Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Wandavision, part 2

It’s been a year since I last did a rewatch, ending Phase Three with Spider-Man: No Way Home. Now that the Infinity Saga is over and Thanos has turned to dust, our surviving heroes have moved on… with various degrees of success. Phase Four incorporates both Cinematic releases and television programs. For the television programs, I am limiting each article to three episodes each

Title:  Wandavision

Characters created by:  Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas, John Buscema, Roger Stern, John Romita Jr., Feldstein, Joe Maneely, Allan Heinberg, and Jim Cheung.

Returning characters (for the series):  Wanda Maximoff, Vision, Jimmy Woo, Maria Rambeau, Monica Rambeau, and Darcy Lewis

Episode four: “We Interrupt This Program”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:  Bobak Esfarjani and Megan McDonnell

US Release Date: January 29, 2021

Summary: Captain Monica Rambeau, an agent of S.W.O.R.D., returns to life following the Blip only to find that her mother, Maria, died of cancer three years prior. Three weeks later, Rambeau returns to work and is told by acting S.W.O.R.D. Director Tyler Hayward that she will be assigned to terrestrial missions only, as her mother had directed before her death for anyone that returned from the Blip.

She is subsequently sent to help FBI agent Jimmy Woo with a missing persons case in Westview, New Jersey. They speak to two police officers who insist that Westview does not exist, despite the town’s presence directly behind them. Woo explains to Rambeau that he can not physically enter the town due to an unknown psychic force. They discover a hexagonal static CMBR field surrounding the town, which Rambeau is pulled into. Within 24 hours, S.W.O.R.D. establishes a base around the town and sends drones to investigate.

Astrophysics expert Dr. Darcy Lewis is brought in to study the phenomenon. She discovers television broadcast signals coming from the field and, using vintage televisions, finds the transmissions are for the sitcom WandaVision. S.W.O.R.D. personnel use the show to observe events inside the town, learning that the real residents have been “cast” as characters, Rambeau is “Geraldine”, and Vision is alive despite his death five years prior. Lewis and Woo attempt to make radio contact with Wanda Maximoff.

S.W.O.R.D. agent Franklin crawls through the sewer system in an attempt to enter Westview, but his suit is transformed into beekeeper attire and his tether detaches and turns into a jump rope at the edge of the static field. When Geraldine mentions Ultron, Maximoff violently casts her out of the town which Lewis and Woo realize is censored from the broadcast. The sitcom illusion disappears, and Maximoff sees her husband Vision appear as he did when he died. Horrified, she restores the illusion. Rambeau wakes up at the S.W.O.R.D. base and is surrounded by agents. She tells them that Maximoff is controlling the illusion.

MCU Continuity Nods:  Archival audio from Captain Marvel of Carol Danvers speaking to a young Monica Rambeau is heard at the start of the episode. Agent Jimmy Woo demonstrates “close-up magic” when producing his card for Captain Rambeau, a trick he learned in Ant-Man and the Wasp

Music:Composer Christophe Beck said that, as a Marvel fan, the episode’s opening sequence gave him goosebumps when he first watched it, and he was pleased with the intensity of the music he wrote that “brought out the chaos in that moment”. He introduced a new theme for Rambeau in the scene. “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” by the Jimi Hendrix Experience is featured in the episode

Episode five: On a Very Special Episode…

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writers:  Peter Cameron and Mackenzie Dohr, 

US Release Date: February 5, 2021

Summary: In the fictional WandaVision program, now set during the 1980s/early 1990s, Wanda Maximoff and Vision struggle to stop their newborn sons Billy and Tommy from crying. Their neighbor Agnes arrives to help look after the boys, but appears to break character and asks Maximoff if they should redo the scene. Vision questions Maximoff about Agnes’s behavior, but they are interrupted when Billy and Tommy suddenly age-up to five years old. Agnes does not express surprise or concern about this.

Watching the WandaVision series from outside the town of Westview, S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward calls Maximoff a terrorist while Monica Rambeau does not believe Maximoff has malicious intentions. Hayward claims that Maximoff recently stole Vision’s body from S.W.O.R.D. headquarters and resurrected him, disregarding Vision’s living will. Rambeau discovers that her clothing was transformed to match the design of WandaVision and wonders if they can bypass this by using something era-appropriate.

The boys ask to keep a dog that appears at the house, and Agnes suggests the name Sparky. Maximoff almost reveals her abilities to Agnes, concerning Vision. When Maximoff and Vision decide the boys are too young to care for Sparky, they age up to 10 years old. At work, Vision reads an email from S.W.O.R.D. that reveals the situation in Westview. He breaks the trance over his co-worker Norm, a real Westview resident named Abilash Tandon, who begs Vision to stop “her”. Vision then reverts Abilash to Norm.

S.W.O.R.D. sends a drone from the 1980s into Westview and attempts to kill Maximoff on Hayward’s orders. She emerges from the static field surrounding the town with the drone and warns Hayward to leave her alone. After Sparky unexpectedly dies, the twins ask their mother to bring him back to life, but she says they cannot do that and urges them to deal with their grief.

Vision confronts Maximoff about controlling the town, revealing that he cannot remember his life or identity before coming to Westview. Maximoff says that not everything is under her control, and she does not know how it started. They are interrupted again when her dead brother “Pietro” arrives at the front door. Watching the broadcast, Darcy Lewis notes that Pietro has been “recast”.

MCU Continuity Nods:  Pietro was previously portrayed in the MCU by Aaron Taylor-Johnson, while Evan Peters played a different version of the character named Peter Maximoff in the X-Men film series. Lewis notes onscreen that Maximoff has “recast” Pietro, but this was not meant to be interpreted as a real-life recasting of Taylor-Johnson. Jimmy Woo states Wanda Maximoff violated Section 36-B of the Sokovia Accords when she resurrected Vision. During the S.W.O.R.D. briefing, news footage is attributed to WHiH World News, the fictional news network in the MCU which has been used to promote some of the films in its own web series WHIH News Front and was previously featured in various TV series set in the MCU.

Easter Eggs: In the comics, Sparky is Vision’s android dog. He was first introduced in Tom King’s Vision, issue 6. The Vision’s remains being dismantled in a lab, and later rescued by Wanda, are taken from the “Vision Quest” arc in the Marvel comics. 

Music:Theme song composers Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez said the theme for the episode, titled “Making it Up as We Go Along”, was their favorite song that they wrote for the series since they grew up in the 1980s. 

Episode six: “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:  Chuck Hayward and Peter Cameron

US Release Date: February 12, 2021

Summary: In the fictional WandaVision program, now set during the late 1990s to early 2000s, Wanda Maximoff wants to spend Billy and Tommy’s first Halloween together as a family. However, Vision says he is going to patrol the streets with the neighborhood watch. “Pietro Maximoff” offers to take the boys trick-or-treating, causing mischief with his super-speed, which Tommy is revealed to have inherited. Maximoff questions why “Pietro” looks different, but he assures her that he is her brother. He later reveals that he knows Maximoff is controlling the town, and he is okay with it. He continually asks Maximoff how she did it, but she says she does not know. Meanwhile, Vision explores further away from their house and finds residents of Westview standing frozen in their positions, including Agnes. Vision speaks to Agnes’s real self, and she tells him that he is dead and Maximoff is controlling them. Vision restores her entranced state.

Outside Westview, S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward is preparing to attack Maximoff, but Monica Rambeau, Darcy Lewis, and Jimmy Woo warn him against antagonizing Maximoff as it would only start a war they cannot win. The director orders them thrown out of the S.W.O.R.D. base for questioning his authority, but they sneak back inside to figure out what he is hiding. Hacking into Hayward’s computer system, they discover that he has been tracking Vision’s vibranium signature. They also find that he has Rambeau’s bloodwork, which reveals that her cells are changing on a molecular level due to her going through the boundary twice. Lewis stays behind while Rambeau and Woo go to meet a friend to help Rambeau get back inside the Hex to help Maximoff.

Vision tries to push through the static wall but begins disintegrating. Lewis begs Hayward to help Vision, but she is handcuffed to a car. Billy senses that Vision is dying and tells Maximoff, who expands the static wall. The new boundary restores Vision but also envelops Lewis and several S.W.O.R.D. agents and turns them into circus performers. Hayward, Rambeau, and Woo manage to flee.

MCU Continuity Nods:  Wanda warns her boys not to cross Ellis Avenue. In the MCU, President Ellis was in office when the Sokovia Accords were signed, setting restrictive boundaries on superpowered people like the Avengers.

Easter Eggs: Vision, Wanda, Pietro, and Billy all wear their classic comic book costumes.

Music:  Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez wrote “Let’s Keep it Going.”

My Take:  My favorite moment has to do with the Halloween costumes. It shows how comics-accurate costumes can look goofy in real life, but it was such a treat. It was also great to see Jimmy and Darcy again. Also excited to finally have Monica properly in the MCU.