WandaVision has arrived on Disney+, the first Marvel Studios television series for the streaming service. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and starring the Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany), it’s a reality-bending story that homages classic American sitcoms from the 50s and 70s while framed by a deeper mystery.
As with many comic book movies, WandaVision also lists a series of comic book creators that they wish to specially thank. And while there are some expected names in this list, the presence of others could give us some clues as to what we can expect from the remaining 7 episodes of the first season.
POTENTIAL SPOILER WARNING: If you want to enjoy WandaVision fresh, don’t read on!
The Comic Creators
In the credits, the names under the heading “With Special Thanks To” are:
- Brian Michael Bendis
- John Buscema
- John Cassaday
- Olivier Coipel
- Steven Englehart
- David Finch
- Richard Howell
- Tom King
- Jack Kirby
- Stan Lee
- Rick Leonardi
- Bill Mantlo
- Roy Thomas
- Gabriel Hernandez Walta
- Joss Whedon
As mentioned, some of these names are expected. Of course Stan Lee and Jack Kirby are in the list, as the co-creators of the Scarlet Witch, Wanda Maximoff. Roy Thomas and John Buscema co-created Vision with Lee, so they get name-dropped too. Thomas would go on to introduce the romantic relationship between the two in the pages of Avengers, back in the 70s.
But what do the other names imply for the plot and setting of WandaVision?
The Comic Storylines
In 1975, Scarlet Witch married Vision in Giant-Size Avengers #4 written by Steve Englehart (though the lack of co-creator Don Heck’s name in the WandaVision credits suggests there will be no wedding scene in the series).
The Vision and the Scarlet Witch
Instead, the presence of Bill Mantlo and Rick Leonardi imply a different source material. Mantlo and Leonardi were the co-creators behind The Vision and the Scarlet Witch, a 4-issue miniseries in the early 80s which depicts their wedded domestic bliss in a New Jersey suburb (with the occasional supervillain, of course!). This is, of course, ostensibly the setting of WandaVision, at least as far as the first two episodes imply.
Another pair of names are the aforementioned Englehart and Richard Howell. These two creators are responsible for Volume 2 of The Vision and the Scarlet Witch, which ran for 12 issues in the mid-80s.
(In episode 2 of WandaVision, their stage names for the magic act that they perform are Glamor and Illusion. Volume 2 of this limited series introduced two new characters called Glamor and Illusion!)
But what Volume 2 is most notable for is the way it ends. The birth of Scarlet Witch and Vision’s twin children!
(Episode 2 of WandaVision also ends with a surprise pregnancy, finally bringing Englehart and Howell’s classic storyline to the screen.)
Avengers Disassembled and House of M
Wanda’s motherhood unfortunately doesn’t last long, and the trauma of losing her children leads to a deterioration of her mental health.
Her powers, on the other hand are growing significantly and this leads to the now-classic but still controversial Avengers Disassembled storyline in 2004 by Brian Michael Bendis and David Finch.
In the comics, the evil force manipulates the powerful but mentally unwell Scarlet Witch. She becomes an instrument of chaos that bends reality and destroys the Avengers from within.
The presence of Olivier Coipel‘s name in the credits hint that Avengers Disassembled is not the only Bendis storyline being adapted. Bendis and Coipel worked on 2005’s House of M, continuing the arc of Wanda’s mental breakdown and reality warping abilities.
In House of M, Wanda’s powers create an entirely new reality. The rules of this new Earth are based on the deepest wishes of a select number of characters. In particular, Magneto’s wishes led to mutants becoming the dominant species.
We already see hints of both storylines in WandaVision. As more inexplicable events begin happening in the suburb, they all seem to revolve around Wanda. Avengers: Endgame‘s clearly grieving Scarlet Witch must have manifested this strange sitcom reality as a coping mechanism. For one thing, Vision should be dead! Thanos destroyed him (not snapped!) in Avengers: Infinity War.
Even if the crux of WandaVision’s plot appears to (and should!) revolve around the Scarlet Witch, the presence of Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta in the credits imply a heavy influence from their 12-issue limited series The Vision.
The critically acclaimed Eisner award-winning series chronicles the livelihoods of Vision’s synthezoid family in the suburbs as they navigate the perils of a neighbourhood that does not trust or accept them.
In WandaVision, Vision is trying to build a career and be a good neighbour, but gets a frosty initial reaction from the other men when he tries to join the neighbourhood watch.
It’s hard to say just how much the show will borrow from the comics. What seems clear for now is the sense of foreboding that lurked ominously throughout The Vision will definitely peek through in WandaVision.
Perhaps Joss Whedon‘s name in the credits should be a given. After all, Scarlet Witch and Vision made their MCU debut in his movie Avengers: Age of Ultron.
However, the presence of John Cassaday‘s name implies that both Whedon and Cassaday are more likely being recognised as the co-creators of S.W.O.R.D. in the pages of Astonishing X-Men.
In the comics, S.W.O.R.D. is an offshoot of S.H.I.E.L.D., dedicated to protecting Earth from otherworldly threats. The acronym stands for Sentient World Observation and Response Department. The WandaVision version of S.W.O.R.D., only subtly hinted at by the presence of the logo on three different occassions, also tweaked the name to Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Department. That small change makes the organisation a lot more insidious.
(Of note: WandaVision‘s Geraldine (introduced in episode 2) is actually Captain Marvel‘s Monica Rambeau, now grown up (and played by Teyonah Parris). Rambeau is affliated to S.W.O.R.D. in the MCU.)
What other comic elements may appear?
We’ve accounted for all the names listed in the credits, but the truth is their presence could be responsible for many more comic elements we can expect to show up in WandaVision.
When you have names like Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, arguably the most prolific comic book creators ever, everything’s fair game. For example:
- Agnes (played to perfection by Kathryn Hahn) could very well be Agatha Harkness, Wanda Maximoff’s mentor in magic. Harkness was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.
- The strange beekeeper that emerged from the sewer at the end of episode 2 could be a reference to the criminal organisation, Advanced Idea Mechanics or AIM. AIM is also a creation of Lee and Kirby.
For a more in-depth recap of WandaVision, as well as an analysis into the classic sitcoms that inspired the show, I highly recommend Decider’s Brett White. He writes an episode recap and his shared love for sitcoms and comics make him THE person to review WandaVision.