Warning — This article contains spoilers for WandaVision.
WandaVision has finally premiered on Disney+, bringing the MCU back with two spectacular new episodes to kick off the first Marvel Studios-produced television series.
So far, the Disney+ show has followed Scarlet Witch and Vision in their new home of Westview, which has some dark undertones that are constantly being repressed by Wanda. It is clear that Wanda is hiding something from us, and Vision, about the state of their quaint, idealistic little town. The question is: what is it?
One of the interesting, and surprising, additions to WandaVision are its timely commercials, mimicking the style of classic television adverts from their era to show off a fancy new product. On first glance, these advertisements are innocent enough: presenting a quirky product to the audience in a fun manner. As they progress though, they show their true colors with in-universe signifiers that indicate something isn't quite right in Westview.
Looks can be deceiving in WandaVision, so what exactly are these commercials trying to say?
THE TOAST MATE 2000
The first commercial that we encounter comes in the first episode, and it's sure to make viewers hungry.
The infomercial starts with a toaster burning a few slices of bread, causing a presenter to ask an outdated question to the female viewer: “Is your husband tired of you burning his toast?” The male presenter walks over to a female co-host, as they introduce the Toast Mate 2000 to boast its revolutionary features. The female presenter pushes down on the lever of the contraption, causing a familiar sound effect of Iron Man’s repulsors to be heard. A light starts blinking.
After showing a selection of food items that work well with the Toast Mate 2000, the light turns to a red hue, despite the lack of color elsewhere in frame. This light is accompanied by a beeping noise, getting incessantly faster. The beeping continues for much too long afterwards, to the female presenter’s dismay. Something is amiss. The commercial then reveals that the product is made by Stark Industries. A tag line rounds out the advert: “Forget the past, this is your future!”
Iron Man references in a Scarlet Witch-focused series? Even though Tony’s long gone, his influence still rules over the MCU, and clearly it still rules over part of Wanda’s mind. The answer to why this Stark Industries contraption is relevant lies in Wanda’s first MCU appearance: Avengers: Age of Ultron.
In the film, Pietro and Wanda Maximoff recount the death of their parents, caused by a Stark Industries bomb landing in their home. A second shell hit but didn’t detonate, forcing the twins to endure a long nerve-wracking wait. Wanda showed much disdain towards this memory, and subsequently to Tony, telling Ultron that they “waited for two days for Tony Stark to kill us.”
The beeping of the toaster alludes to the ominous beeping of the Stark Industries bomb, a remnant of Wanda’s memory that has invaded her picturesque reality to haunt and torment her. This is reinforced by a few other aspects of the Toast Mate 2000 commercial, such as the awkward and uncomfortable timing of the beeping and how the product things to toast - much like what the bomb did to Wanda’s parents. Ouch.
In fact, the entire commercial can be seen as a parallel to the event. The first toaster burns the toast, representing the first bomb that killed Wanda’s parents. The second toaster doesn’t burn the toast, but takes an unusually long time, reflecting how Pietro and Wanda survived, but had to endure an arduous wait. Wanda has repackaged this painful memory into a more pleasant format, but the wound still remains.
The second episode of WandaVision also features a commercial, this time being for a more luxury item for potential buyers.
A man, all suited and booted in a tuxedo, is seen admiring himself in the mirror, before his wife comes to join him. The narrator says that a man is not complete without his “special lady” and his Strucker-branded watch. As the couple leaves, a close-up shot of the product is shown, revealing the watch face. In addition to Strucker branding, the watch features a logo for an infamous Marvel organization: HYDRA. The narrator ends the commercial by saying that the Strucker will “make time for you.”
This advert also draws from a significant figure in Wanda’s life from Age of Ultron, that being Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. The HYDRA scientist was responsible for experimenting on the Maximoff twins, confining them in his research base and subjecting them to all sorts of tests to bring about the "age of miracles."
Wanda and Pietro suffered heavily at the hands of HYDRA, having their powers brought out through the use of the Mind Stone. Despite them eventually being able to use their abilities positively, for a time Wanda was puppeteered by HYDRA to carry out their evil bidding against the Avengers.
The slogan of the Strucker being "it'll make time for you" could hint at the Baron's treatment of the twins. The phrasing suggests that Wanda was severely manipulated when imprisoned, possibly being promised something in return from Strucker, such as a parental figure during a dark time in her life. While the HYDRA scientist didn't seem too warm and fuzzy in Age of Ultron, perhaps there was an alternate side to the villain not shown off in the film.
Though his time on-screen was quite literally short-lived, Strucker had a seminal influence on Wanda's development. Had it not been for Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Wanda would have been sent down a dangerous path of villainy. Though she averted this fate, this ad's inclusion demonstrates that the effects of Strucker still seem to linger in Wanda's mind.
So far, two characters who have caused a negative impact on Wanda’s life, directly or not, have received commercials centered around them. Therefore, it can be expected that the commercials are being used to build up an array of characters that have wronged Wanda in some way, contributing to her trauma that seems to be underlying the prim and proper world of Westview.
Marvel President Kevin Feige previously stated that no "single person [in the MCU] has gone through more pain and trauma than Wanda Maximoff." The commercials are doing a very good job at building that case.
Despite only being a supporting character up to this point, Wanda Maximoff has been through a lot over the course of the MCU. From a traumatic superhero origin, to the loss of her brother, to the multiple deaths of Vision, Wanda certainly has baggage.
There is a good possibility that Westview is being used as a coping mechanism by Wanda to deal with the trauma that she has endured throughout her life. A distressed voice calls out to Wanda throughout the first two episodes, asking her "Who's doing this to you?"
The answer, may, in fact, be herself.
Many have suspected an exterior force at play, such as Agatha Harkness or Nightmare trapping Wanda in this illusion. With what has been presented, Wanda could be the true villain of her own show, unintentionally confining her and the residents of Westview in a false reality. It seems that these commercials are heading towards a breaking point, with the dark undertones becoming more and more apparent as the series goes on.
With the commercials representing Wanda’s trauma seeping its way into her picture-perfect world, it can be expected that commercials in future episodes will continue to build this second narrative. So who else could these ads reference?
AN ENDLESS CYCLE
There are many characters and events from Wanda's life that future WandaVision commercials could draw from. It appears that WandaVision is going through these characters in chronological order in which they affected Wanda.
Ultron was the next villain to trick the Scarlet Witch, turning her against the Avengers through their shared hatred of Tony Stark. The walking tin would then go on to decimate Sokovia, Wanda's home. Ultron's effect on Wanda is therefore two-fold, which would be more than plenty reason for him to show up as a twisted Apple II computer, Atari 2600, or a Honda Civic. Any kind of corrupted technology, really.
Ulysses Klaue had a brief encounter with Wanda, but may not have affected her life enough to warrant his own commercial. Nevertheless, there is always the chance that the cuttlefish-fearing South African could rear his head. Klaue has a radar dish-like arm in the comics, so perhaps he could be referenced in an advert for satellite television.
In Captain America: Civil War, Wanda caused a devastating accident in Lagos when trying to mitigate the destruction of an exploding Crossbones. This was the inciting incident that led to the signing of the Sokovia Accords, preventing free rein for superpowered individuals. A potential commercial could draw upon the explosive supervillain himself, possibly using his crossbones in a pirate-themed advert.
Other characters from Civil War could also be commercialized, such as the heroes on the side of Team Stark. Black Widow, Spider-Man, War Machine and Black Panther all got in Captain America's way during their airport battle, so Wanda could still harbor some negative feelings towards her fellow Avengers.
Baron Helmut Zemo was eventually revealed to be the mastermind behind this event, so her animosity could be directed towards him. The fellow Sokovian is back to his old tricks in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, but perhaps he could be referenced as a contributor in the Scarlet Witch-centric show.
The Black Order's Corvus Glaive and Promixa Midnight thwarted Wanda and Vision's romantic escape to Edinburgh, severely injuring the cybernetic hero. Wanda was not happy at all with Proxima, crushing her with the gargantuan Threshers in Avengers: Infinity War. Even though she got a taste of revenge through this act, the Children of Thanos certainly rattled Wanda up.
Finally, the Mad Titan himself has a lot to answer for. Thanos took away the one person that Wanda loved, shortly after Wanda was forced to kill Vision herself. Who knows what commercial could represent Thanos in the world of WandaVision, but his impact will be a lot for Wanda to grapple with after the Mad Titan "took everything from [her]."
Wanda's traumatic MCU past runs deep through WandaVision, so it will be interesting to see how subsequent commercials slowly build towards this as the series progresses. Though jolly and campy on its exterior, there is a dark undercurrent that fuels WandaVision's narrative, so it's only a matter of time before Wanda snaps.