While Marvel’s WandaVision is packed with all sorts of little Easter eggs and references, there were also a ton of big developments that will alter the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe going into the rest of Phase 4.
We’re about to take a step way back and look at WandaVision as a whole to learn how this intimate story about family and grief will have lasting ramifications on not just these characters but the entire Marvel universe. WandaVision fundamentally changed Marvel magic, planted the seeds for new super teams, altered the trajectory of SWORD, and possibly revealed the main theme of Phase 4, but mostly, WandaVision changed the MCU forever.
Warning: full spoilers for WandaVision ahead!
Something Wicked This Way Comes
First up, let’s talk about WandaVision opened the door to the spooky side of the Marvel Universe by introducing all manner of supernatural elements. Doctor Strange may have been our first true MCU magic user, but his magic was described as the energy of the multiverse being manipulated into spells, rather than anything occult or supernatural like we’re used to seeing in Marvel’s comics. The source material is filled with all sorts of magic users, magic relics, and magic monsters, and now WandaVision is signaling that Marvel Studios is ready to unleash them on the MCU, the same way Guardians of the Galaxy eased fans into the cosmic side of things.
When Wanda Maximoff was introduced to the MCU in Avengers: Age of Ultron, she was more like goth Jean Grey with the pretty standard powers of telepathy and telekinesis, but in WandaVision, thanks to a little help from centuries-old witch Agatha Harkness, she became the Scarlet Witch proper, complete with red chaos magic and a matching cape and headpiece look, finally aligning Wanda with her comic book counterpart. Agatha was Wanda’s mentor in the comics, so it’s fitting that she was the one to teach Wanda her first hard lessons about magic in the MCU.
In fact, everything about Agatha seems to indicate the MCU is going to become a much creepier place going forward. Between the animal skulls, glowing runes, and statue of Baphomet in Agatha’s basement, we now know that satanic rituals and demonic magic now exist in the MCU–what we would call eldritch magic. This opens the door for all manner of spellcasting Marvel characters to finally make their debut.
There are heroes like Brother Voodoo, Man-Thing, Doctor Druid, Captain Britain, and Magik. Then there are the villains like Enchantress, Mephisto, Morgan le Fay, Doctor Doom, and Cthon. But no matter who shows up, we can only hope one day we get to see them all hanging out at the Bar With No Doors, Marvel’s secret Manhattan tavern only known to magic users.
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And that’s the most exciting part of all this. Marvel’s comics have developed an entire magical community over the decades, with its characters journeying to worlds of myth and exploring different aspects of witchcraft and sorcery. For years Marvel Studios played it slow with a little bit of Asgardian magic here and a little bit of Doctor Strange sparkles there, choosing to ground even its most fantastical elements in the realm of super-science, but WandaVision shows they’re ready to get witchy and weird.
Speaking of Doctor Strange, we already know his second film is going to be the MCU’s first horror movie. This is a notable change in the creative direction of the MCU, and it’s obvious now that WandaVision just laid the ghoulish groundwork for it to happen. There were unsettling moments of tension throughout WandaVision as the cracks in its fake TV world began to show, and Wanda descending into Agatha’s basement was a rare moment of true dread. Normally the MCU plays it safe by sticking to the action-comedy formula it does so well, but given how Elizabeth Olsen will return as the newly minted Scarllet Witch in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and she’s now armed with chaos magic, Agatha’s occult lessons, and the Darkhold–not to mention she’s fated to one day end the world!–we can see how WandaVision is the first step on a path leading to the MCU embracing a darker vibe.
New Marvel Teams, Assemble!
It was a surprise for fans to see Phase 4 does not include the next Avengers movie. But worry not, True Believers, there are plenty of other potential team ups on the horizon, and they appear to be spawning from the influx of dark magic WandaVision introduced.
Such as, the Midnight Sons or the Avengers of the Supernatural, groups featuring a grab bag of supernatural heroes who team up on occasion to put a stop to things that go bump in the night.
Then there’s the Salem’s Seven, who in the comics are a group of magically mutated beings led by the son of Agatha Harkness, Nicholas Scratch. Agatha’s pet rabbit was named Senor Scratchy, so perhaps that was a hint the rabbit was actually her son magically transformed into an animal. Maybe he’ll go find the members of the Salem Seven and bring them back to Westview to save dear old mom, then help her get revenge against the Scarlet Witch.
And if Wanda saves Billy and Tommy from whatever dark void they were shouting out of in the WandaVision stinger, they could age themselves up to teenagers and assume their superhero aliases, Wiccan and Speed, to form the Young Avengers team from the comics along with the other teen heroes of the MCU.
The formation of the Young Avengers would be a landmark moment in the MCU, potentially introducing our next generation of heroes. The original Avenger s mad e their mark on the world, and now these young heroes would suit up because they were inspired by those heroic feats. The MCU is now old enough to have a sense of legacy, as old heroes pass on the torch to new ones. That certainly seems to be the premise of the upcoming Hawkeye show. And we have a feeling Tommy and Billy will be an important part of a new generation fated to one day take over the MCU.
Wiccan in particular has the potential to make a huge impact. He has incredible magical power just like his mother. His alien boyfriend becomes Emperor of the Kree and Skrulls. And in certain future Marvel timelines, he goes on to become the Sorcerer Supreme.
It’s also worth noting, in the Avengers: The Children’s Crusade comic, Billy and Tommy uncover the truth that the one responsible for Wanda’s powers going berserk was none other than Doctor Doom. Many WandaVision viewers have their own pet theories about who was the mastermind behind it all, so who knows, maybe one day we’ll find out it was the infamous Fantastic Four villain.
Suffice to say, the MCU is going to look a lot different and be a lot more crowded than it was before, and WandaVision is a big reason why.
SWORD and Spacery
With new, strange things creeping into the MCU, someone has to answer the call, and so WandaVision offered us our first proper introduction to SWORD. Given how SHIELD was dismantled and the UN has not exactly been doing a great job dealing with a world of super-powered beings, SWORD is the first sign of order emerging from the chaos, and thanks to WandaVision, we can see how the organization is charting a new course for the MCU–into the stars.
While a small number of the MCU’s stories have taken place in space already, Earth’s mightiest heroes have yet to establish their presence in the cosmos. That’s where SWORD comes in. In the comics, SWORD stands for Sentient World Observation Response Division and essentially acts as SHIELD in space, monitoring alien threats and standing guard against the evils of the galaxy.
However, in WandaVision the “W” stands for Weapon, and that’s because when Acting Director Tyler Hayward took over, he changed their focus to robotics, AI, and nanotechnology. Hayward explains he effectively grounded SWORD by ceasing all manned missions into space, all in order to create weapons to deal with otherworldly threats. That runs counter to what we know about SWORD, and in the Spider-Man: Far From Home stinger we even saw Nick Fury aboard what is all but confirmed to be a SWORD space station, so what gives?
Remember, WandaVision takes place a few weeks after Avengers: Endgame, whereas Far From Home was set eight months after. The SWORD we saw in WandaVision clearly undergoes some big changes in the foll owing eight months to establish a base in space. And the reason for the shake-up? It’s gotta be Monica Rambeau.
As we learned in WandaVision, Monica’s mother Maria Rambeau founded SWORD so mankind would have a foothold in space to work with alien allies and defend against alien threats. With Hayward now out of power, Monica seems poised to take over SWORD and restore its purpose to her mother’s original vision. Much like MCU Wanda started in an unfamiliar place before transforming into a more comic book accurate version, it appears the same thing is happening with SWORD. And given how WandaVision’s mid-credits scene shows Monica receiving orders to join a certain someone up in space, it seems clear she will be the force driving SWORD’s changes.
You have to admit, Monica certainly seems like a strong candidate for the job of Director. She showed good judgment and unwavering tenacity while dealing with the Maximoff Anomaly. She has firsthand experience handling a god-level threat and successfully helped ensure the incident ended without bloodshed. Plus, she just got some fancy electromagnetic spectrum powers that will give her empathy for others with superpowers and allow her to keep others superpowered threats in check with her own two glowing eyeballs. And seeing how she’s probably on her way to team up with Nick Fury, who better to prep her for running SWORD than the man who ran SHIELD?
So while SWORD was already unsheathed in Far From Home, WandaVision gave us our first real look at how it works and operates, and the superhero origin of the woman poised to change it for the better.
The Blip Heard Around the Universe
Even though Spider-Man: Far From Home played the Blip for laughs, WandaVision portrayed the true, realistic horror of that moment. Revisiting the Blip again in WandaVision shows that even though the Infinity Saga wrapped up in Avengers: Endgame, Marvel is dedicated to exploring the fallout of everything that happened and the impact it had on its characters. To us, the Snap, the Blip and the war with Thanos happened in movies from a few years ago, but WandaVision reminds us the tragedy is still a fresh wound for the citizens of the MCU–one they’ll be dealing with for a long time.
WandaVision is a testament to how, even though Marvel likes its jokes, they understand the kind of trauma Thanos’ master plan inflicted on the world. This could, perhaps, be a sign that Marvel is going to let that tragic event inform the tone and story of the rest of Phase 4. It was a given to any comic book reader that WandaVision was going to explore Wanda’s pain and grief over losing Vision, but it was a surprise to see Monica’s origin tied to Thanos’ assault on the universe, as we saw when she re-materialized in the Blip to learn her mother had passed away in the intervening five years. Their shared sense of loss ended up forging a bond between Monica and Wanda, one that helped pull Wanda back from the edge.
With many more Phase 4 Marvel shows and films on the way, WandaVision has set a precedent for how they can showcase the continued fallout of what Thanos did. The ongoing continuity of the MCU is one of its greatest strengths, so it makes sense for the cataclysmic events of the Infinity Saga to have a ripple effect.
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But the future of Marvel won’t be all doom and gloom. Take the upcoming She-Hulk show, for example. When she’s not smashing things as a superhero, Jennifer Walters is a lawyer, and Kevin Feige has described She-Hulk as a half hour legal comedy. So if half of Earth’s population disappeared one day and reappeared five years later, confused and litigious, there’d be no shortage of ridiculous cases for She-Hulk to take.
Then there’s the question of how the greater Marvel universe was affected by the Blip. Monica Rambeau seems to be heading to space, and we know we’ll see her again in Captain Marvel 2, so perhaps while she’s out in the cosmos, we will learn how the rest of the universe is coping with the Blip, as well.
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier is the next project in the MCU pipeline, and given that both Sam and Bucky were snapped away, they’ve probably got plenty of their own issues to sort out. WandaVision gives us the confidence that when it does come time for these boys to talk about their feelings, it’ll be given the proper weight and care… if they ever stop bickering.
While WandaVision is only our first look at what Phase 4 has to offer, it told us volumes about what to expect going forward. Originally Black Widow was supposed to be the first entry in Phase 4, but perhaps it’s fitting that WandaVision came first instead. It’s a story about processing your pain and learning how to move on from it, and it looks like that will be a running theme as the MCU takes us into the next phase.
For more on WandaVision, here’s the WandaVision writer and director’s answers to fans’ biggest burning questions, our full WandaVision season review, and why a certain Marvel bad guy didn’t show up.
Joshua is a Senior Editor and Producer of Features at IGN. If Pokemon, Green Lantern, or Star Wars are frequently used words in your vocabulary, you’ll want to follow him on Twitter @JoshuaYehl and IGN.