Disclaimer: this is pure speculation on the future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). My track record of correct predictions is pretty bad. Like the protagonist in Foucault’s Pendulum, I often find myself “clinging stubbornly to an elegant but false hypothesis.” But this is how I have fun.
Fans of the MCU already know that Phase Four was the beginning of a story arc that’s being called “The Multiverse Saga.” We know Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania will officially introduce Kang the Conqueror, the multiversal villain hinted at in Loki season 1. But what if Kang isn’t the ultimate multiversal threat?
Have you ever noticed that the stories of the Marvel heroines, from Jessica Jones, to Captain Marvel, to Wanda Maximoff, are about overcoming gaslighting? I wonder if Black Widow’s solo story will follow suit, with the other assassins of the Red Room. Anyway…
WandaVision episode 7 absolved our heroine of wrongdoing with the catchiest earworm of revelations: it’s been “Agatha All Along.” While this was presented as a big reveal, was it really? There was a certain joy in the confirmation–sold entirely by Kathryn Hahn’s gleefully wicked performance. But even casual readers of Scarlet Witch comics knew that Agatha Harkness was the likely identity of “Aunty Agnes.” In the comics, Agatha was more ally and mentor than adversary, and the only time she really went against Wanda was when she removed Wanda’s memory of her “children”–who weren’t really her children at all. Ooh, now that sounds like a clue. Regardless, there are now witches in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
SPOILERS for WandaVision, through Episode 6, HBO’s Game of Thrones final season, and Season 1 of FX’s Legion, below. And speculation on the real Big Bad.
WandaVision is one of those shows that knows its audience. The show doesn’t take pains to explain the history of the Marvel Universe–we either know it already or will use our Disney+ subscription to catch up. It serves up slow-burning mystery, and it knows that its viewership includes detectives bringing to bear decades of comic book and movie scholarship. It selects an engaged audience.
So in addition to telling a story that fits solidly in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it gives us a categorization game: Easter Egg, Foreshadowing, or Red Herring?
SPOILERS for the Marvel Studios universe up through WandaVision Episode 5, and speculation beyond.
The Joy of a Slow Watch
I’ve been starved for new live-action Marvel Studios programming taking place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In the parallel quantum universe without the coronavirus pandemic, I would have already seen Black Widow, Eternals, and Shang-Chi by now. Instead, I get 30 minutes every Friday of WandaVision.
And I love it.
In an era where so much is available online, and entire seasons are released to be binge-watched, I love having to wait. Each episode, questions are answered but deeper questions are uncovered. And I have a week to speculate on the answers. This might be the most enjoyable thing about being in a slow-release fandom, and the reason why many of us loathe spoilers. We are forced to engage with open questions in a story with only our own imaginations and that of our friends. We become active participants in the storytelling process, not just passive consumers. Being a fan of a shared universe becomes an intellectual exercise, where there is a potential thrill both in having guessed right and in being surprised.
The end of WandaVision episode 5 took it to a new level.