The penultimate episode of WandaVision finally answered one of the series’ longstanding questions by explaining how the Westview hex came into being. The answer was not Mephisto, the Nexus, or Agatha all along: It was Wanda’s unyielding grief manifesting as pure chaos magic. The moments leading up to that explanation are some of the finest emotional beats in the MCU, which is interesting because almost all of them take place between the events of the franchise’s extant films.
For the first time, Wanda’s behind-the-scenes pain took precedence over the world-changing events of the Avengers movies and the result is a compelling case for watching every single Wanda Maximoff scene in the MCU all over again. The context of Wanda’s repeated traumas, as shown in episode 8, makes both her and Vision more interesting in retrospect, which is frankly a brilliant move for a media franchise that requires its fans to look forwards and backwards to get the complete story.
For example, seeing Wanda and her brother Pietro (the real one) as children in WandaVision changes the way their first full appearance in Avengers: Age of Ultron lands. When their parents were alive, Pietro was loud and rambunctious, the kind of brother who would tease his sister for her television choices. In Ultron, Pietro rarely raises his voice and is constantly reaching for and holding on to Wanda like a human teddy bear. Their close bond seemed normal-ish for adult twins who experienced trauma, but knowing that Pietro matured from a happy, stomping child to a grown man who can’t bear to be away from his sister makes his early death more tragic.
For all of WandaVision’s setting up of the future of the MCU, its best episodes encourage MCU fans to look equally as closely at the franchise’s past.
After losing Pietro, Wanda lives with the Avengers in their upstate New York compound in a fog of grief. In a scene apparently set between Age of Ultron and Captain America: Civil War, Vision and Wanda discuss her grief, with Vision learning how to articulate human emotions while she opens up about her pain. Vision’s too-long stare and awkwardly satisfied grin when he gets Wanda to laugh is one of the sweetest, most romantic expressions of love any Avenger has shown on screen, and watching him fall head over heels for Wanda makes their fast-forwarded relationship in later movies more believable.
The heartbreaking reveal that Wanda’s Westview house actually sits on the empty lot Vision purchased for them before his death is a gut punch in WandaVision episode 8, but it also recontextualizes Vision’s sacrifice in Avengers: Infinity War. He must have bought the house before meeting Wanda in Scotland for their last date night, which means he asked Wanda to kill him knowing he’d never get the chance to tell her about his plans. When Vision says, “You could never hurt me, I just feel you” in his last moments, he’s choosing to comfort his soulmate rather than mourn their imagined future.
Either way, episode 8 imbues Wanda’s previous appearances in the MCU with retroactive meaning, adding rewatch value to previously released films and filling in the emotional blanks left by the constraints of superhero team-up storytelling. It’s not a coincidence that Disney+ prompts users to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron when the WandaVision credits minimize — it’s an open invitation to take a second look at Wanda’s story and see if one’s perception of her has changed after watching the TV show.
That’s a great trick, really. For all of WandaVision’s setting up of potentially huge plot points for the future of the MCU — hinting at the multiverse, identifying Wanda’s chaos magic and naming her the Scarlet Witch, introducing the concept of human witches as historical powered beings — its best episodes encourage MCU fans to look equally as closely at the franchise’s past. Lucky for those fans, the MCU’s past is easily browsable in the same app they use to watch WandaVision in the first place. The multiverse may not be confirmed, but every dimension of Marvel’s world exists to be explored on Disney+.
WandaVision is streaming on Disney+.