By the end of 2020, the Marvel Cinematic Universe had started to feel a bit…stale. Part of what makes the superhero genre so universally captivating is its capacity to go where other mediums can’t. But by the end of Avengers: Endgame, the MCU was closing the door on a chapter that, no matter how wildly successful, had followed a series of predictable patterns. While that doesn’t make watching Tony Stark save the world any less satisfying, it does make it less nerdy. And no matter how mainstream superheroes get, there’s always a part of the genre that deserves its place in the realm of the geek, where fan-fueled calculus thrives.
Now, with the explosion of new MCU series rolling out on Disney+ (at least four by the end of 2021), the superhero empire is reigniting fan theory fervor. When WandaVision premiered on January 15, the sitcom-turned-horror-show experiment heralded a bold new path for comic-book narratives. Turns out, superheroes can make for pretty hilarious sitcoms! But, most importantly, WandaVision—at least initially—seems intent on not spoon-feeding fans the same exact story they’ve seen before. Which means, of course, that the fan theory machine is running hot.
WandaVision takes place after Endgame, and it stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as a delightfully well-matched Wanda Maximoff and Vision, basking in newlywed bliss in the quaint 1950s-era suburb of Westview. They don’t exactly know how they got here, or what they’re doing in a sitcom show. But they roll with it, moving through the decades in Marvel-ized versions of The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, The Brady Bunch, and Malcolm in the Middle. But increasingly, Vision gets the sense not all is right in their cookie-cutter suburb.
New episodes drop every Friday, and as the puzzle pieces come together, we’re gathering the best fan theories from around the internet. Here, we’ll try to make sense of what’s happening to Wanda—and why it matters for the next phase of Marvel stories.
Warning: Major spoilers follow.
As of February 26, we’ve made it: We’ve finally reached the penultimate episode of WandaVision, and with it come numerous revelations—some that confirm previous theories, and others that tear them to threads. If you’re still reeling from episode 8, “Previously On,” we’re right there with you, weeping and blubbering and holding your hand. Anyway, let’s sort through what we know, and what we still suspect.
Theory #1: WandaVision is a spin on the comics arc House of M. (Confirmed.)
If you’ve spent any time digging around Marvel fan forums, you’ve probably already stumbled on this theory, and after episode 8, it’s confirmed.
Some quick background: In 2005, Marvel Comics released a storyline called House of M, written by comics legend Brian Michael Bendis, in which an insane Scarlet Witch (aka Wanda Maximoff) has a mental breakdown and attempts to recreate the universe. You see, she’s lost her two children, Billy and Tommy (sound familiar?), as well as her grip on reality. The other Avengers and X-Men (in the comics, Wanda is a mutant) realize they must consider killing Wanda, because her reality-shaping powers pose an enormous threat to humanity if she cannot recover her sanity. (Again, we’re seeing several hints of this attitude in WandaVision.)
Hearing the news of her pending execution, Wanda manifests a new world, an almost-perfect utopia where her children are alive, her superhero teammates are happy, and mutants rule the world. But it’s a dangerous lie, and when Wanda realizes what she’s done, she decides the solution is to rid the world of mutants like her. (You might have seen a comic panel circulating of Wanda whispering, “No more mutants.” It’s very meme-able.) At that point, the majority of the mutant population lose their powers.
WandaVision can’t and won’t mirror House of M exactly because, at this point in the MCU, the X-Men and Avengers’ worlds have not yet collided. But we do know after episode 8 that Wanda did indeed manifest Westview entirely of her own ability, and her power came from grief. If you remember the events of Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, you’ll recall that Wanda is forced to kill Vision while extracting an Infinity Stone from his forehead, then watch him die again when Thanos brings him back to life and kills him…again. Vision does not return to life in Endgame, but Wanda does confront Thanos and tell him, “You took everything from me.” So we know WandaVision is drawing on House of M for inspiration. But we’re only just now learning how much.
Theory #2: Agnes is really Agatha Harkness. (Confirmed.)
Fans have been calling this since the pilot, and their patience was finally rewarded during episode 7, “Breaking The Fourth Wall.” Agnes is Agatha Harkness.
If you need a recap before we get into the meaty comic lore, here’s what to remember: You first met Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), Wanda and Vision’s deliciously wry neighbor, in the WandaVision pilot. She appears in Wanda’s sitcom life more often than any of the other Westview residents, and she seems much more aware of her trope-stuffed life than Norm, Mr. Hart, and the others. Near the end of episode 6, Vision discovers her at the turn-off for Ellis Avenue, mere minutes after Wanda instructed her children not to venture past the exact same street. With her witch’s hat and poor sense of direction, Agnes looks completely unsettled—and yet eerily purposeful.
Prior to stumbling upon Agnes, Vision had made the unpleasant discovery that, ostensibly, Wanda is only controlling a certain radius within Westview at any given time. The rest of the families are frozen—though still self-aware, if we’re to judge by the woman stuck hooking her laundry on a line while a tear rolls down her cheek. When Vision attempts to make contact with these icicles, they have no ability to respond.
At Ellis, Agnes is also seemingly stuck, though conscious enough to move and speak—which immediately signals something different about her. Frustrated by all the unanswered questions, Vision mind-zaps her. Agnes breaks out of her trance and stares at him: “You’re one of the Avengers! You’re Vision! Are you here to help us?” She then reminds him several times that he’s dead, and begins to cackle like…well, a witch. Let’s go ahead and call that foreshadowing.
In episode 7, we watch her play babysitter to Billy and Tommy at her unusually ornate home. (Anyone who isn’t getting witch vibes at this point just hasn’t been paying attention.) She tosses out some zingers about how Wanda is “cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs” but keeps her act strictly Modern Family…until the end of the episode, when Wanda stumbles into her basement dungeon/temple/lair. Agnes wanders in and cackles, “You didn’t think you were the only magical girl in town, did you? The name’s Agatha Harkness. Lovely to finally meet you, dear!”
But Agatha really gets her time to shine in episode 8. In “Previously On,” we learn Harkness was once part of a witch coven in Salem, Massachusetts in 1693, but her lack of control concerned her fellow coven-ettes. They attempt to cuff her and, ostensibly, kill her, but she overpowers them, kills them instead—including her own mother—and scampers off into the distance. Centuries later, she’s drawn to Wanda’s power when she sniffs it out in Westview, and she demands to know how Wanda orchestrated such a terrible feat: “magic on autopilot.” The problem is, Wanda doesn’t really know.
Much of this origin story matches the Marvel comics, in which Harkness is an old (like, was-alive-before-the-sinking-of-Atlantis old) witch who escaped the Salem Witch Trials and went on to master mystical arts, later teaching them to a young Wanda Maximoff. In other points throughout the comics, she serves as Wanda’s antagonist, and she’s also the one who, after Wanda gives birth to twins Billy and Tommy, reveals to the Scarlet Witch that her children are not, in fact, hers, but were born of more demonic origins. We don’t need to unpack all of that, but the point stands that both the television and comics versions of Agatha want something from Wanda. It’s unlikely she’ll stop until she gets it.
Theory #3: Wanda is the show’s villain. Sort of. (Confirmed.)
Episode 8 entirely shifted my assumptions about Wanda’s role in Westview. I was originally under the impression an outside power must be forcing her hand. But “Previously On” reveals Wanda herself created—and controls—all of the anomaly.
She knows there’s another world beyond Westview where her brother lived and died, and where Vision similarly lived and died. And she would prefer to stay in her sitcom world. Anything—or anyone—who seeks to threaten her fake reality is…well, removable. To keep the world outside at bay, she’s set up a barrier wall (the “Hex”) in New Jersey, and it’s apparently expandable: At the end of episode 6, she uses it to swallow up the majority of the S.W.O.R.D (Sentient World Observation and Response Department) agents threatening her game of make-believe.
Many fans assumed, after episode 7, that Agatha was contributing to the anomaly. And that still might be true, to some degree. Here’s why: Wanda intentionally disregarding human life for her own gain seems disingenuous. As episode 8 reveals, Wanda is tortured by her own grief, by all the trauma she’s repeatedly endured. She doesn’t want to hurt anyone else. She blames herself for much of the hurt that’s already been done. (Remember, in episode 5, Monica tells S.W.O.R.D.’s Director Hayward, “I don’t believe this was a premeditated act of aggression.”) That said, Wanda’s grieving and desperate, and we all know what they say about desperate people.
Wanda tells her brother, Fake-Pietro (Evan Peters), in episode 6 that she doesn’t remember how the Westview anomaly first started. In the wake of Avengers: Endgame, she only remembers grief and emptiness. On top of that, she’s aware the moral quandaries around her Westview-puppeteering are sticky—she expresses as much to Pietro. And episode 8 reveals the exact moment in which Wanda creates the Hex. She draws it forth in a sudden burst of emotion, almost as if she had no choice in the matter. Her “transmutation,” as Agatha describes it, is completely spontaneous.
So it’s possible Wanda’s not intentionally harming Westview or its residents. But now that it’s happened, she doesn’t know how to stop it without losing the thing she desires most: a life with Vision.
Theory #4: The creepy post-credits Vision is up to no good.
Marvel is infamous for its post-credits scenes, so when the first few episodes of WandaVision unveiled no last-minute bombshells, fans were disheartened. Marvel is also infamous for playing tricks on its audience, so we really shouldn’t be shocked the big wigs tucked one of the most important scenes of the show in the middle of episode 8’s credits.
During said scene, we watch the nefarious S.W.O.R.D. Director Hayward reveal his Frankenstein Monster: an all-white version of Vision, apparently engineered from the real Vision’s remains and fueled by a bit of Wanda’s stray chaos magic. On one hand, it’s a relief to know Wanda is not a necrophiliac living out her suburban utopia with a corpse. On the other hand, it’s pretty gross to know Hayward, apparently, has no problem dipping into the morgue for inspiration.
Still, it’s obvious this White Vision is not actually Vision. For one thing, there’s no Mind Stone slotted into his forehead. He’s also all-white, signaling a “blank slate.” And that dead luminescent stare is definitely meant to trigger our Terminator alarms. He must be a weapon, much like Ultron, and some fans think he might even be a reincarnation of Ultron.
Either way, we can expect White Vision to be a baddie, at least initially. But Reddit user Fearless512 pointed out an interesting possible conclusion to The Battle For Westview: What if Wanda’s chaos magic is able to fuse her reincarnation of Vision with the body of White Vision? Might that actually bring the real Vision back to life, in a way that could sustain him outside the Hex? Either way, better brace yourselves for one hell of a finale.
Theory #5: The Mind Stone gave Wanda its power as a way of perpetuating its existence.
Another fascinating moment in “Previously On” is the big reveal that Wanda had powers before Baron Wolfgang von Strucker experimented on her and Pietro. When the Stark Industries bomb lands near her and Pietro as children, she inadvertently employs a “probability hex” to keep it from going off, thus protecting her and her brother for the three days of ensuing violence. Keep in mind, this is ostensibly years before Wanda ever comes in contact with an Infinity Stone. That means she was born either a mutant or a witch—or some combination of both. When she’s radicalized following the death of her parents, that’s when she volunteers for Strucker’s experiments and is presented with an Infinity Stone.
I’ve got to admit, might be one of my all-time favorite Marvel scenes. The Infinity Stone opens itself up to Wanda, revealing itself to her as the Mind Stone. She touches it and it explodes, sending forth a brilliant ray of light as well as an, ahem, vision: Herself, floating down from the heavens in full Scarlet Witch garb. Wanda then falls unconscious. Meanwhile, the folks recording the experiment on their grainy little screen only see her faint. They have no evidence of her interacting with the stone.
We’re meant to infer this is the moment in which Wanda gets her powers. But Agatha clarifies the Stone only “amplified what would have died on the vine.” Great, that makes sense. The question we can’t yet answer is why? If so many others couldn’t handle the Stone’s power, why did it open itself up to Wanda? And why Pietro, too?
Reddit user shuerpiola explains it this way: The Mind Stone chose Wanda as a way of keeping itself alive.
“The Mind Stone perceived Wanda’s loss of her parents, sensed her potential, and realized it was grief that it could exploit to perpetuate its own existence. It granted Pietro powers for the same reason—knowing that if he had powers then he would fight against Ultron, leading to his death and compounding Wanda’s grief…[The Infinity Stones] knew that Wanda and The Vision would fall in love, that The Vision would die, and that Wanda would ultimately use her powers to recreate The Vision, and the Mind Stone with him.
“As stated many times so far: everything in the Hex is real. Hayward was able to track the Vision by his vibranium signature—meaning it’s genuine vibranium. Similarly, there’s no reason to believe the Mind Stone in the Hex is a knock-off either.”
Perhaps the Mind Stone gave Wanda its power, therefore imbuing her with the ability to recreate it. Is your brain spinning yet? Mine too. But if this theory is true, then it means Vision can really, truly come back to life.
Theory #6: The Westview citizens know they’re being controlled. Maybe they can do something about it.
In episode 4, we learn that the kind folks of Westview are being “portrayed” by real humans. Darcy Lewis (an astrophysicist you’ll recognize from the Thor films) and Jimmy Woo (a S.H.I.E.L.D.-turned-S.W.O.R.D. agent we met in Ant-Man and the Wasp) assemble a bulletin board covered with profiles of the characters and their real names: Norm is Abilash Tandon, Phil is Harold Proctor, Mr. Hart is Todd Davis, etc. These characters didn’t volunteer to perform imaginary lives in Wanda’s sitcom-verse, so they must be—to one degree or another—under her thumb.
But they’re also conscious. In episode 5, at Vision’s office, Norm and Vision intercept an email from Darcy about the “Maximoff anomaly.” Norm laughs it off: “It’s a joke. Can’t you tell? None of it is real.” Then, when Vision clears his mind, Norm’s face contorts into horrified panic: “She’s in my head. None of it is my own. It hurts.”
We’re meant to assume that “she” is Wanda, of course. But there’s now another “she” we should suspect. Might Agatha be the one who’s actually hurting the Westview residents? And is it possible those residents know more than they’re revealing? In episode 6, Wanda chats with Franken-Norm about the Neighborhood Watch’s reign over the Halloween festivities, and he asks her if there’s anything she “wants changed.” The question puzzles Wanda, though it seems a clear nod to her control over the town.
So maybe Norm has some answers for us. In episode 7, we see that Agatha has, at some point, used her powers to manipulate Norm. Does that mean he knows who Agatha really is?
Theory #7: Agatha’s snacking on Wanda’s magic.
By far the most bizarre element of episode 6 is the claymation commercial, which features a starving child on a desert island and a shark who offers him yogurt called “Yo-Magic.” Sadly, the kid is too weak and fidgety to get the wrapper off the container, and he ends up literally decomposing before our eyes. “Yo-Magic: The Snack For Survivors,” the commercial concludes.
Other than being a very upsetting interruption from our favorite program, this Easter egg seems to have most fans stumped. That said, it’s a pretty clear play on words: Yo-Magic is “your magic,” and probably Wanda’s magic. So, is someone snacking on Wanda’s magic?
It’s possible all of Westview is snacking on her magic, feeding on it and developing powers like Monica displays in episode 7. But the snacker might also be Agatha. Sure, she’s a witch with her own hex magic, but we already know she’s not as powerful as the Scarlet Witch, or she wouldn’t be trying to decipher how Wanda created the Hex. What if she‘s the survivor desperate to take a bite of Wanda’s power?
Theory #8: Monica is secretly a superhero. (Confirmed.)
We first met Monica as a girl in Captain Marvel. She was the super-cute daughter of Carol Danvers’s best friend Maria, remember? Lieutenant Trouble? Well, a few years have passed since then, and it would seem Maria went on to found S.W.O.R.D. Maria raised her daughter in the fluorescent-lighted control rooms of the organization, and Monica went on to become a respected agent in her own right. But, as we learn in episode 4, Maria contracted cancer, and she died during the time Monica disappeared in Infinity War‘s “snap.”
In the first moments of episode 4, Monica re-materializes after the Avengers reverse the snap, and she rejoins S.W.O.R.D. But she’s temporarily “grounded,” meaning she’s assigned to lowly earthly tasks. That leads her to the doorstep of Westview, and eventually to Wanda giving her the boot.
Then, in episode 5, she awakens on the S.W.O.R.D. base to discover her lab results are mysteriously blank. The medic requests another blood draw, and Monica refuses. No explanation is given. But, if we had to guess, this moment is brought to you by that episode 6 reveal, when Darcy discovers the Hex is manipulating people’s cells.
In the comics, Monica has skills similar to Danvers—photon blasts, flight, the works. Over the years, Monica has claimed multiple aliases, including Photon, Spectrum, Pulsar, and even—yes—Captain Marvel. An Easter egg in episode 4 reveals that Maria, in fact, used “Photon” as a nickname at S.W.O.R.D.
So, when Monica made the courageous choice to squeeze her body through the Hex again in episode 7, it shouldn’t be a surprise that she came out the other side with glowing blue eyes. And moments later, when Wanda attempts to again throw her out of Westview, Monica reveals some electric-blue blasts that burst out of her…legs? Hands? Either way, she’s got powers, people. And Wanda gave them to her, though perhaps accidentally.
What we don’t know is what those powers are, exactly. Are they photon blasts, like Captain Marvel’s? And will Monica take on her mother’s alias, Photon, or select her own? Does she even know she has powers? Did she want powers? There’s a lot we still don’t know about this new Monica.
Theory #9: Billy and Tommy are the first children in Westview to get superpowers. They won’t be the last.
At the end of episode 3, Wanda gives birth to twins Billy and Tommy. In the comics, these cuties are Billy and Tommy Maximoff, aka Wiccan and Speed, who have superpowers similar to Wanda and Pietro’s—hex abilities and super-speed.
Billy and Tommy are stupendous characters in their own right, and they eventually become leaders of the Young Avengers, another popular franchise that Marvel probably has plans to cinema-tize. But they also have complicated origins: They’re actually created from fragments of a demon’s soul, and that realization is part of what originally drives Wanda insane during House of M.
Prior to episode 6, many fans were under the impression there were no other children in Westview. But they all come crawling out of…somewhere…for Halloween, all dressed in costume and unprepared to have their candy stolen by two hot-headed and super-speedy Maximoffs. Pietro, who has only just appeared in Wanda’s reality with no explanation, makes note of this: He implies Wanda kept the town’s little tykes sleeping in their beds until a kid-friendly event like Halloween arrived. “You handled the ethical considerations of this scenario as best you could,” he tells her. She doesn’t seem so sure.
At this point, Tommy has revealed he shares his uncle’s penchant for super-speed, while Billy only reveals his more nebulous magical powers when his dad makes a break for the Hex perimeter. Desperate to escape, Vision pushes through the barrier, leaving bits of himself behind until he crumples to the ground. Billy senses his pain and tells his mother they have to help him.
It’s possible Billy and Tommy inherited their powers genetically, and they were simply dormant up to this point. But it also seems possible the Hex itself is doing something to their molecular structure. After all, we learn from Darcy in episode 6 that Monica’s cells have been manipulated twice due to Hex interference. If it can give Monica powers, why not Billy and Tommy? If Wanda can recreate the Mind Stone, could she not also create her own children and their powers? And if she can give Billy and Tommy powers, might it also give the other Westview residents powers, too? Would that make them…mutants?
Theory #10: Pietro’s return opens the doors to the X-Men universe. (Denied.)
Ahh, Fake Pietro—or Fietro, as Agatha affectionately coins him. It was fun while it lasted.
Prior to episode 8, most of us Marvel fans who grew up watching Hugh Jackman unleash claws from his fists in the X-Men movies were desperate to see an MCU/X-Men crossover. Disney owns the rights to X-Men, which is why you’ll see those films on your Disney+ queue. It’s possible the Avengers MCU and the X-Men universe will eventually collide on the silver screen, as they do in the comics. Up until now, WandaVision seemed poised to be the rainbow bridge.
At the end of episode 5, Pietro Maximoff returns to the screen. Wanda’s brother shows up at her doorstep, completely unexpected—and, apparently, not by her design: When the doorbell rings, she tells Vision, “I didn’t do that.” The door swings open, and there’s Pietro…except not the one from Age of Ultron. This is Evan Peters’ version of Pietro, who first appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
This is the first time the worlds of the X-Men films and the MCU have collided. And Evan-Pietro seems unsure what he’s doing in Westview. In episode 6, he explains to Wanda that, in one moment he was taking a few bullets to the chest, and in the next, he was blipped into Westview.
Episode 7 reveals Evan-Pietro is even more unusual than we first assumed: He’s apparently doing Agatha’s bidding. During a mid-credits scene, he catches Monica lurking around Agatha’s house and prevents her from entering the underground chamber. “Snoopers gonna snoop,” he quips, moments before the credits return.
Finally, episode 9 reveals Evan-Pietro, aka Fietro, is no Pietro at all. He’s a creation of Agatha’s, a sort of familiar who acts as her eyes and eyes in Westview. Wanda was so desperate to believe he was her brother that she fell into Agatha’s trap.
So, sorry to say it, X-Men fans, but you might have to wait a while longer for that massive cross-over event.
Theory #13: The “missing person” will play an important role.
In all the excitement of recent episodes, it’s easy to forget that Monica and Jimmy first showed up in Westview because of a missing person case. But don’t let that detail escape you. It could be a huge clue.
The missing person they’re after—a male—is apparently in the Witness Protection Program, and none of his known associates or relatives have even heard of him.
After episode 8, many fans are speculating this mystery man will finally appear in the season finale. Bettany mentioned in an interview with the “Lights Camera Barstool” podcast that he works with a special mystery actor in WandaVision: “So many things get leaked, but there’s this thing that has been completely under wrap that happens. I work with this actor that I’ve always wanted to work with and we have fireworks together—the scenes are great and I think people are going to be really excited. I’ve always wanted to work with this guy and the scenes are pretty intense.”
Obviously, this is an important character, and there’s a reason he hasn’t been revealed yet. Many fans think this mystery man is “Ralph,” the husband Agnes/Agatha mentions frequently who has yet to appear onscreen. Others think Ralph might just be Mephisto, a demonic Marvel villain that fans are obsessed with. (Personally, if I ever hear someone say the word “Mephisto” again, I might spontaneously create my own alternate universe, too.)
Theory #14: WandaVision has revealed the “nexus” for Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness.
Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed WandaVision will tie into the film universe, and Olsen will star alongside Benedict Cumberbatch in March 2022’s The Multiverse of Madness. So, what does that mean?
Well, let’s consider that commercial in episode 7, the one that advertises “Nexus” as an anti-depressant. A “nexus,” by definition, is a connection—something that pulls two or more things together but remains constant itself.
Comics readers will recognize the term as a possible reference to the Nexus of All Realities, a sort of crossroads where multiverse travelers can pick which reality they’d like to explore next. The different realities also have Nexus Beings, individuals who can affect probability and alter the Universal Time Stream. What if Wanda herself is one of these beings—or, perhaps, becomes one when she fully embraces her identity as Scarlet Witch? And if that’s the case, might she be the partner Doctor Strange needs to repair a tear in the fabric of reality? There’s so much more in store for Wanda; we can be sure of that. But what I can’t wait to know is if Vision will be there beside her.
This story will be updated each week after a new episode of WandaVision drops.
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