role in WandaVision probably hinges on what her life has been like between Captain Marvel and now. Look closely at the recently-released featurette and you’ll see that Monica is, in fact, an Agent of S.W.O.R.D., meaning she’s more than likely an accomplice to whatever the hell is happening here. But she’s also playing right along with the bit, enabling Wanda’s illusion that this is real life. She literally cheers Wanda on as she receives a “Comedy Performance of the Year” award inside her own dang head, the most relatable thing a superhero has ever done. So what’s Monica’s goal here? Helping Wanda get out of the illusion…or keeping her in? Two episodes in and WandaVision, much like an android magician drunk on Big Red gum, isn’t quite ready to reveal its secrets.
WandaVision Episodes 1 and 2 are now available to stream on Disney+. New episodes will be released every Friday. For more, check out our breakdown of every WandaVision in-episode commercial.
“He’ll make time for you.”
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