Marvel’s Disney+ commercial from the Super Bowl is a loaded few seconds. The stuff shown from Falcon and the Winter Soldier is relatively the most straightforward. The brief stinger for Loki asks a lot of questions. But the true highlight of the ad is WandaVision, starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. Even though it shows just as much footage as Falcon and the Winter Soldier, there’s far more head-scratchery in what we see and, more than the other two shows, it has potential for the biggest fallout for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Of course, if you haven’t seen it already, watch the trailer.
It isn’t enough that Vision is alive or that Scarlet Witch and Vision are living in various sitcom-like realities. And it’s not seeing the comic-accurate Scarlet Witch costume. Not even Vision’s swanky fashion, taken directly from his Tom King/Gabriel Hernandez Walta solo series. It’s the fact that one shot makes Wanda Maximoff seem pregnant and then she’s acting surprised in front of two cribs.
Seeing Wanda and Vision in front of two cribs is just as ominous a tell as when we first saw Thanos or when the Collector namedropped “Infinity Stones.” This could very well be the next step in something bad hitting the MCU.
Now, in the movies, Wanda’s powers have ranged from telekinesis to mind-manipulation. In the comics, it’s a bit more complex. She started out able to control probability. Like if you flip a coin, she can make it more likely of landing heads-up than just 50%. Just how much depended on the writer and that led to some interesting questions and directions about her powers. Comic book superhero stories make the impossible possible, but how much is too impossible?
For instance, Wanda and Vision did get married in the comics and we, as comic readers, are fully able to accept that Vision – basically an advanced robot – is capable of love and other emotions. He’s based on the technology of Jim Hammond, the original Human Torch, and is essentially a synthetic human being. But HOW synthetic? More specifically, can he procreate? Does Vision have sperm? Does it work?
When writing Avengers stuff in the 1980s, Steve Engelhart decided that, yes, such a thing is possible if Wanda uses enough hex magic to beat the odds. Wanda and Vision settled down and started raising their twin sons Thomas and William. Things were happy…for a brief time.
At some point, Vision stepped a bit over the line in his attempts to better the world and went full-on SkyNet. He was stopped and in doing so, was broken down and rebuilt without his previous personality. More disturbing was that the autopsy showed that Vision wasn’t genetically equipped in the way people originally thought and he wasn’t as advanced as Jim Hammond after all. In other words, writer John Byrne didn’t like the concept of Vision being capable of putting a bun in the oven, no matter how much Scarlet Witch upped the probability. Her having Vision’s children was simply impossible.
So then…what were her children? The actual explanation is too bonkers for me to fully get into (God, I hope Immortus never shows up in the MCU), but the gist of it is that Thomas and William were not so much actual babies, but lost pieces of a soul that Wanda summoned. These soul shards belonged to the villain Master Pandemonium. Pandemonium’s power is that he has monsters for hands and, in this case, he had fire-breathing babies for hands.
Guys, the MCU in 2020 might actually give us demonic baby hands. Oh my God.
Naturally, Pandemonium was defeated and all, but all these plot twists did some real damage on Wanda’s psyche. She had a brief run as a psychotic villainess, but ultimately had her memories of Thomas and William removed so she could go back to being a regular member of the Avengers. That too lasted a while and she even rekindled her relationship with Vision for a time.
Then the shit hit the fan. A casual discussion with an intoxicated Wasp unlocked the memories of the whole baby episode. By this point, Wanda had been dabbling in “chaos magic,” which was increasing her powers to reality-altering levels. Having the ability to change reality while not being mentally well were not a great combination. Not only did she secretly summon her “sons” to live in her quarters, but she decided to take revenge on the Avengers (who would take her “children” away if given the chance) by conjuring inexplicable and contrived threats and situations that ended up killing several of them.
This story, Avengers Disassembled, was pretty major for being the beginning of Brian Michael Bendis’ legendary run on the Avengers books, where the team’s adventures became the true backbone to the Marvel Universe. The team was reborn with the likes of Spider-Man and Wolverine among others while leading towards such major stories as Civil War, Secret Invasion, and Siege.
During this era, Wanda returned as a major threat in the event House of M, where she rebuilt reality completely into a world where mutants ruled over humans and her family was royalty. This included her sons, rumored to be the children of Wonder Man. During the climax, she acted out against her father Magneto and tearfully wished for, “No more mutants.” In the aftermath, reality returned to normal, except with all but a few hundred mutants left with their powers.
Something to keep in mind when it’s time to introduce mutants into the MCU. Maybe Wanda’s breakdown will somehow bring us opposite results.
Over time, Marvel loosened up on Wanda’s villainy and returned her to the status quo. Well, except for getting back with Vision. Although he was brought back, he didn’t take kindly to her Disassembled actions and wanted nothing to do with her. The real interesting development was the return of their children.
After the events of Disassembled, when the Avengers had disbanded for several months, a team of Young Avengers came together. One member was the magic-using Billy Kaplan, known as Wiccan (formerly called Asgardian). During the team’s adventures, they came across Tommy Shepard, codename Speed. Not only did Billy realize that Tommy was his long-lost twin brother, but it became apparent that they were also the reincarnated souls of Wanda’s children.
I…don’t have answers for how that works. Even Wanda isn’t sure. Did her powers cause them to be born in the past? Did their souls take over existing bodies? No idea. But hey, her kids are real and aged a decade and a half. Go figure.
The MCU borrows ideas from major events, but rarely ever goes word-for-word. Will we really get demon baby hands and a couple Young Avengers out of it? Probably not. But thematically, the pieces are starting to land. Vision was dead. Now the Avenger with ill-explained powers is living with him in a reality that doesn’t seem stable. The same Avenger who will star in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shortly after WandaVision wraps up.
She’s one of the few heroes who could take on Thanos one-on-one. God save the rest from what she’s about to unleash.