In the midst of the Emmy Awards last night, Marvel surprised comic book nerds and moon hexers alike by dropping the first trailer for WandaVision, the studio’s upcoming Disney+ series featuring the Avengers’ strangest couple. We always knew WandaVision was going to be, to quote Maria Hill, “weird,” but from the looks of the trailer, it’s going to be so much more than that.
WandaVision’s first trailer is the sort of thing that reads completely differently depending on the degree to which you’re familiar with the characters’ histories in the comics and how much Nick @ Night or TV Land you grew up watching. If this new look is any indication, the show (starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) is going to be exquisitely dense, and so, like the Scarlet Witch, we broke things down a bit in order to suss out what might be coming down the pipeline.
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The pair are every bit your prototypical American sitcom TV couple, with the obvious oddity being that Wanda and Vision aren’t a pair of characters plucked out of I Love Lucy or Leave It to Beaver. Up until this point, it was rather safe to assume that Vision was quite dead following the events of Infinity War, but here he is, dipping his wife and wearing a wristwatch as if nothing’s amiss.
As Vision remarks what a wholesome couple they are, Wanda explains that wherever it is they are, it’s meant to be their new home, and expresses her desire that they “fit in.” The trailer cuts to an interesting moment in which Wanda works a bit of Bewitched-era TV magic and transforms Vision’s synthezoid face into that of a man who looks astonishingly like Paul Bettany. The Vision wanting to live something akin to a human life echoes the character’s arc in Tom King’s The Vision series, but the fact that Wanda’s able to make the transformation happen by wiggling her fingers is of particular note because of who pops up next.
Let’s put a pin in Kathryn Hahn’s character for a moment, as this scene is much more interesting once you’ve made it to the end of things.
As Vision and Wanda settle in to have dinner with a pair of their new neighbours (portrayed by Fred Melamed and Debra Jo Rupp), canned audience laughter that seems to be part of the show’s odd reality makes itself known, and WandaVision makes its first obvious nod to the fact that something’s not quite right with the newlyweds. When pressed about their history, neither Wanda nor Vision can precisely recall their pasts, which increasingly upsets one of their dinner guests to the point of shouting.
Wanda’s very shocked stare directly into the camera hints that, on some level, she might be aware of what’s going on and that she’s centered within a reality shaped by television tropes. Her voiceover in the next shot implies that she’s not fully aware of what precisely is happening to her and Vision, which tracks as you see the two of them marveling at the black and white world around them becoming colorized a la Pleasantville, before a series of clips depict them dancing, and then cradling their newborn babies, doing something Kathryn Hahn’s character finds funny, and then perhaps getting ready for Halloween in classic Avengers costumes. The entire sequence creates the effect of rapidly flipping through television channels in search of something good to watch.
But again, all of this is weird, and WandaVision’s trailer establishes that at some point, Visions’s going to begin questioning things as he — in his synthezoid form — ventures out into their desaturated neighbourhood to see that nobody else is moving…as if someone hit the pause button on them.
One of the frozen citizens Vision interacts with is Kathryn Hahn’s character whose identity hasn’t officially been revealed — Marvel’s only described her as being a sort of nosy neighbour figure, which tracks with her early appearances in Wanda and Vision’s home. Her being dressed like a witch here and being a constant presence in Wanda’s life strongly suggests that she’s the MCU’s answer to Agatha Harkness, Wanda’s magical mentor in Marvel’s comics.
The woman reanimates when Vision touches her and appears to use a bit of his own power to jumpstart her, and the first thing she asks, much to his alarm, is whether or not she’s dead. She asks because she knows that he’s dead, and while Hahn’s witch cackle is a lovely bit of acting, the woman’s declaration is the important bit. WandaVision is clearly pulling from both the House of M storyline in which the Scarlet Witch suffers a mental breakdown and completely rewrites reality to give everyone what they want, and Tom King’s Vision series in which Vision made a go at living the domestic life by moving to Virginia, buying a home, and building a nuclear family from scratch.
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Vision-esque as WandaVision appears to be, the series is clearly more focused on what’s happening with Wanda. Because the MCU’s Scarlet Witch hasn’t exactly demonstrated a powerset allowing her to full-on rewrite reality, there’s a chance that the show’s going to approach House of M in a slightly different way suitable for the live-action universe. Hahn’s character stating that the Vision’s dead implies that she’s aware of the larger world, such as the events of Infinity War. It opens up the possibility that the entire town isn’t necessarily a construct of Wanda’s mind, or even an alternate world, but rather a real place on the MCU’s Earth that she’s taken over using the psychic abilities she hasn’t demonstrated since Age of Ultron. It’s also worth noting that Hahn’s character coming into Wanda’s orbit unexpectedly means she’s just a regular person who got caught up in the mess. She could very well be a witch seizing on an opportunity to cause a little chaos, and Elizabeth Olsen has stated that WandaVision will finally establish how and why Wanda comes to be known as the Scarlet Witch.
There’s a quick look at Vision wearing a low budget version of his classic comic costume as a group of neighbourhood children run by in what looks to be Halloween, and another shot of Wanda using her powers to straight-up transform pieces of her furniture into more modern versions of themselves. Vision’s stroll through the neighbourhood very strongly evokes the first issue of Bill Mantlo, Rick Leonardi, and Bob Sharen’s Vision and the Scarlet Witch, in which the couple moves to Leonia, New Jersey (of all places) just in time to walk through the neighbourhood for fall festivities. It’s interesting to note that as things change around Wanda, they all take on a curious television static-y quality, making it unclear whether what she’s interacting with is real or not.
The trailer’s final moments — Vision and Wanda sitting happily on their couch — are nice, but the real money shot actually features Teyonah Parris’ adult Monica Rambeau. We can see her forcibly flung out of whatever space Wanda’s in by Wanda, as evidenced by the swirls of red energy pushing her back, and flies by yet another “Welcome” sign and crashes into the ground. She wakes up surrounded by a group of armed members of the military who’ve converged on whatever anomaly is at the centre of WandaVision, and it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Monica ends becoming involved in this accidentally or whether she’s working with the military specifically to deal with the situation. Given Monica’s powers in the comics, it’s interesting to consider whether WandaVision will be how her cinematic equivalent becomes a superpowered hero, or whether she’ll come into the series already operating as a cape specializing in these sorts of dangerous situations.
Off-kilter a show as WandaVision wants to be, there’s likely plenty more to the series that will play a key role in its plot and shape the future of the MCU. People forget that whenever Wanda has episodes like these, they don’t exactly happen in a vacuum, and there’s always a villain lurking not too far from her when she’s most vulnerable. Whether WandaVision ends up sticking to that fact and introduces a proper foe for her to face (Kathryn Hahn has quite the range, mind you, and witches can be complicated), or if it instead decides to focus solely on Wanda and Vision is one of the bigger questions still looming.
Similarly, the trailer also doesn’t answer exactly when WandaVision will drop other than “soon.” But with the series’ original premiere date having been in December (and Falcon and the Winter Soldier being delayed), that means it could be much sooner than we think.