In addition to a show-within-a-show, each of WandaVision’s episodes has featured vintage-inspired commercials advertising fictional products. In some way, they all allude to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe outside the warped bubble reality of Westview where Wanda Maximoff and Vision are now living. But do we really need them to be real products, too?
WandaVision’s first ad in “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience” spotlighted an odd, Stark-brand toaster that felt like a nod to Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta’s The Vision series. But both of the subsequent episodes, “Don’t Touch That Dial” and “Now In Colour,” have featured commercials for products manufactured by different villainous figures within the MCU. If last week’s advert for Hydra-Soak bath powder wasn’t enough to take you away from the chaos of your everyday life, WandaVision’s second episode offered up the idea of owning physical luxury in the form of a Strücker brand watch, with a commercial starring A Series Of Unfortunate Events’ Ithamar Enriquez and Doom Patrol’s Victoria Blade as the Commercial Man and Commercial Woman.
Like all of WandaVision’s commercials, the spot for the Strücker timepiece is short and provides little commentary about the text of the larger episode itself. But partway through the ad, the camera fixes itself on the watch’s face as it reads 2:42, a time that could easily mean nothing — or, if you want to extremely geek out, is possibly a nod to Roger Stern and Al Milgrom’s Avengers #242. In that issue, the recently destroyed Vision is restored with a new personality, and rejoins the Avengers alongside the Scarlet Witch just as a handful of them get sucked into Marvel’s first Secret Wars event.
It seems unlikely that WandaVision might end up dipping into Secret Wars territory, but it’s interesting to consider that the idea’s meant to be part of WandaVision’s atmosphere — not as something the characters are literally going to experience, but as historical context for the audience to think about while watching the show, in the form of these seemingly disconnected advertisements.
One imagines that that might have been part of the thought process behind Marvel’s decision to sell replicas of the Strücker watch as part of its line of WandaVision merchandise at Hot Topic. But whatever the intention may have been, you can’t really ignore the distastefulness of selling accessories meant to have been created by fictional super Nazis, especially when you consider how Marvel’s Hydra and Strücker have been explicitly framed as the company’s take on real-world Nazis — both in their original history in the comics, and in the MCU, where The First Avenger introduced them as part of the Nazi’s science division.
This is also part of why Nick Spencer’s Secret Empire — in which Captain America became Hydra’s new leader — caused people to bristle, because of the immediate question raised (and never really answered): What was to be gained by having a legacy hero like Captain America evoke fascism? There are plenty of things a story like Secret Empire had the potential to delve into, but by not really unpacking many of the ideas it was working with, the event ended up being something of a dud, and the same is similarly true of this weird collector’s item that nobody really needs.
There’s an argument to be made that by WandaVision’s end, viewers will have been reminded, and then some, how its central heroine and her deceased brother, namechecked in the latest episode, were literally tortured and turned into a weapon by Nazis attempting to create super soldiers in Age of Ultron.
Connections like Strücker being referenced at least indicate a potential for that plotline to be re-addressed as WandaVision continues. But that reminder would, one hopes, also underline how real Nazis are also bad, and not to be imitated. If that’s to be the case, it seems odd that Marvel would also invite people to slap on mass-produced, imitation Nazi jewellery, but this is what the commodification of fandom looks like.
WandaVision is now streaming on Disney+.