Full SPOILERS ahead for Marvel’s WandaVision!
UPDATE: Marvel’s WandaVision episode five exposed the morbid truth about Vision’s return. Last week, the feature below mulled three theories about how the Synthezoid apparently came back from the dead. Now, in this week’s “A Very Special Episode”, it was revealed Vision isn’t a figment of Wanda Maximoff’s imagination or a counterpart from somewhere in the multiverse but the same very real (and to this point, very dead) Vision who perished in Avengers: Infinity War.
Wanda stole Vision’s remains from SWORD headquarters less than two weeks before the main events of the series and used her powers to reanimate him. Is Vision truly conscious and alive as he was before Thanos killed him? His growing self-awareness and challenging of Wanda suggest he is, but his “zombie” look glimpsed in episode four suggests he’s still not quite the same as he was before the Mind Stone was ripped from his forehead.
Wanda’s grave-robbing violated not only a provision in the Sokovia Accords but also her husband’s living will. As FBI Agent Jimmy Woo explained, it was Vision’s wish that he not be brought back or used as a weapon by anyone or any group should he die.
Clearly, then, Wanda’s grief has driven her to break not only international law but also her loved one’s wishes … that is if Wanda is really the one behind all the mysterious goings-on in Westview.
Our original theory piece from January 22 follows.
Three episodes into Marvel’s WandaVision and the question still remains how Vision is alive considering his death in Avengers: Infinity War — or if he’s even real at all in the show. After all, the unfolding mystery of how and why Wanda Maximoff and Vision are in the sitcom suburbia of Westview has yet to be definitively answered, although the series’ third episode offers the most clues yet about what’s happening (no classic sitcom reference intended).
So is Vision really back from the dead in WandaVision? Or is he as phony as a sitcom prop? Let’s examine the clues and theories surrounding the return of the Synthezoid.
Vision Is a Figment of Wanda’s Imagination
This is the likeliest scenario given the show’s “House of M”-style premise where Wanda Maximoff’s powers and mental stress cause her to warp reality. Now that we know for a fact that WandaVision takes place “right after the events of Endgame,” we’re following a Wanda who is still adjusting to having lost the love of her life as well as having come back from the dead herself. That would understandably be a lot for her to process, and especially as someone with little to no support network (her lover, her twin brother, and her parents are all dead, and most of her Avengers teammates have either gone their separate ways or died themselves).
One going fan theory is that this TV sitcom “reality” is Wanda going through the stages of grief, a way for her to create a blissful existence where she lives a happy, “normal” life with the one she loves. Wanda’s warping of reality/space/time would also explain the presence of S.W.O.R.D. as they attempt to get her to snap out of it and not mess reality up any further.
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In this scenario, Vision is but a figment of Wanda’s imagination, a mental projection that she can control as easily as rewinding a videotape — which we basically see her do when that glitch happens in episode 3. When Vision reveals to Wanda that something is wrong, the frame freezes and the scene rewinds a few moments and then plays out more happily this time, with none of Vision’s troubling suspicions being raised. Before the glitch, Vision was coming close to serving as Wanda’s subconscious, trying to get her to wake from her reality-warping reverie.
But the theory that Vision is merely a figment of Wanda’s imagination isn’t without its flaws. In each episode, we have seen Vision out on his own (at the office, the neighborhood meeting, or talking to his neighbors Herb and Agnes) where he interacts with other characters without Wanda around. He appears to have agency of his own in these scenes, especially during his interaction with Agnes and Herb in episode 3, which suggests that he’s self-aware or real enough to think on his own and make his own choices and deductions – which might be why his brief moment of suspicion in episode 3 is so pivotal.
How Is Vision Alive?
Wanda’s powers are seemingly limitless at present. We’ve seen her create matter from nothing during the show, like their wedding rings or during parts of their magic act, so what’s to stop her from just creating a fully functioning Vision from her own memories? In this case, Vision would essentially be a psychically created facsimile, but one that is a living, sentient being who is truly, physically interacting with people.
Otherwise, if he is just a, well, vision then why show him zipping back and forth to fetch the doctor when Wanda’s giving birth? That would mean the doctor is also a figment, so why are the storytellers cutting away to show us this when it will only end up making viewers question the show’s own internal logic should it turn out everyone but Wanda and “Geraldine” are imaginary?
The end of episode 3 reveals that “Westview” is an actual corporeal place and that “Geraldine” is a real person. That suggests that everyone else inside the town is real as well. The Vision really being alive, even if he is just a product of Wanda’s powers, would make Agnes’ remark in the trailer that he’s dead — or at least that he’s supposed to be — all the more resonant, a suggestion that he may not actually be the same Vision the world saw battle alongside the Avengers but rather a “twin” or double of some kind.
If Vision is a product of Wanda’s ability to create matter from nothing then that could explain why he seemingly has no memories of his past or knowledge of his life before they arrived as newlyweds in Westview. Wanda would have created him — programmed him, if you will — with only the knowledge that she would want him to possess, with the character traits of his she would want to retain or augment so as to best realize their blissful sitcom life together.
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This Vision having no knowledge of his or Wanda’s lives from before the events of Avengers: Endgame would be far easier for her to control, with no way for him to remind her of that which she doesn’t want to remember. It’s enough for him to know that she is Wanda Maximoff, that she’s originally from Sokovia, she has superpowers, and she loves him. That’s why she doesn’t want him to probe too deeply into why he feels like something is amiss and thus “rewinds” the scene. (And, if he is indeed an incomplete version of Vision, the MCU could possibly take inspiration from the comics and have Vision merge with Simon Williams, aka Wonder Man, or another character.)
Alternate Universe Vision
There is another possibility of how Vision is seemingly alive in WandaVision. Rather than being a product of either Wanda’s imagination or her powers, Vision could be real but comes from an alternate universe instead of the Earth-199999 of the MCU.
With S.W.O.R.D. on the case, as they were at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home, it stands to reason that they are investigating a threat that’s cosmic in scale. Whether it’s because Wanda has somehow messed with reality or the fabric of space/time remains to be seen. Are they there to help her or to manipulate her? We could know that answer as soon as Episode 4.
We know that WandaVision ties into the plot of Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, with Wanda set to appear in that film. If her actions here have opened the proverbial Pandora’s Box of the multiverse then that would explain why she crosses paths with Doctor Strange in his sequel, perhaps as a fellow superhero who could help her learn to control her expanding powers.
If Wanda has accessed the multiverse then there could be parallel universe versions of characters who exist in Wanda’s own universe — perhaps even those who haven’t died (yet) in that reality. Like, say, Vision. And we know the door to such things happening in the MCU has already been opened with the upcoming Loki series on Disney+.
If a grieving Wanda were to somehow meet this other Vision then it’s plausible she would do anything — even warp reality itself — to live the happy life with him that she was denied. Maybe she brought this alternate Vision into our universe, a sort of cosmic transgression on Wanda’s part that could be imperiling existence itself. That would mean S.W.O.R.D. agents are being sent into Westview to contact Wanda and (gently?) snap her out of it before anything else goes wrong.
A Vision from another universe somehow upsetting the natural order of things and becoming aware of the threat he poses — something Wanda is trying to prevent him from learning by “rewinding the show” every time he gets too close to the truth — suggests that he and Wanda may very well once again be denied their Hollywood ending.
How do you think Vision has returned for WandaVision? Let us know in the comments.
For more coverage, read our WandaVision Episodes 1 and 2 review and WandaVision Episode 3 review, watch the WandaVision cast take our MCU quiz, learn about the complicated history behind Wanda’s pregnancy storyline in the comics, get the lowdown on WandaVision’s cast and characters, and all the upcoming MCU movies and TV series, and find out when the next episode of WandaVision airs.