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Marvel's 'WandaVision' Is 'Unlike Anything Else'
'WandaVision' costars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany share insight into the exciting new Marvel TV series.
Warning: This story contains spoilers through WandaVision episode 9, "The Series Finale."
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has always loved an Easter egg, but WandaVision takes that tradition to an obsessive new level. Every episode of Marvel's first Disney+ show is packed with hidden references and meanings, whether the show is paying tribute to famous TV sitcoms, calling back to other moments in the MCU, or sneaking in allusions to classic Marvel comics.
Trying to unravel all of the show's hidden meanings feels a bit like being Jimmy Woo, frantically scribbling on his whiteboard and trying to find connections. Here, we're breaking down a few of the many WandaVision Easter eggs you might have missed in each episode.
EPISODE 1: "Filmed Before A Live Studio Audience"
—WandaVision's sitcom pastiche starts in the late '50s and early '60s, riffing on black-and-white classics like I Love Lucy and The Dick Van Dyke Show. The latter is the most obvious source material, from the layout of Wanda and Vision's home to the shot of Vision phasing through the ottoman — a direct reference to Van Dyke's famous stumble in the Dick Van Dyke Show's opening credits.
—During the dinner party with the Harts, there's a lingering shot of the wine bottle label, reading Maison du Mepris. The name roughly translates to "House of Contempt," which feels like a distinct reference to the comic House of M. Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel's iconic series is one of the most famous Scarlet Witch storylines, following Wanda as she suffers a mental breakdown and alters reality around her. House of M looms large over all of WandaVision, from the storyline to the visuals. (The shifting puzzle pieces of the end credits even look a lot like Joe Quesada's famous House of M cover.)
—The first episodes make almost no mention of Wanda and Vision's life pre-Westview, but Wanda's joke about "my husband and his indestructible head" is a pointed reference to Vision's death in Avengers: Infinity War, when Thanos crushed his skull and ripped the Mind Stone from his forehead.
—Numbers are a recurring theme throughout WandaVision, and one of the first we see is Wanda and Vision's address number: 2800. In Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta's Vision comic series — another major influence for the show — Vision and his family live at 616, a reference to Earth-616, the universe where most Marvel comic book characters live. Might WandaVision be suggesting that it takes place in a different universe, Earth-2800?
The first episode also introduces another WandaVision motif: in-universe commercial breaks. Every ad alludes to a major moment in Wanda's life, and the first one, an ad for Stark Industries' Toast Mate 2000, calls back to Wanda's childhood, when she and her brother Pietro were trapped in the rubble of their childhood home, next to a blinking bomb. Like the toaster, that bomb was manufactured by Stark Industries, and both feature a blinking red light. (It's also the first time we see color in the heretofore black-and-white show — and it's no accident that it's red, the color of Wanda's powers.)
EPISODE 2: "Don't Touch That Dial"
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
—With episode 2, WandaVision's sitcom world moves into the late '60s, taking inspiration from shows like Bewitched and I Dream of Jeannie — two iconic stories about a magical woman trying to fit into a normal life. (Kathryn Hahn's neighbor Agnes also has strong Gladys Kravitz energy.)
—This episode's opening theme song is another heavy reference to Bewitched, with its zippy melody and animated style. The animation itself has a few blink-and-you'll-miss-it references to moments from the comics, like fake ads in the supermarket for "Bova Milk" and "Auntie A's Kitty Litter." In the comics, Bova Ayrshire is a talking cow who served as Wanda's mom's midwife, and Auntie A seems like a pointed reference to Agatha Harkness (more on her later!). The animated credits also briefly feature what looks like Grim Reaper's helmet — a foe of Vision's from the comics.
Our second commercial is a glossy ad for a Strucker watch, referencing HYDRA baddie Wolfgang von Strucker. In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we learn that von Strucker is responsible for experimenting on Wanda and Pietro, which gave them their superpowers. (Also worth noting: The watch's hands are over the numbers 2 and 8 — which makes this the second time we've seen those numbers in the show.)
EPISODE 3: "Now In Color"
—And so we move into the 1970s! All that wood paneling and the orange and teal color scheme make Wanda and Vision's new digs seem right out of The Brady Bunch or All in the Family. (That staircase is pure Brady.) The show even pokes fun at the classic trope of trying to hide an actress' pregnancy on screen by donning oversized coats and holding random objects.
—The episode ends with the birth of Wanda and Vision's twins, Tommy and Billy. In the comics, the two brothers have a wild history, and they eventually become superheroes in their own right, known as Speed and Wiccan.
This week's ad is for Hydra Soak, a bubbly bath powder whose logo has a familiar HYDRA octopus. The soap promises to help you "escape to a world all your own, where your problems float away," alluding to how HYDRA's experimentation unlocked Wanda's powers and let her start a new life — or how Wanda has run away from her problems by escaping into the fantasy world of Westview.
EPISODE 4: "We Interrupt This Program"
—Our first episode set entirely in "the real world" reintroduces a few familiar MCU faces: Teyonah Parris' Monica Rambeau (first seen as a child in Captain Marvel), Randall Park's Jimmy Woo (introduced in Ant-Man and the Wasp), and Kat Dennings' Darcy Lewis (from the original Thor movies). Notably, Park and Dennings are accomplished sitcom veterans themselves, thanks to Fresh Off the Boat and 2 Broke Girls.
—We learn that Monica's mom, Maria Rambeau, founded S.W.O.R.D., and there's a brief closeup of her name and her old Air Force callsign: "Photon." In the comics, Monica is a superhero who goes by several names over the years, but she's perhaps best known as — you guessed it — Photon.
—Apparently Jimmy has been practicing his close-up magic and has perfected Scott Lang's card trick from Ant-Man and the Wasp.
—Also, shoutout to Jimmy for his methodical whiteboard theorizing. Not only does he point out the Westview anomaly's hexagon shape — a recurring motif seen throughout the show — but he also wonders if Skrulls might be behind this whole thing, calling back to the shape-shifting villains (who turned out to be not all that villainous) in Captain Marvel.
EPISODE 5: "On a Very Special Episode"
Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios
—Welcome to the '80s! After kicking the episode off with a long, era-appropriate ballad, WandaVision moves into one of the genre's golden eras, taking inspiration from the classic shows of the '80s and early '90s like Family Ties and Growing Pains.
—Notably, WandaVision director Matt Shakman has a particular tie to the era: He himself was a child actor, who starred on the Growing Pains spin-off Just the Ten Of Us.
—And of course, we can't talk about iconic '80s/'90s sitcoms without talking about Full House, starring Elizabeth Olsen's sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley. (Two famous twins, whose show is now being parodied on a show about multiple sets of twins. Meta!) The picnic shot in this episode's theme song is a particularly obvious nod to the iconic Full House opening.
—This episode also briefly introduces (and then immediately kills off) the dog Sparky — which is the same name as the dog in Tom King's Vision series.
—There are several fake credits that roll throughout the show: Some of them seem to be purely made up, but others, like this one, are packed with real names, referencing various Marvel crew members.
—Introducing… Pietro Maximoff! Evan Peters makes a surprise appearance as Wanda's long-lost brother, but his casting has a meta twist. Peters, of course, played a version of Quicksilver in Fox's X-Men movies, while the MCU's version was played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Not only is Peters' involvement an obvious nod to that franchise, but it's also a commentary on the very nature of sitcom recasting: Think of Aunt Viv on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air or Darrin Stephens on Bewitched.
The commercial breaks return, this time hawking Lagos paper towels — "for when you make a mess you didn't mean to!" This is a not-so-secret reference to the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, where Wanda joins the Avengers on a mission to Lagos, Nigeria. While trying to contain an explosion and stop a group of mercenaries, Wanda's powers inadvertently bring down a nearby building, killing several civilians and sparking the Sokovia Accords — which led to the team's ugly breakup and the conflict between Captain America and Iron Man.
EPISODE 6: "All-New Halloween Spooktacular!"
Suzanne Tenner/Marvel Studios
—WandaVision mostly skips right over the '90s and goes straight to the early '00s, riffing on the chaotic family dynamic of Malcolm in the Middle. Even the fonts in the opening credits are a perfect match.
—This episode also introduces a familiar TV tradition: the holiday episode! It's Halloween in Westview, which means it's time for a costume change. Wanda and Vision claim to be dressing up as a Sokovian fortune teller and a Mexican wrestler respectively, but any comic fan will immediately recognize those colorful costumes as their original duds from the comics. Pietro also nods to his original look, donning a silver-and-blue getup and spray painting his hair silver.
—The adults aren't the only ones with meaningful costumes: Billy and Tommy also dress up in familiar outfits. Tommy (who becomes Speed) follows in the footsteps of his lightning-fast uncle, while Billy (who becomes Wiccan) puts on the red cloak and thick headband he wears in the comics.
—While talking to Pietro, Wanda pointedly says the word Kick-Ass, which happens to be the name of Matthew Vaughn's 2010 superhero movie — a superhero movie that stars both Aaron Taylor-Johnson (original Pietro) and Evan Peters (new Pietro). Talk about a crossover!
—While the Maximoffs go trick-or-treating around Westview, we see that the local movie theater is currently showing The Incredibles (a movie about a superhero family) and The Parent Trap (a movie about twins — and fake identities).
None of the commercials deal with particularly cheery events in Wanda's past, but this one — an ad for Yo-Magic yogurt — is especially bleak. A young island castaway is given a yogurt cup by a shark, but he's unable to open the gift, and he ultimately dies of starvation. This one's a little cryptic, but it could be referring to how most HYDRA volunteers died when exposed to the Mind Stone. Only a select few — like Wanda and Pietro — were able to withstand the experimentation, unlocking their inner powers.
EPISODE 7: "Breaking the Fourth Wall"
—For our final sitcom parody, we move to the late '00s. Wanda does her best Julie Bowen impression as the show pays tribute to the fourth-wall breaks and confessional interviews of Modern Family. The lyricless theme song also has a distinctly Modern Family vibe, along with shows like The Office and Happy Endings (a show that Infinity War/Endgame directors Joe and Anthony Russo and WandaVision director Matt Shakman all worked on).
—Take a close look at the license plate in the opening credits: The numbers 12-28-22 represent Marvel icon Stan Lee's birthday.
—While wandering her kitchen having a mental breakdown, Wanda pours herself a bowl of "Sugar Snaps" — a reference to Thanos' universe-altering snap, no doubt. (The box also has a clown mascot on it, presumably alluding to the fate of the S.W.O.R.D. agents who got swept up in the Hex and joined the circus.)
—Many characters speak and make eye contact with the camera in this episode, but at one point, Vision does his best John Krasinski and gives a knowing glance to the audience that feels straight out of The Office.
—Wanda and Vision aren't the only ones with superpowers: Monica's journey into the Hex seemingly rewrites her DNA, giving her the energy powers she has in the comics. While pushing through the boundary, we hear audio flashbacks from Captain Marvel, featuring the voices of Lashana Lynchs' Maria Rambeau, Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury, and Brie Larson's Captain Marvel herself.
—In addition to being a bona fide bop, "Agatha All Along" pays tribute to the spooky sitcom themes of the past, like The Munsters and The Addams Family.
The final commercial is cheery promotion for Nexus, described as "a unique antidepressant that works to anchor you back to your reality — or the reality of your choice." It's an obvious reference to how Wanda has escaped into a false reality to avoid confronting her grief, but it also has a deeper meaning: In the comics, the Nexus of All Realities is a portal that leads to various realities and dimensions.
EPISODE 8: "Previously On"
Marvel Studios Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Kathryn Hahn as Agatha Harkness in 'WandaVision.'
—Kathryn Hahn's Agatha Harkness takes the spotlight in the very first moments of this episode, as the familiar Marvel Studios logo turns purple to match her powers. Not only do we learn about her magical history as a witch in Salem in 1693, but we also get the story behind her brooch — which she took from her mother's desiccated body and wears in every episode.
—This episode explains Wanda's lifelong obsession with the comforting powers of sitcom TV, but there are also clues hidden in the particular shows she watches. The episode of The Dick Van Dyke Show she chooses is one of the show's most famous: season 2's "It May Look Like a Walnut." The episode follows Rob Petrie (Van Dyke) as he obsesses over a TV sci-fi movie about aliens invading earth through disguised walnuts — to the point where he starts to believe that his own family and neighborhood have been taken over. In the end, the false reality he's constructed in his head turns out to be nothing but a dream — sound familiar?
—The Brady Bunch episode Wanda watches also has a hidden meaning: It's the season 1 ep "Kitty Karry-All Is Missing," where Cindy loses her toy doll (whom she views as a real baby). Might it be foreshadowing Wanda losing her children, who may or may not actually exist outside the Hex? (And on a lighter note, it's also a callback to episode 3, where Viz practices his diaper-changing skills on a doll that looks a lot like Kitty Karry-All.)
—Color and costume choices continue to be important to this show: In flashbacks, we see child Wanda and Pietro in their familiar color schemes of red and bluish silver. We also see Wanda's mom playfully put her hands over her eyes — which feels like a nod to the "traditional Sokovian greeting" in episode 1.
—Here's a sad one: When Wanda storms into S.W.O.R.D. headquarters and uses her magic to scan Vision's lifeless body, she tears up and says, "I can't feel you." It's a heartbreaking parallel to Vision's last words in Avengers: Infinity War, when she moves to destroy the Mind Stone in his forehead, and he reassures her that he doesn't feel pain: "I just feel you."
—The red heart Vision drew on the deed to their Westview house pops up a few times throughout the series: First on the calendar in episode 1, and then again on another calendar in the opening to episode 7.
—Wanda's Audi has a New York state license plate — with Stan Lee's familiar catchphrase "Excelsior."
—When Wanda first transforms Westview and sends the town hurtling back to the 1950s, we see a few key changes. First, when Wanda uses her magic to build the house around her, snapping bricks into place like puzzle pieces, that imagery looks a whole lot like the familiar aesthetic from House of M. Around town, an ad painted on a wall now touts another Lagos cleaning product that will "Make cleaning a snap!" — yet another reference to Lagos, Nigeria, and Thanos. And finally, the local movie theater's marquee changes from saying "Tannhauser Gate" (a reference to Blade Runner) to now showing the movies Big Red and Kidnapped — teasing that the town is now being held hostage by "Big Red" herself, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch.
EPISODE 9: "The Series Finale"
Marvel Studios Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision in 'WandaVision'
—And so the curtain falls on everyone's favorite sitcom-obsessed superhero family. The final episode ditches the sitcom style for more traditional Marvel action, but there are still a few hidden references to catch — like that familiar movie theater marquee. The theater is now advertising 2013's Oz the Great and Powerful. Which was directed by… Sam Raimi! Who'll be returning to the superhero world with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in 2022.
—There's also another little nod to Oz, when Wanda throws a car at Agatha and sends her crashing into a house. They're no ruby slippers, but Agatha's black boots sure bring to mind a certain Wicked Witch who had a house dropped on her.
—Speaking of the Sorcerer Supreme, he gets name-checked in this episode when Agatha tells Wanda that the Scarlet Witch is even more powerful than Benedict Cumberbatch's wizard. Elizabeth Olsen is confirmed to star in Multiverse, and the final credits scene shows Wanda taking a page from Strange's, uh, book, using astral projection to study the Darkhold while her physical body is elsewhere. Agatha warns that the Scarlet Witch is destined to destroy the world, so will Doctor Strange be teaming up with Wanda — or will he be trying to stop her? (Also: Wanda's middle-of-nowhere meditations are interrupted by the voices of her sons, crying out for help. I doubt we've seen the last of Billy and Tommy.)
—The finale's other credits scene centers on Monica Rambeau, who comes face to face with a Skrull disguised as an FBI agent. She informs Monica that one of her mom's friends wants to meet with her in space — presumably either Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) or the Skrull Talos (Ben Mendelsohn). Either way, it's a setup for Captain Marvel 2, which is being directed by Nia DaCosta and stars Brie Larson's Captain Marvel and Iman Vellani's Ms. Marvel.