The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been one of, if not the, greatest blockbuster success stories in film history. What started as an idea to build up relatively unknown superheroes like Iron Man and Thor to a crossover team-up in The Avengers has turned into the highest-grossing film series of all-time, all while maintaining a base level of quality that never really produces any outright misses. The series has even been nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, with Black Pantherbeing nominated at the 2019 Awards show.
Still, there have been lingering questions about the future of the series after it appeared to mostly wrap-up with the Avengers: Infinity War/Endgame 2-part epic concluded the main storyline, with Spider-Man: Far From Home serving as a satisfying epilogue to the most recent Phase of the Universe. We all knew that the series would continue, as Scarlett Johansson-vehicle Black Widow and The Eternals had both already been greenlit, but each of these was delayed indefinitely as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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WandaVision Predictions – A Story That is Unique
As a result, the series now has to pick up over a year after its last entry, the longest break since the first Phase of the MCU. And instead of launching with a sure-fire hit film in the form of Black Widow, the series is now starting its 4th Phase with WandaVision, a Disney Plus original “sitcom” starring Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). These are characters who have mostly served as supporting roles in the Avengers films (beginning with Avengers: Age of Ultron), so betting big on them seems like a risk for the studio, especially since Vision died during the events of Infinity War.
But what might have been a leap of faith for other studios has turned into somewhat of an asset for Marvel, as the stark change of pace found in WandaVision has allowed the series to basically divorce itself from the expectations that normally come with MCU content, and tell a story that is unique and specific to the characters in question. WandaVision, perhaps more so than the franchise’s tentpoles, is decidedly obtuse in its presentation, using the styles of various classic sitcoms (ie The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, and The Brady Bunch, thus far) as a means to shock the audience when things get… weird.
And weird they do. The first 3 episodes have mostly been playing it straight in regards to the sitcom bit, but when things do take a turn, the show starts to feel like something out of the David Lynch playbook, with confusing imagery and bizarre breaks, in reality, that hint that something far more sinister is at play in Wanda and Vision’s supposedly idyllic suburban town. These details also serve as references to key comic storylines that could serve as the guidebook for the future of the MCU, with all sorts of implications for its various characters.
(Spoilers for the first 3 episodes of Wandavision, as well as the Marvel Comics Storylines Avengers: Disassembled and House of M follow)
The ‘Disassembled’ Storyline
In 2004, Marvel Comics concluded the long-running Avengers series with the Disassembled storyline, an event that would also kick off the cycle of major events (including Civil War, Secret Invasion, and the like) that would serve as blueprints for the eventual MCU series of films. In the Disassembled storyline, Wanda Maximoff loses her mind as a result of her reality-altering abilities. Wanda creates twin boys for her to mother, as well as a pocket universe for them to occupy, as a means of dealing with the psychological torment that had been building over the decades of comic continuity involving her father, Magneto. When Doctor Strange tries to intervene, she attacks the Avengers Headquarters, killing a few notable teammates, and tearing apart the Avengers from the inside. Wanda then expands her created universe and absorbs the Avengers and X-Men characters into a utopian alternate reality where almost everyone is a superhero, and mutants are accepted and revered by the public.
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We have already seen elements of this storyline play out in the show, as she gave birth to the twins in question (who eventually grow up to be the teen superheroes Speed and Wiccan in the comics) in episode 3. There have also been multiple hints at reality being altered, as both Vision and Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau (a grown-up version of the character from Captain Marvel) appear to know that the world Wanda has made is false. Parris’ character also connects with the post-credits scene of Spider-Man: Far From Home, as she appears to be a member of the intergalactic agency SWORD, the same one Nick Fury is working for at the conclusion of that film. Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes is also rumored to secretly be Agatha Harkness, the witch who teaches Wanda dark magic in the comics. Given what we know about Wanda Maximoff from the films (a trauma-burdened character reeling from the deaths of Vision and Quicksilver, as well as her involvement in the destruction of Johannesburg and Lagos in Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War), could this be Marvel’s way of adapting the now-classic arc from the comics?
Future of MCU
The implications here are clear and far-reaching. The next in-continuity film in the MCU after WandaVision (Black Widow and Eternals will apparently take place earlier in the timeline) is the Sam Raimi-directed Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, starring Benedict Cumberbatch. The film is apparently a dimension-jumping horror film that features Scarlet Witch as a major player, and possibly a villain alongside Chiwetel Ejiofor’s Baron Mordo. This could also be a way for Marvel to introduce the Multiverse, which apparently is a major aspect for the as-yet-untitled third Spider-Man film (which will apparently also feature Tobey McGuire and Andrew Garfield, alongside Tom Holland).
This could also serve as an entry-point for the X-Men characters, including the already-confirmed appearance of Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool in the MCU, given Scarlet Witch’s long history with that corner of the Universe through her father, Magneto. It all remains to be seen, but it’s becoming clear that Marvel seems keen on defying the expectations laid out by the previous MCU films, taking big swings at the weirder and darker corners of the comics’ history. Either way, WandaVision is off to a strong start, and I am very excited to see where things go next.
By Patrick Nash
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