“Are you not a little worried the audience might just see through this little charade?” asks Paul Bettany’s Vision in new Disney+ series WandaVision
Wanda Maximoff, more commonly known as Scarlet Witch, responds: “Well, that’s the point – in a real magic act, everything is fake.”
These lines of dialogue provide the biggest clues as to what is actually happening in the series. The opening two episodes, depicted in the style of a 1950s sitcom, shows the characters happily married in a black-and-white dystopia.
*Spoilers for episode one and two below – you have been warned*
But all is not as it seems and, every so often, Wanda is shown becoming unsettled as the reality of real-life events bleeds into her hunky dory lifestyle. “Wanda, who is doing this to you?” a voice repeatedly asks her over a malfunctioning radio – and the answer seems to be: herself.
By the end of the second outing, Wanda actively opts to remain ignorant of any other form of existence. After seeing a mysterious beekeeper emerge from a pothole in the road (yes, really), she says, “No”, and rewinds the moment.
So, what is this world and why has she created it?
The biggest clue arrives in the first episode courtesy of a wine bottle emblazoned with the words “Maison du Mépris”, which translates as “House of Misery”.
This is clearly a nod to Marvel’s comic book inspiration for this particular TV show – House of M.
This storyline sees Scarlet Witch alter the fabric of reality after suffering a mental breakdown due to losing the children she has with Vision. The children, who were conceived using magic, are taken from Wanda by a villain named Mephisto; it turns out their souls were fragments of his.
Wanda then has her memory wiped so she has no idea she even had children – that is until years later, when she finds out and goes on a rampage, creating her own world in order to bring them back.
Sure enough, in the closing moments of episode two, Wanda is revealed to be pregnant.
The idea that WandaVision is borrowing from House of M is corroborated by a few other instances in the show’s opening episodes. At one stage, Wanda is asked: “Why don’t you have children yet?” In the second episode, Wanda and Vision are shown performing a magic show at a local event “for the children”.
Throughout the first episode, both Wanda and Vision see a special date marked down on their calendar – 23 August – but neither have any clue what the date marks. Could it be that this is the birth date of their lost children? Or the date from when she discovered what happened to them?
WandaVision continues Fridays on Disney+