Marvel Cinematic Universe Phase Four Re-Watch. Wandavision, part 3

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 seven: “Breaking the Fourth Wall”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:  Cameron Squires

US Release Date: February 19, 2021

Summary:  In a late 2000s setting, Wanda Maximoff decides to have a day to herself. Agnes agrees to babysit Billy and Tommy and takes them to her house. Vision wakes up in a circus run by S.W.O.R.D. agents who are under Maximoff’s spell. He finds Darcy Lewis, frees her from the spell, and learns about his death and the events that led to the current situation from her. Maximoff sees various parts of her house constantly reverting to prior iterations from older ‘episodes’ and is unable to control them. Vision and Lewis’s journey back to his house is continuously interrupted at a junction point, leading Vision to assume that Maximoff is preventing him from returning home. However, he also realizes that his wife needs him and flies the rest of the way, leaving Lewis behind.

Outside of Westview, Monica Rambeau and Jimmy Woo meet with S.W.O.R.D. personnel who are loyal to Rambeau’s late mother rather than Director Tyler Hayward and obtain a vehicle that should be able to cross the barrier. The mission is unsuccessful, as half of the vehicle transforms into a truck. Rambeau decides to enter herself since she has already passed through the boundary twice. She passes through the static wall and emerges with glowing eyes and having gained powers. She goes to warn Maximoff about Hayward. Maximoff does not believe her and attacks, but Rambeau can withstand her assault due to her new powers. Their confrontation is interrupted by Agnes, who asks Rambeau to leave and takes Maximoff to her house.

Agnes tells Maximoff that the twins are in the basement, but when Maximoff goes to look for them she finds a mysterious lair. Trapping Maximoff, Agnes reveals herself as Agatha Harkness, a powerful witch. She shows Maximoff a vision of her manipulating events, revealing that she killed Sparky and sent “Pietro Maximoff” to Maximoff, which is presented as a new fictional program called Agatha All Along. In a mid-credits scene, Rambeau discovers Harkness’s lair but is caught by “Pietro”.

A commercial during the WandaVision program advertises Nexus anti-depression drugs.

MCU Continuity Nods:  Archival audio of a young Monica Rambeau, her mother Maria Rambeau, Carol Danvers, and Nick Fury from the film Captain Marvel is heard in the episode when Rambeau attempts to enter the Hex.

Easter Eggs: In the comics Agatha Harkness is a powerful witch, portrayed as a sinister heroine and teacher of Wanda Maximoff, as well as being the mother of Nicholas Scratch. Agatha has been depicted as one of the original witches from the Salem witch trials. She survived and later became a significant figure in Marvel continuity, protecting Franklin Richards as his nanny and later mentoring Wanda Maximoff in real magic.

Music:The episode’s opening theme song, “W-V 2000”, was written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez and performed by The Math Club. The episode also includes the theme song “Agatha All Along”, which was also written by Anderson-Lopez and Lopez.

Episode eight: “Previously On”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:   Laura Donney

US Release Date: February 26, 2021

Summary: In Salem, 1693, Agatha Harkness is put on trial by a coven of witches led by her mother Evanora for practicing dark magic. As they attempt to kill Harkness, she absorbs their magic and drains the life from them.

In the present day, Harkness interrogates Wanda Maximoff, demanding to know how she is controlling Westview. Harkness forces Maximoff to relive key moments in her life, including when she and her brother Pietro were trapped in the rubble next to an unexploded bomb the day their parents died. In this memory, Harkness deduces that Maximoff was born a witch who engaged in basic hex magic as a child as seen when Maximoff inadvertently uses a simple probability hex to prevent the bomb from going off.

In the next memory, Maximoff watches as she is experimented on by Hydra using the Mind Stone. When she approached the stone it reacted to her presence, showing her a vision of an apparition inside the Mind Stone. Harkness suggests that the stone augmented Maximoff’s latent magical abilities, which otherwise would have gone undiscovered. Maximoff then relives a fond memory of Vision when they lived at the Avengers Compound, discussing grief and bonding over sitcoms.

After Vision’s death, Maximoff visited S.W.O.R.D. to recover his body. Director Tyler Hayward showed her the disassembled remains but refused to hand Vision over. Maximoff drove to a dilapidated lot in Westview that Vision had bought for them, intending to live there together. Overwhelmed with grief, she used her powers to create a house on the lot, manifest a new version of Vision, and extended her spell across the entire town, turning it into the style of a black-and-white, 1950s sitcom.

After reliving these memories, Maximoff hears her children Billy and Tommy crying for help. She finds them being held captive by Harkness, who mocks Maximoff for not knowing the full extent of her own abilities and using them to create a sitcom-style fantasy world in Westview. Harkness explains that Maximoff has been using powerful chaos magic, which makes her the mythical “Scarlet Witch”. In a mid-credits scene, Hayward uses Maximoff’s energy to activate the reassembled, all-white body of the original Vision.

MCU Continuity Nods:  The flashback to Sokovia reveals that the blinking red light and beeping tone on the toaster in the WandaVision: “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” commercial is a callback to the Stark Industries rocket that killed Wanda’s parents. When Vision phases through the wall into Wanda’s room, this is apparently the first time he has done this. We see later on in Captain America: Civil War, that he has done this before when Wanda says “Vis! We talked about this”.

Easter Eggs: The Vision is revived with an all-white color. This is similar to what happened to him in the comics, specifically the “Vision Quest” arc of West Coast Avengers #42-45.

Episode nine: “The Series Finale”

Director:  Matt Shakman.

Writer:  Jac Schaeffer and

US Release Date: March 5, 2021

Summary: Agatha Harkness attempts to take Wanda Maximoff’s chaos magic but is interrupted by the white, re-assembled, and re-animated Vision who attacks Maximoff, revealing S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward’s orders to eliminate her. He is foiled by the version of Vision created by Maximoff who fights with White Vision across Westview while Harkness continues to attack Maximoff. Harkness frees the residents of Westview from Maximoff’s spell that trapped them in sitcom personas, and they plead with Maximoff to let them leave.

Maximoff begins to open the barrier to allow the residents to escape, but her Vision and their sons Billy and Tommy begin to disintegrate. She closes the barrier again, but not before Hayward enters with multiple S.W.O.R.D. personnel. Monica Rambeau removes a magical necklace from “Pietro Maximoff”, releasing him from Harkness’s control and revealing his true identity as Ralph Bohner. Maximoff attempts to overpower Harkness with illusions of her past, but Harkness gains control and overpowers Maximoff. Using newly developed powers, Rambeau saves Billy and Tommy from Hayward, who is detained by Darcy Lewis.

Maximoff’s Vision helps unlock the White Vision’s memories, and the latter departs Westview. Harkness takes Maximoff’s magic but does not realize that Maximoff has created magical runes around the barrier to prevent Harkness from using her own magic. Maximoff then reclaims all of her magic and becomes the Scarlet Witch. She traps Harkness as the sitcom persona “Agnes”, and then takes her family home as she collapses the barrier. Maximoff and Vision put their sons to bed and then say goodbye, before Vision, the boys, and their house all disappear. Faced with the Westview residents that she has harmed, Maximoff makes peace with Rambeau and goes into hiding.

In a mid-credits scene, Hayward is arrested while Rambeau is informed by a Skrull disguised as an FBI agent that a friend of her mother Maria wants to meet with her in space. In a post-credits scene, while studying the Darkhold in her astral form at a remote cabin, Maximoff hears her sons calling for her help.

MCU Continuity Nods:  Spider-Man: Far from Home, which takes place some months after the events of WandaVision, starts with a tribute to the Avengers who fell during the Infinity War, including a grainy picture of Vision. This indicates that most of the world remains unaware of the events that happened in Westview. Jimmy Woo demonstrates his magic skills by picking the lock on his handcuffs.

The Darkhold is the book of the damned that debuted in the MCU on the series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was the cause of all the misfortunes during season four and was ultimately taken back to hell by Ghost Rider. The Darkhold then appeared again in the third season of Marvel’s Runaways, where it was in the possession of the magic user Morgan le Faye. The explanation for the multiple Darkholds is revealed in Doctor Strange in the Multitude of Madness.

Easter Eggs: Wanda wiping away Vision’s tear is a nod to issue #58 when Vision wants to become an Avenger. In the issue, the Avengers test his powers and after he passes, he is asked to join. Vision walks away and the last panel shows Vision with a single tear rolling down his cheek, proving “Even an Android can Cry,” which is the title of the issue.

Music:Composer Christophe Beck referenced Michael Giacchino’s main theme from Doctor Strange (2016) for the post-credits scene where Maximoff studies the Darkhold in her astral form.

My Take:  “But what is grief, if not love persevering?”

This is practically a typical Scarlet Witch story, as she is almost always her worst enemy. Wanda always has an extreme reaction to grief and trama. She becomes radicalized after her parents are killed. She rips Ultron’s heart out when Pietro is killed. The loss of Vision set her on a path to take over a town. We will see what the loss of her children will lead her to do in Doctor Strange in the Multitude of Madness

Next: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier