The weirdest of all Disney Plus shows announced so far has to be WandaVision. Before the end of 2020, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany will reprise their roles as the Scarlet Witch and the Vision, one of the biggest pairs of star-crossed lovers in superhero history. The one thing we know about the series is, per Olsen at the 2019 Marvel Studios panel at SDCC, is that “it’s gonna get weird.” The first trailer for WandaVision makes good on the claim.
Tying into the upcoming film Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (which will have Scarlet Witch in a co-starring role), the series will take place after Endgame with the Vision — who was blown up by Thanos at the end of Infinity War — mysteriously alive. An adult Monica Rambeau (Mad Men alum Tenoyah Parris) will also figure into the mix somehow.
That’s basically the extent of what we know about WandaVision. But if the comics history of Vision and Scarlet Witch’s relationship is any indication, this won’t be all smiles. Let’s take a look at the rocky road the two Avengers have faced before in their relationship — because we’re likely to see it reflected in WandaVision itself.
Robots in love
Much like in the MCU, Scarlet Witch was originally introduced as a villain in the pages of The X-Men by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby in 1964. Part of the first iteration of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants, she and her brother Quicksilver had been rescued by Magneto from an anti-mutant mob, and joined him to repay that debt. In 1965, they switched allegiances and joined The Avengers, where they’ve been affiliated ever since.
Lee, Roy Thomas and John Buscema created the Vision in the pages of The Avengers in 1968. In the MCU, the Vision’s origin is indirectly tied to Ultron, but in the comics their connection is much closer: he’s Ultron’s “son.” Or, at least, the evil robot kidnapped a scientist and forced him to create the Vision by combining the body and “brain patterns” of two dead superheroes who are extremely obscure now. The Vision was a “synthezoid” made from the original android Human Torch and the mind of Wonder Man, created to destroy the Avengers.
But the Vision rebelled against his “father” and was adopted onto the team. By 1970, he and the Scarlet Witch had become an item. In a 2010 interview with the magazine Back Issue!, Thomas said, “I felt that a romance of some sort would help the character development in The Avengers, and the Vision was a prime candidate because he appeared only in that mag [...] as did Wanda, for that matter. So they became a pair, for just such practical considerations. It would also, I felt, add to the development I was doing on the Vision’s attempting to become ‘human.’”
Perhaps because of their similar villainous pasts, the witch and the android were drawn to each other, and they married in 1975’s Giant-Size Avengers #4. Later, in the second of two miniseries called Vision and the Scarlet Witch, the Scarlet Witch’s powers (which — and this is the shortest possible way to say this — use magic to shift probabilities to her desired outcome and change reality to reflect that) allowed them to have two twins, Thomas and William.
But there’s no ‘happily ever after’ in comics
A 1980s Avengers storyline saw the Vision shut down and become a hologram. His body was eventually restored but, mentally unbalanced by his trauma, Vision attempted to overtake all computer systems worldwide. After dealing with all of that, Wanda and the Vision did enjoy a short period of domestic bliss, until they joined the West Coast Avengers.
When John Byrne took over as writer/artist of West Coast Avengers, his first storyline, “VisionQuest,” saw Vision kidnapped and disassembled by a coalition of government agencies to prevent him going rogue again. He was rescued but was resurrected as an emotionless, literally colorless husk of his former self.
In an even more crushing blow, a crossover between West Coast Avengers and Fantastic Four (than also written/drawn by Byrne) revealed that Vision and Wanda’s twins were — brace yourself — actually missing soul shards of the demon Mephisto. The boys were erased from existence.
(Though they were later revealed to have been reincarnated and joined the Young Avengers as the super-fast Speed and fan-favorite warlock Wiccan; comics, everybody!)
The loss of her children drove Wanda to a full mental breakdown. While she recovered, her and Vision’s marriage broke down irrevocably.
House of M
In 2004’s Avengers: Disassembled event, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist David Finch had Wanda once again go mad with grief after overhearing a drunk Wasp mocking her pain. In her vulnerability, Wanda wound up mind-controlled by Doctor Doom and nearly killed the rest of the Avengers — with Vision and some others actually dying — before being stopped.
Charles Xavier and Magneto took Wanda to the then-ruined Genosha to try and repair her mind, but the damage proved too severe, and they turned to a coalition of the Avengers, X-Men and other superheroes to debate her fate. Enraged that Wanda’s life was to be decided by vote, Quicksilver convinced Wanda to use her mental link to Xavier to reshape the world. And Wanda did just that.
Thus began the 2005 miniseries House of M from Bendis and artist Olivier Coipel. Ruled by the Royal House of Magnus, mutants were now the dominant species in the world, with humans — derided as “sapiens” — the abused underclass.
Many were content in their new lives. Spider-Man was married to an alive Gwen Stacy; Kitty Pryde was a Chicago school teacher; and Carol Danvers was the most popular superhero around. But Wolverine, now a S.H.I.E.L.D. commander, instinctively knew something wasn’t right.
Meeting up with the “sapien” resistance led by Luke Cage, Logan met a young mutant named Layla Miller — whose ability was reminding people of their real lives — and, with her help, he slowly brought the rest of the superheroes back to normal and stormed the Magnus compound, leading to a furious Magneto killing Quicksilver. Seeing this, Wanda lost her grip again and wished the world back to normal with one of the most devastating phrases in Marvel history.
The world was restored, but Wanda had decimated mutantkind.
And then there’s the Vision
The most momentous chapter in Vision’s life came in 2016’s limited series Vision from writer Tom King and artist Gabriel Walta. Taking a job as the Avengers liaison to the White House, Vision built himself a synthezoid family — wife Virginia and twins Viv and Vin — and moved to Fairfax, VA, as an experiment in becoming more human.
But things unravelled quickly when, while Vision was away, his family was attacked by Wonder Man’s crazed supervillain brother, the Grim Reaper, who has had it out for the Vision ever since Wonder Man’s brain was used to make him. Vision’s daughter Viv was sliced in half and nearly killed. In a panic, Virginia beat the Reaper to death with a cookie sheet and buried his body in the backyard. This set off a spiral of lies and events that ended with Vin dead and Virginia — whose brain was patterned after Scarlet Witch — committing suicide.
Will any of this wind up on WandaVision?
Well, as stated above, no one knows what WandaVision will actually be about. The trailer hints at an existential tale wrapped in Wanda’s reality-bending powers. But if it pulls from these stories — the biggest, most quintessential Vision and Scarlet Witch stories — it’ll be fraught with reality warping and skewed slices of Americana. And it’ll showcase one of the most unique love stories ever told in superhero comics.
Tom Speelman is a freelance writer for Polygon, Comic Book Resources and others. He’s worked on dozens of books for Seven Seas Entertainment, including adapting Magical Girl Spec-Ops Asuka by Makoto Fukami & Seigo Tokiya. He’s on Twitter @tomtificate and loves having feelings about robots.