Marvel Comics and the current state of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), provide a bounty of content to satisfy society’s bottomless hunger for entertainment. With the bulk of meaty storylines behind us (Civil War, Infinity War, Endgame), Marvel and Disney+ will lean heavily on their plans for spin-off series, especially considering the unclear and unstable future for event movies that rely on theaters for release.
First in line is WandaVision, Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda) and Paul Bettany (Vision) reprise their roles they played in most of the Avenger-specific films. The last time we saw the happy couple was in the Infinity War story. Vision begged Wanda to blow up the Mind Stone lodged in his forehead. Destroying the stone would kill him before Thanos could take it for himself and complete the Infinity Gauntlet. Wanda was sorrowfully successful, however Thanos utilized the Time Stone to bring Vision back so he could remove the Mind Stone with his bare hands.
Knowing this information presents a curious case of mystery for what is actually taking place. The show’s clear strength is in its “closed curtain” strategy of storytelling, despite dedicated comic book historians littering the Internet with their own plot hypotheses. If Vision is dead does WandaVision take place before the events of Infinity War? Highly unlikely considering Vision and Wanda meet in the Age of Ultron story: Vision’s first physical actualizing and Wanda’s first appearance in the MCU storyline. Wanda and Vision are happily together in a fictional town of Westview. There is some kind of fabrication taking place in their happy-go-lucky suburban lifestyle. It’s presented in the style of classic sitcoms to exaggerate the perfection of their lives. A diverse palate of style nods to I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Donna Reed Show, The Patty Duke Show, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, The Partridge Family, and even a subtle reference to Julia. The sitcom motif seems appropriate if their reality is an illusion; a revisit of the material in some of these sitcoms could provoke a cozy sense of nostalgia for some, and a disturbing exaggeration of reality for others. Episode four suggests, almost explicitly, Wanda seems to be creating a reality cushier than her own.
In the conclusion of the second episode, Wanda and Vision are drawn outside by a noise. They discover a “beekeeper” (an agent of S.W.O.R.D. attempting a reconnaissance mission of Westview) appearing through a manhole. Wanda says “No” out loud and the sequence rewinds: (a fitting action considering the obsoletion of rewinding) the happy couple enjoy a romantic embrace and a joyful realization of Wanda’s pregnancy. Instead of spoiling the illusion, Wanda gets a happy ending. Similarly, in episode three, Vision is in mid-speech, about to pull back the curtain explaining that something is wrong. The music swells and the scene immediately cut back to just before Vision starts to pontificate. It is replaced with a cute moment (cue studio audience “Aw!”) and a punchline on the running joke of disagreeing on their child’s name. Wanda would rather “go back to the way it was,” than she would face her own pain. The most impactful moment of this is in the end of the same episode.
Wanda has finally given birth to twins with the help of her neighbor, Geraldine (excellently played by Teyonah Parris). Previous episodes seemed to hint Geraldine knew more than she was letting on and this was finally made clear. The fact that Wanda gave birth to twins means she is slipping back to present day. Wanda states she was also a twin, almost as if she is remembering. She begins singing a Sokovian lullaby to her newborn children, keeping her memories at bay. Geraldine (revealed to be Monica Rambeau, another agent of S.W.O.R.D.) breaks the moment and asks about Pietro being murdered by Ultron. Wanda, clearly upset, demands Geraldine explain how she knows about Wanda’s past.
Simultaneously, Vision is having a strange conversation with the other neighbors: nosy Agnes (another flawless performance from Kathryn Hahn) and Herb (David Payton) about Geraldine and her place in Westview. These moments together feel like Wanda is directly fighting against the invasion of her mind, and enlisting the residents join the fight. When Vision comes back inside to also confront Geraldine, she is gone and Wanda quickly dismisses her disappearance to stay rooted in the cozy family life she desperately wants to believe is real. It isn’t until episode four that we see Wanda invoke her powers to remove Monica: suggesting Wanda is more than aware of the choices she is making to suppress her agony. Her efforts are waning thin, though, as she shakes off seeing Vision’s ghostly face and cratered forehead from Thanos brutally removing the Mind Stone.
The mysterious nature of Westview will, most likely, begin to crumble in the next few episodes. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings also reprising a role from the Thor films) and Jimmy Woo’s (the delightful Randall Park) surveillance operation of Wanda’s creation began to pull the curtain back and tie the loose knots of her newfound happy suburban life. Without any true comic book expertise, I predict the observers will attempt to manipulate the observed. The S.W.O.R.D. team will attempt to directly send in some kind of physical threat, or force one from within Westview. The reasoning would be to draw out Wanda’s powers in front of her loyal army of co-residents to further shatter the illusion.