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Warning: SPOILERS for the WandaVision episode “Previously On” are ahead!
Although Disney+’s WandaVision got off to a relatively slow start when it premiered in mid-January, overall, the Marvel Cinematic Universe series has packed in a lot, from the Fox X-men franchise’s Evan Peters being brought in to fill in for the MCU’s Quicksilver, to Teyonah Parris’ Monica Rambeau going through her superhero origin story. At its core though, WandaVision is naturally focused on Wanda Maximoff, a.k.a. Scarlet Witch, and the most recent episode, “Previously On,” delivered a doozy on that front by not only showing how Wanda’s sitcom shenanigans in WestView came to be, but also revealing that she’s always had her magical abilities.
As a quick refresher, up until now, we’d been led to believe in the MCU that just like Pietro with his super speed, Wanda Maximoff had gained her telekinetic, telepathic and reality-altering powers when she came into contact with the Mind Stone. But as it turned out, these powers had been latent in her since childhood, and the yellow Infinity Stone instead simply fully awakened and augmented them. When CinemaBlend’s own Nick Venable asked WandaVision director Matt Shakman if it had always been the plan for Wanda’s powers to be explained this way, or if this was something specifically crafted for WandaVision, Shakman answered with the following:
Yes, I mean, this was crafted as part of the show, for sure. But it was a very early idea to go back and to be able to explore these moments of loss, and to give them the weight that they deserve. And to approach these quiet, intimate scenes that maybe wouldn’t have space in a movie where its runtime is only two hours. We’ve certainly been at Avengers headquarters before and seen them make paprikash together, and it’s charming and wonderful. But what was that one moment? What was that one moment where they really connected? And that was the opportunity to create [Episode 8's] scene at the Avengers headquarters where Vision is able to offer her comfort, and where you get to sense that are completing each other in some way, and finding that connection, that spark. But it’s also, you know, exploring her childhood and why sitcoms, and why does she find so much comfort in them? And being able to explore, also, Hydra – those moments before we get to meet her in Age of Ultron, or in the tag in Winter Soldier.
WandaVision has certainly been a worthwhile show to watch at for the MCU fans who like seeing Wanda Maximoff and Vision together, but this is first and foremost an exploration of Wanda’s trauma, particularly losing her parents, brother and the love of her life. And to be sure, compared to your average Marvel movie, WandaVision has been a quieter affair. But “Previously On,” which directly followed the reveal that Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes was really Agatha Harkness upped the stakes by not only showing what’s truly happened with Vision’s body, but revealing the truth of Wanda’s incredible abilities, which came about when putting the show together rather than having been thought up years beforehand.
Our first indication that Wanda Maximoff’s powers had always been buried deep within her came during the look back at the night that Wanda and Pietro’s parents were killed in Sokovia. Soon after, a Stark Industries landed in the ruins of their home, and the kids spent two days waiting for it to go off, but it never did. While they later attributed the shell not detonating as a mechanical failure, it turns out that the young Wanda had actually unconsciously used basic hex magic to prevent it from going off. By the end of “Previously On,” Agatha Harkness declared that Wanda was a practitioner of Chaos Magic and officially labeled her as The Scarlet Witch.
With just one episode left to go, there are a lot of loose ends for WandaVision to wrap up, including a particularly intriguing vision when we looked back at when Wanda Maximoff was being experimented on by HYDRA. When she came into contact with the Mind Stone, Wanda saw a vision of an unknown figure dressed an awful lot like how Scarlet Witch is garbed in the comics. When questioned about this vision, Matt Shakman responded:
As I said before, this is a show about looking at the past, but also a show about looking at the future. And Wanda has been on a course where she’s encountered many events that have altered her future, but there is a destiny that awaits her.
Whatever the next episode of WandaVision holds in store, it isn’t the end of her MCU journey. Elizabeth Olsen is reprising the character in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, although it remains to be seen if she’ll be an ally to Benedict Cumberbatch’s Stephen Strange or be a more antagonistic force. It’s hard to say where she’ll pop up after that, but it definitely looks like Scarlet Witch will become a more important character in the MCU going forward, be it on big or small screens.