One of the things people crave most about Marvel’s cinematic output? Connection. Where is this character during this moment, how does this event connect to a hundred other narratives? WandaVision, Marvel Studios’ first crack at bringing its movieverse to streaming television, is no exception, but it’s doing so in a way no other Marvel entry has.
WandaVision’s most recent episode — after three entries of bizarre, alienating, and at times deeply tragic introspective tales of Wanda Maximoff and her synthezoid husband in sitcom bliss — laid bare something fans have been more than ready for: just where is this all heading? The episode took a step back from the world of Westview to tell us what was going on outside of it, in ways small and large, and was the kind of thing we usually expect out of Marvel’s interconnected storytelling. Here are some characters you know from the movies! Here’s a reference to another! Somebody’s gotta say Avengers a few times, just in case you forgot that these guys were last seen either being beaten the hell up by, or beating up, Thanos!
But the most profound connection to the wider MCU in “We Interrupt This Program” isn’t Thor’s Darcy (Kat Dennings) showing up to figure out what’s going on, or the fact that Ant-Man’s Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) finally got that card trick down — it was the opening scene.
After WandaVision’s first three episodes, the series was in the position to make a choice whether to keep on focusing specifically on Wanda and Vision’s suburban bubble reality, or finally shift focus to one of its other characters like Monica Rambeau, whose perspectives might provide some important information about the...Read more
We got to see the end of what has become known as “The Blip”: the moment in Avengers: Endgame where, five years after they were snapped out of existence, Bruce Banner wielded the Infinity Gauntlet to resurrect billions of people and undo Thanos’ grand calamity. We witness Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris, who had, up to this point, appeared in WandaVision’s sitcom reality as “Geraldine”) reformed out of the ashes she too was dusted into during the events of Infinity War — but it’s not a moment of triumph as people around her come back to life. There is no peace on Monica’s face, only confusion and abject terror.
As Monica stumbles through a hospital corridor, wheeling around stunned medics and civilians, screaming for her mother Maria as people reform into existence around her, there is none of the comedy, dark or otherwise, from when we saw a version of this moment in Spider-Man: Far From Home. As befitting the suspenseful tone WandaVision had dipped into up to this point in the disconcerting moments Wanda noticed that there was something off about her blissfully eventful life in Westview, Monica’s experience of the blip feels like the closest thing Marvel has done to horror fiction. It’s claustrophobic, a lengthy corridor shot that follows Monica tightly as she barrels through and past people, just as scared and confused as she is. It’s punctuated by a hazy soundscape of screams and yells, only cut through to focus on the intensity of Monica’s heartbeat.
It’s short — maybe a minute at most, if that, between Monica’s return and her finding the doctor that treated her mother — and only gives you a few moments to breathe. The first is most harsh, when Monica violently collides with another man mid-return, momentarily rousing her from her stunned silence. The other is when she, in the sea of petrified people around her, recognises Dr. Harley, but even that moment of respite is given over to Monica’s personal horror as she learns not just what happened to her and hundreds of people around her, but that her mother has been dead for years.
For as brief as it is, its chill lingers even as the episode moves on to bigger intrigues and other connections. It’s a brilliant scene, its intent not just to connect WandaVision’s place in the grander MCU timeline but to use its laser-guided focus to map our own confusion and dread in the moment — we’ve just had three episodes of Wanda and Viz lampooning sitcoms, what the hell is this!? — onto Monica’s own experience.
Obviously, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen the ramifications of the Blip play out across different pieces of Marvel media. Endgame focused on exploring the immediate boon it provided, that suddenly all of our laid-low heroes (except for Black Widow, sorry Nat) were now back, and more than ready for a slugfest with Thanos’ forces. As previously mentioned, Spider-Man: Far From Home treated the event as more of a comedy of errors — its big-picture exploration of what would happen logistically to a world where billions of people died and came back was more of a setup for cheesy high school memorial videos and teenage antics. But it’s also where we got the Blip as a name, a darkly comedic piece of nomenclature to mark the undoing of a collective nightmare with a nonchalance that befits the Spider-Man films’ levity.
WandaVision’s take is anything but. It vitally flips the script on the tone with which this moment has been shown to us before, not just in terms of playing it as horror rather than hopeful, but by ratcheting its focus tight down onto a single character. Its use of this major moment on the tapestry of the Marvel movie timeline isn’t empty, fact-checking contextualization for the benefit of someone somewhere going on a fan wiki and adding a plot point to a list. It says something about Monica’s state of mind coming into what she’s about to experience in WandaVision as well as a reflection of the show at large’s own tonal shift between sitcom homage and the dark, stark reality acting as that homage’s subtext. It takes this big-picture idea and presents it as something deeply personal and traumatic.
There is a dread sense of inevitability in shared-universe media, that interesting things will find the Connection to the Whole come barging into the picture to sweep them out of the way, as if what we’re here for is that connective tissue instead of the meat of whatever drama we find ourselves experiencing. But WandaVision’s smart interpolation of one of the biggest events of the MCU is a great way to show how those connections can serve a much smaller-scaled drama…and throw us for a pretty terrifying loop in the process.
It isn’t until WandaVision’s second episode that Teyonah Parris actually makes her first appearance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She’s one of the many people living alongside Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in the small town of Westview, where the most pressing thing on most everyone’s mind...Read more