It's a bittersweet week for lovers of Marvel, new and old.
WandaVision ends its critically acclaimed and highly popular first season this week, meaning we're about to get the answers we've been craving all season, but we also have to say goodbye to what we've come to know as WandaVision Fridays. Starting March 19, they'll be known as Falcon and Winter Soldier Fridays, but that doesn't quite have the same ring to it just yet.
(Spoilers for episode eight below!)
If you've been watching, you know there's a lot going on. In her grief after watching her robot boyfriend Vision (Paul Bettany) die (twice), Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) had a breakdown that resulted in the creation of a full sitcom world and a fully functioning version of her dead boyfriend, created totally from scratch using some of the most powerful magic that can possibly exist. Her kids (who might have also been created by magic) are being held hostage by an ancient witch named Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn).
Help, in the form of a newly superpowered Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), may be coming, but it's held up by the fake version of Wanda's dead brother (Evan Peters). Vision is on his way to help his wife, but outside of his hex, his real body has been revived by the obviously evil S.W.O.R.D. Director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg), and there's no way that's going to turn out well.
As if that weren't enough to follow, the show is filled with references and Easter Eggs for movies and comics in and out of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so if you haven't done a rewatch or haven't ever even done a watch, it's been extremely easy to miss things. With the promise that WandaVision has connections to the second Doctor Strange, the Loki series and the third Spider-Man, it all becomes a little overwhelming.
That's why we've put together a cheat sheet with all the Marvel backstory you need, whether you're a movie fan or not, to enjoy the finale and whatever's coming next in the world of Marvel. We didn't dive too deep into fan theories and, as Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) would say, it's an oversimplification of events, but hopefully it will be of some assistance.
So take a scroll, and be sure to come back after the finale is out for any new revelations it may bring.
When does WandaVision take place?
WandaVision takes place just a few weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame, when Wanda joined the other Avengers to fight against Thanos. Wanda was one of the millions of beings who had been affected by the Blip—she was snapped away while she was crying over Vision's body—so to her, the battle in Endgame happened just after she had been forced to kill Vision in Infinity War, then forced to watch Thanos kill him a second time. It's safe to say Wanda has not had time to process any grief yet, which explains how she ended up having a breakdown and creating a lovely sitcom universe for herself and her dead robot boyfriend.
The show actually is set before the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home, which was set months after the Blip.
What is the Blip (or what was happening with Monica at the hospital)?
For anyone not fully up on their MCU, the opening of episode four might have been rather confusing. It showed Monica waking up in a hospital full of chaos. People were running around like crazy as Monica wondered where her sick mother had gone. A familiar doctor then informed her that her mother had died three years ago, which was two years after Monica had disappeared.
What the doctor did not elaborate on was the fact that half of the whole universe had also disappeared along with Monica, and then they suddenly all returned to the place they disappeared from five years later. This is all thanks to Thanos (Josh Brolin), who spent years collecting infinity stones (the magical gems at the center of many of the MCU movies) to build a gauntlet that allowed him to erase half of the universe with a snap of his fingers. That happened at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. The Avengers who did not get snapped did a bunch of time travel to steal the stones from various previous movies and create a new gauntlet. Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) then snapped his fingers to bring everyone back, and the event is known as the Blip. Iron Man then used the gauntlet again to destroy Thanos, killing himself in the process.
The Mind Stone (and why Vision had to die)
Both Vision and Wanda are powered (one more literally than the other) by the Mind Stone, which gives its user complete control over the hearts and minds of other people. It was previously inside the scepter wielded by Loki (Tom Hiddleston). It's like a supercomputer, and when Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) got a hold of it, he realized it could be used as artificial intelligence to create Ultron (voiced by James Spader) as a peacekeeping tool. Ultron turned out to be evil, so the body created for him was then given to Tony's trusty AI pal Jarvis (voiced by Bettany), and that became Vision. Vision literally has the stone in his forehead.
In order to complete his plan of wiping out half of the universe, Thanos needed the Mind Stone. Wanda tried to kill Vision herself (at great personal emotional cost) to keep the Stone away from Thanos, but Thanos simply used the Time Stone to reverse time, revive Vision, and then steal the stone, killing Vision again. It was believed Vision couldn't exist without it, which is why Wanda was so devastated.
Who is Ultron?
Ultron is, like Vision, essentially a robot. He was created by Tony Stark as a peacekeeping program, but he very quickly went horribly wrong because after being filled in by Tony's AI pal Jarvis, he decided that humanity was not worth protecting and planned to commit genocide against all humans. He attacked Jarvis, sending him into hiding, and started building his own body and recruiting followers, including Stark-haters Pietro and Wanda.
He also manipulated a scientist into making him a perfect synthetic body, which was almost finished when the Avengers got a hold of it. Bruce and Tony then decided to put Jarvis into the body instead, which caused a huge fight among the Avengers (all of whom were pissed at Tony for building this thing at all), but Thor (Chris Hemsworth) used his hammer to speed things up, and Vision was born. Vision eventually used the Mind Stone to destroy Ultron, though it's not quite clear if he's fully gone for good.
Pietro and Wanda also switched sides to the Avengers once they realized exactly what Ultron was doing, and they helped take him down, though Pietro died in the process.
What happened in Sokovia?
Sokovia, a fictional Marvel country, gets mentioned a lot as it's where Wanda and Pietro are from, but it's also the site of a major, game-changing Avengers battle. In his quest to destroy humanity, Ultron decided he was going to use the Sokovian capital city of Novi Grad as a meteor. He planned to lift it into the air and then drop it back down, wiping out all life on earth.
The plan almost worked, but the Avengers detonated the city in the air to keep it from falling. 177 people (including Pietro) ended up dying despite everyone's best evacuation attempts.
In Captain America: Civil War, due to all the collateral damage, the UN asked the Avengers to sign the Sokovia Accords, which would forbid them from operating independently from the government.
What happened in Lagos?
Wanda clearly is feeling some serious guilt about Lagos, which took the form of a paper towel commercial about cleaning up messes you didn't mean to make.
At the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, the Avengers were trying to stop a guy from stealing a weapon in Lagos, Nigeria. When Captain America caught the criminal, he tried to blow himself up to kill both himself and Cap, so Wanda used her powers to divert the explosion into a nearby building. That explosion killed multiple people, including a few humanitarian workers from Wakanda.
Why is Fake Pietro a big deal?
In the MCU, Pietro Maximoff (also known as Quicksilver in the comics) is played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. In the X-Men movies (which are based on Marvel comics) Quicksilver/Peter Maximoff is played by Evan Peters. When Pietro appeared at Wanda's door in episode five, he was played by Evan Peters. It's not yet clear if that's just a fun Easter Egg for fans, or if this is confirmation that the X-Men movies are now part of the MCU multiverse, but the multiverse theory does hold some water.
First of all, we know WandaVision plays directly into the next Doctor Strange movie, which is called Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. There have also been rumors about characters from other Spider-Man movies joining Tom Holland's Peter Parker, and Disney now owns 20th Century Fox, which produced the X-Men movies. It's certainly in the realm of possibility!
Why is Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness important?
Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) has not made any sort of appearance on WandaVision yet, but Marvel boss Kevin Feige has confirmed that the events of the show will impact the movie. Here's the reported movie synopsis: "After the events of Avengers: Endgame, Dr. Stephen Strange continues his research on the Time Stone. But an old friend-turned-enemy puts an end to his plans and causes Strange to unleash unspeakable evil."
That former friend is most likely Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who was seen in the Doctor Strange end credits declaring that there are too many sorcerers in the world.
WandaVision will set up the movie, and Doctor Strange 2 will also tie in with the series Loki and with Spider-Man: No Way Home.
What is HYDRA?
HYDRA is an evil organization that keeps trying to take over the world, in various forms. They were closely associated with Nazis during World War II, and their whole thing is that when you cut off one head, two more will take its place. So every time you think they're gone, they're not really gone at all. HYDRA is all over the MCU, most notably in the Captain America movies, and even took over S.H.I.E.L.D., nearly destroying it in the process.
When Wanda and Pietro were children, their home was bombed and their parents were killed. All they knew was that Stark Industries made the bombs, so an enemy of their enemy was their friend and they joined HYDRA in an effort to "change the world." They were experimented on, and it was HYDRA who introduced Wanda to the Mind Stone. She touched it, and it appeared to amplify her witchy powers.
What are S.H.I.E.L.D. and S.W.O.R.D.?
You are probably a lot more familiar with S.H.I.E.L.D. than S.W.O.R.D., but they're both extra-governmental agencies designed to maintain security around the world. S.H.I.E.L.D. stands for Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Divison and it was founded by Howard Stark (Tony's father) and Peggy Carter (Captain America's girlfriend). Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) was director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and he put the Avengers together as a team.
S.W.O.R.D. stands for Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division. It was founded by Monica's mother, Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch) sometime after 1995 (and the events of Captain Marvel), and after she died in 2020, Tyler Hayward took over as Acting Director. Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) mentioned it in Thor, and it was focusing on space missions and aliens, but has now shifted focus to robots and AI—including rebuilding Vision.
What happened to Monica in the hex?
When Monica forced her way back into the hex, something happened to her that made her eyes glow blue. That blue is similar to what happens to people who are being controlled by the Mind Stone, but Monica is not being mind-controlled. She's got some sort of super power, but we'll have to wait to find out exactly what kind of power it is.
In the comics, Monica Rambeau can control various types of energy and goes by several different superhero names, including Spectrum, Photon and even Captain Marvel. She gets mentored by Captain America and the Wasp, and helps Doctor Strange and Scarlet Witch fight Dracula. She's immortal, and at one point becomes the leader of the Avengers.
Who is Jimmy Woo (and why doesn't he have his own show yet)?
Jimmy Woo made his MCU debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp as the FBI agent keeping tabs on Scott (Paul Rudd) during his two-year house arrest after Civil War. While he was determined to catch Scott breaking his house arrest, he was also very impressed by Scott's skills with close-up magic. That's why it's funny when he does a card trick with his business card when he meets Monica in episode four.
In the comics, Jimmy made his debut in the 1950s and eventually became a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, eventually fighting Godzilla at one point.
Why is the antidepressant called Nexus?
One commercial advertised Nexus, an antidepressant designed to "anchor you back to your reality, or the reality of your choice." According to the Marvel wiki, the Nexus is "a cross-dimensional gateway which provides a pathway to any and all possible realities." It's the place where all realities intersect, and there's even a thing called a Nexus being, which is what Wanda has often been called in the comics. A Nexus being has the ability to "affect probability and thus the future, thereby altering the flow of the Universal Time Stream."
However, in Age of Ultron, we learn that the Nexus is also an internet hub. Here's how Bruce describes it: "It's the world internet hub in Oslo. Every byte of data flows through there—fastest access on Earth."
We don't yet know which one the commercial is referring to, but the references to reality make us think it's the former.
Who is Agatha Harkness?
Agatha Harkness is the secret witchy identity of Agnes, Wanda and Vision's neighbor. She has not been mentioned in the MCU before, and witches, especially of the Salem Trial variety, have not been a big part of this franchise yet.
Witches, however, are all over the comics. Agatha has been both an enemy and a mentor for Wanda, she's extremely powerful and she's extremely super-duper old. Like, she was around 500 years before Atlantis sank to the bottom of the ocean. She's worked for the Fantastic Four as a nanny, and even fought Ultron at one point.
Why Wanda just became the Scarlet Witch
Jimmy Woo confirmed on WandaVision that Wanda did not yet have a fun superhero nickname. Viewers know her as the Scarlet Witch, but she's never been called that on screen until the end of episode eight after Agatha got the full picture of her powers.
She has usually been portrayed as a mutant, like the X-Men, and started out as a supervillain alongside her brother, Quicksilver, but then she switched sides to join the Avengers. At one point she did have magical twin sons, and those sons turned out to be part demon, courtesy of the demon supervillain Mephisto. In later comics, she's no longer a mutant but was born a witch.
In the MCU, the Scarlet Witch appears to be more of a concept than a specific person, at least based on how Agatha gave Wanda this title. Wanda had visions of a witch when she first touched the Mind Stone during the HYDRA experiments, and Agatha gave her the name after learning how Wanda created her sitcom world and made Vision completely out of magic.
What is Chaos Magic?
When Agatha calls Wanda the Scarlet Witch at the end of episode eight, she also says that Wanda is "supposed to be a myth, a being capable of spontaneous creation." She says that this is "Chaos Magic," which makes Wanda the Scarlet Witch.
Chaos Magic is a magic so powerful that it was thought to be a myth. It can, according to the Marvel wiki, "manipulate, warp and reconstruct the very fabric of existence and reality to the user's very whims, and bring about total destruction to the cosmos." Wanda has this power in the comics, and Agatha helps her harness it beyond "simple hexes." Here, there's no telling what Wanda might do with it once she has full control.
What's with the new, rebuilt Vision?
Two weeks after the Blip, Wanda went to S.W.O.R.D. headquarters to try to get Vision's body for a funeral, but she discovered it was dismantled and being worked on by S.W.O.R.D. scientists. Hayward tried to say she stole it, but that was just to hide the fact that he and the team were working on reviving Vision as the ultimate sentient weapon. The new Vision, entirely white instead of red and grey, came alive at the end of episode eight.
When Vision was disassembled and reassembled in the comics, he was missing all of Vision's emotions and personality, so it wouldn't be surprising if this guy is too, hence his total lack of color. If that's the case, Wanda is not going to be thrilled to see him…
The finale of WandaVision arrives Friday, March 5 on Disney+.