Though it wasn’t intended, WandaVision will be the first Marvel/Disney+ series out of the gate, kick-starting Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and tying in with films such as Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Marvel is naturally trying to keep a lot of the show’s details under wraps and has so far released a few teases that maintain the mystery.
Which might lead to some confusion about the show. What is WandaVision all about? What do you need to know before you watch the series to get the most out of it? Well, we’re here to help. Having combed through the Marvel archives, here’s everything you need to know about these characters and all the information that could prove useful when you sit down to watch the first episode.
Who is Wanda “Scarlet Witch” Maximoff?
Like most Marvel characters, Wanda has a complicated comic book history. Originally created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby for X-Men #4, she was crafted as the mutant daughter of Magneto, and has fought alongside him in the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, but was later recruited by the Avengers. She fell in love with the “Synthezoid” (a synthetic humanoid) known as the Vision, and married him, but the couple were unable to have children (obviously). Wanda fixed the situation by creating twins Tommy and Billy using her powers, but when her spell was broken, the boys were wiped from existence. Though they eventually returned as the heroes Wiccan and Speed (possessing powers akin to those of Wanda and her twin brother, Quicksilver), the loss of the boys caused Wanda to suffer a breakdown and she ended up creating her own reality in the ‘House Of M’ storyline, where everyone’s desires came true and made mutants the dominant life form on the planet. Reality (or what passes for it in the Marvel comic books) was restored, but not before Wanda de-powered 90% of the mutant population, resulting in many deaths.
Maximoff is played by Elizabeth Olsen and was first glimpsed at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier along with her brother Pietro (Aaron Taylor Johnson). Sokovian natives angered by their country’s strife, they agreed to take part in experiments run by HYDRA’s Wolfgang von Strucker and, thanks to Loki’s recovered Sceptre and its enclosed Mind Stone, gained some handy superpowers. Wanda was granted a variety of abilities, including telekinesis, telepathy, and energy manipulation.
Wanda and Pietro fought the Avengers alongside AI threat Ultron in Avengers: Age Of Ultron, before they learned of his true intentions and switched sides, which led to Pietro’s death. A devastated Wanda joined the Avengers properly, and found a kindred spirit in Vision. They were on different sides during Captain America: Civil War (Wanda sided with Cap in rejecting the Sokovia Accords), but Vision found his feelings for Wanda growing stronger. They became a couple at some point before Avengers: Infinity War, but tragedy struck when she was forced to destroy the Mind Stone to prevent Thanos (Josh Brolin) acquiring it. That, it turns out, was short lived, as Thanos used the Time Stone to reverse her actions, and took the Mind Stone for himself, killing Vision once again. Harsh.
Wanda was dusted following the Snap, but returned in Avengers: Endgame to help defeat Thanos.
Who is Vision?
Roy Thomas and John Buscema created the character of Vision, who first appeared in 1968’s Avengers #57. In his original storyline, he’s the creation of Ultron and a scientist named Professor Phineas T. Horton, who built him as a powerful android based on a droid version of the FAntastic Four’s. However, Horton left the Torch’s memories a part of Vision, so Ultron killed him for the betrayal. When Vision sought vengeance, Ultron defeated him and imprinted him with the powers of Wonder Man (because reasons), plus a control crystal to keep him in line. It all worked out, though, as Vision later helped the Avengers defeat Ultron and became a key player in the team. Vision’s allegiances have shifted through the decades, and at one point, (in the comic book run Vision), he created his own family, settling into suburban life with an android wife and kids. That peace didn’t last long, though…
Played by Paul Bettany, the MCU vision is a creation of Ultron (James Spader) and enthralled scientist Helen Cho (Claudia Kim) in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Designed to be the ultimate form of Ultron, complete with the Mind Stone from Loki’s scepter, Vision was taken by the Avengers, with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) merging his consciousness with that of the remnants of Stark’s AI, J.A.R.V.I.S. (voiced by Bettany). The new being helped the Avengers defeat Ultron and joined the team.
Vision sided with Stark in the rift within the Avengers over signing the Sokovia Accords, putting him in conflict with Wanda Maximoff, with whom he was becoming close. After settling their differences, they absconded together before the events ofAvengers: Infinity War before Vision died (twice).
What is WandaVision’s story?
WandaVision’s basic setup finds Wanda and Vision living in a sitcom-style suburban world as a married couple with two children. Each episode (at least those featured in the various trailers) is modeled after sitcoms from different eras (I Love Lucy and I Dream Of Jeannie among them). But even in the teasers, there are strong hints that all is not as it seems, and that something very odd is going on here. Not least of which the fact that Vision is alive, despite his death in Infinity War. The show would appear to be set after the events of Endgame, though that could also prove untrue down the line.
Given the Mind Stone’s position in the creation of both the main characters, and the couple’s subsequent powers, it seems entirely possible that one or both is responsible for what is going on here. In keeping with MCU tradition, the show draws more directly from the movies’ history, though given the comic book tradition of alternate realities and Wanda’s powers, expect to see the usual folding in of ideas from their paper pasts. As for the children – in the comics, the twins ended up as members of the Young Avengers and if the MCU is headed that way on screens both big and small, we may well see more of them.
Who else is in the show?
Kathryn Hahn is Agnes, the couple’s “nosy neighbour”. Little is known about the character, which is very much the point here. She could be entirely invented for the series, though — potential spoiler alert – she might also be some version of the comic books’ Agatha Harkness, a powerful witch who mentors Wanda in her powers and who ends up dead in different stories, including one where Wanda kills her.
Randall Park is Jimmy Woo, seen in Ant-Man And The Wasp. A former SHIELD agent recruited by the FBI after the agency was disbanded in the wake of the revelation that it had been fully infiltrated by Hydra. He was last seen enforcing Scott Lang’s (Paul Rudd) home arrest.
Kat Dennings is Darcy Lewis, usually found providing comic relief in the first two Thor films. An assistant to Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) and Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), she was last involved in the MCU helping Foster and Thor fight against the Dark Elves in Thor: The Dark World.
Teyonah Parris is Monica Rambeau, a character we last met as a young girl (played by Akira Akbar) in Captain Marvel. Quite what Monica is up to here remains a mystery, like so much of the show.
Fred Melamed and Debra Jo Rupp play the Hearts, Vision’s boss and his wife, while a to-be-named actor plays Herb, another neighbour. Speculation is already rife that Herb could – again, potential spoiler alert – be Herbert Edgar Wyndham, AKA the High Evolutionary, a villain who has plans to advance the evolution of humanity to his own ends, and has included manipulating Wanda in those schemes in the comics.
Josh Stamberg, Evan Peters, Asif Ali and Jolene Purdy play unknown characters.
Who created the show?
WandaVision comes from writer/show-runner Jac Schaeffer, who has also worked on Captain Marvel and Black Widow, while Matt Shakman directed the series.
Robert Lopez, and Kristen Anderson Lopez, who have won Oscars for their music from movies such as Frozen, provided different sitcom themes for the episodes.
How many episodes are there?
The first season, assuming this isn’t a “limited” one-and-done run, is listed as nine episodes. For the first episode, which as mentioned above is based on shows such as I Love Lucy, scenes were filmed before a studio audience.