Warning — This article contains spoilers for WandaVision.
WandaVision has taken a unique approach to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, surprising fans by fully embracing a sitcom format for its first two episodes.
To keep in line with its television roots, both of the show's premiere episodes featured Marvel-themed television commercials that mimicked the eras in which they were set. However, while seeming lighthearted and fun at first, these adverts signalled something much darker to come.
Both commercials seemed to draw from characters who have wronged Wanda Maximoff in some form, namely Tony Stark and Baron Von Strucker. This seemed to signify that the Scarlet Witch’s inner demons were seeping into her idealistic reality of Westview, tarnishing what is likely to be an escape from the trauma that Wanda has experienced throughout the MCU.
The latest commercial from “Episode 3” appears to break that trend, though certain clues may hint at what WandaVision is building towards.
SOAKED IN EVIL
“Episode 3's” commercial has some deep-seated darkness underneath its soothing soap and suds.
The advert begins with a mother having to contend with the daily struggles of 1970s life, including rambunctious children, misbehaving pets and malfunctioning kitchen appliances.
The distressed mother is asked by a narrator "Do you need a break?" to which she nods in desperation, saying "You read my mind!" Instantly she is relieved, being transported to a pristine Greek bathhouse. A toga-bearing individual fans a palm leaf. Bubbles fill the tub. This is bliss.
As the woman relaxes, the narrator continues his marketing spiel:
"Come with me. Escape to a world all your own. Where your problems float away. When you wanna get away, but you don't wanna go anywhere."
Finally, the narrator introduces HYDRA Soak, a type of blue soap that is said to "Release the Goddess Within."
But why is HYDRA being used as a source of comfort? The commercial could relate to Wanda’s life in a few ways.
The commercial could be reflective of HYDRA’s experiments using Loki’s Scepter, with the mother’s stress being a metaphor for the very real stress that Wanda endured during her time under the criminal organization.
It is unclear what HYDRA exactly did to the twins, but the post-credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier provided a clue as to what Wanda and Pietro had to deal with. All the other volunteers died during the trials, indicating that the Mind Stone inflicted a heavy toll on the body.
The Maximoffs were lucky to survive, but were not given much else for their commitment to the program. The two are seen confined to small cells to be observed from, having little more than a bed to call their own. With Pietro desperate enough to slam himself against concrete walls to escape, it was quite clear that the twins were treated, well, pretty badly.
If there's anything good that came from the Maximoff twins being cooped up in decrepit facilities, though, it might be that these experiments allowed Wanda to “Release the Goddess Within,” and tap into her reality-bending power set.
Though the Scarlet Witch has not been referred to as a "goddess" in other media, her abilities are certainly on par with that of an all-powerful deity. Despite having to suffer under HYDRA, Wanda may have been able to find a sense of calm purpose by gaining her powers.
The particular use of the word “release” could also be significant. While it may just refer to HYDRA awakening Wanda’s latent powers, it could also hint at her unshackling something buried within.
Scarlet Witch has lived up to her name so far in WandaVision, but perhaps there is even more to her powers. Wanda is infamous for allowing her powers to go haywire in servitude of her own desires in the comics, so she may be let loose against all those who dared to cross her.
It is unknown the extent of the Scarlet Witch’s powers, but perhaps they could span past realities and universes. Wanda’s ultimate revenge could be to punish her oppressors across all corners of the multiverse, a frightening act of vengeance.
Another possibility is that the stress that the mother is experiencing in this fabricated TV ad is an allegory for the history of political instability and uprisings of Sokovia. Following the death of their parents, the Maximoff twins organized protests against Stark and the Avengers, gaining the attention of the United States and HYDRA.
Effectively turning Sokovia into a a warzone, the country was in a state of complete disarray. American forces occupied many sections of the country and riots were frequent. The Maximoffs took part in these scuffles, not knowing that HYDRA was the organization behind them. HYDRA scientist Doctor List used this as an opportunity to recruit many of the protestors, including Wanda and Pietro, for his experiments with Loki’s Scepter.
Therefore, the WandaVision commercial seen in "Episode 3" could reflect Wanda’s anxieties towards the tensions in Sokovia, for which HYDRA provided a sense of salvation. With her country falling apart around her, the evil organization may have looked like the only way to save Wanda’s nation and achieve any semblance of stability in her life.
Promising Wanda a way to unleash her inner ‘goddess’ to combat the forces of the US and the Avengers, it was ultimately all an elaborate scheme to unlock the full potential of the Mind Stone. Doctor List’s deception of Wanda may have just been the reason for the HYDRA scientist to end up on her traumatic hit...list.
KEPT TO THE SHADOWS
Alternatively, HYDRA’s involvement may not actually be the primary focus of the commercial at all, instead being presented as the instigator in the wider story of Wanda Maximoff.
This potential interpretation stems from the narrator’s statement that HYDRA Soak allows the user to “escape to a world all your own.” This could be reflective of what is really going on with the town of Westview, that it is a reality crafted by the Scarlet Witch to fit her own needs.
The voiceover also says that this ‘world’ that the shady shampoo creates is “where your problems float away,” indicating that Westview is being used to escape Wanda’s real world issues. With this in mind, the mother’s stress in the ad could mirror Wanda’s real-life trauma, only being able to find solace by escaping into the comfort of a sitcom-filled Westview.
The HYDRA Soak allows one to alleviate their worries. Therefore, HYDRA can be seen simply as a catalyst for Wanda here, providing the gateway for her to shirk her troubles and make a picture-perfect lifestyle in her own image. So really, Wanda should be thanking HYDRA, right?
This may support the theory that Wanda is the true villain of her own series, trapping Westview’s citizens to play house.
In a surprise to many, this commercial includes an unexpected connection to an MCU property that isn't even a Marvel Studios project.
HYDRA soap could be a sly reference to Season 4, Episode 17 of Agents of SHIELD, titled "Identity and Change", where Agent Phil Coulson angrily rants about blue mind-controlling soap.
In the episode, Coulson voices an interesting theory he has about certain cleaning products when speaking with Daisy Johnson:
"I would've figured it out a long time ago if it wasn't for the mind control soap...The blue soap everyone uses? HYDRA loads it up with chemicals. It seeps into our bloodstream. Implants false memories into our brains. They want us to believe this is a magical place. But don't worry, I'm clear. I make my own soap now."
In a later episode of the series, "No Regrets," an advertisement for this blue soap itself, L'Oreal Hydra Genius Liquid Care, was aired. While different to WandaVision's HYDRA Soak, the connection is clear as bath water.
Marvel President Kevin Feige seems to have hoped to distance Marvel Studios from its previous television efforts, such as Runaways, Cloak and Dagger, Marvel's Netflix efforts, and, of course, Agents of SHIELD. Only Agent Carter is still in a state of relative flux, due to James D'Arcy reprising his role as Edwin Jarvis in Avengers: Endgame.
HYDRA's blue soap doesn't seem to have an origin in the comics, so why would Feige and his team choose to reference it?
Perhaps this blue mind controlling soap exists in the current MCU timeline, irrespective of Agents of SHIELD. The product could have been used by HYDRA when covertly working within SHIELD to control the civilian population, a precursor to the Helicarrier-focused "Project Insight" in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The reference would thus serve as a wink and a nod to where Marvel Studios got their inspiration.
However, all the products in these WandaVision TV ads thus far have seemed to be fake, so perhaps HYDRA Soak is a metaphor for a mind-controlling agent from Wanda's past.
Scarlet Witch's loyalty to HYDRA, despite their many experiments on her, could be attributed to her being forcefully under their control. HYDRA is capable of this, as shown by the Winter Soldier program, so perhaps Wanda and Pietro were exposed to a similar treatment.
Another possibility is that Marvel is teasing something multiversal. The choice to include an Agents of SHIELD reference at all is strange, so perhaps Kevin Feige and his team have switched gears and decided to include the Coulson-led television series in the pantheon of the multiverse.
WandaVision has been rumored to open up the MCU to alternate realities, so perhaps Wanda's powers are introducing aspects of other worlds into the mainline Marvel Cinematic Universe.
If the first two episodes are anything to go by, WandaVision seemed to be building a lineup of sorts of individuals that contributed to the Scarlet Witch’s trauma. The commercial for “Episode 3” muddies these waters, but having faith in the ultra cleansing powers of HYDRA Soak could clear things up. Accounting for HYDRA Soak, here’s what WandaVision’s commercials could really be leading to.
The commercials may still be maintaining their current course, lining up Wanda’s most wanted. Though “Episode 3's” has made this a bit unclear, this week’s villain of the week could be HYDRA’s Doctor List or HYDRA as an organization. With the mention of Ultron, the metallic menace could be the next victim of commercialization.
Alternatively, WandaVision may be venturing into uncharted waters, with the strange commercials actually acting as allegories for Wanda’s life as opposed to hit pieces on her greatest adversaries. The Toast Mate 2000 had a sinister analogy for the death of Ma and Pa Maximoff, so HYDRA Soak’s metaphors may be more than intentional.