Back when HBO’s Watchmen wrapped in 2019, Polygon staffers jumped into a response conversation about the show’s future. That series ends on a pregnant moment, with an open question about one character that could be left as a standalone “The Lady, or the Tiger?” moment, or could be spun up into its own followup story. The question, though, wasn’t “Will there be a season 2 of Watchmen?” so much as “Do we even want a second season of Watchmen?”
The recently wrapped Marvel Cinematic Universe miniseries WandaVision raises a similar question. Its nine episodes tell a story about Wanda Maximoff, grief-stricken survivor and newly dubbed “Scarlet Witch,” taking over a town to create the fantasy domestic life she was denied when her partner, Vision, died (twice!) in Avengers: Infinity War in 2018. The final episode wraps up the arc — but leaves some notable threads dangling, and some characters unaccounted for. In part, that’s because WandaVision is, in the usual MCU fashion, setting up stories to come, particularly for the movies Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Captain Marvel 2, both of which are theoretically scheduled for 2022. But given the notable success of WandaVision in the streaming ratings and as a social-media phenomenon, there may be a call for a sequel series.
Do we want that? Could the storyline support it? We sat down to talk it out.
[Ed. note: Spoilers ahead for all of WandaVision, including the finale.]
Tasha Robinson: Okay, so before we watched the finale, we actually conceived of this as a pretty tongue-in-cheek exchange about all the fan theories that didn’t pan out, and how WandaVision could definitely just repeat itself endlessly by tapping into some of those ideas: In season 2, she turns Eastview into a sitcom fantasy because she’s being controlled by Mephisto; in season 3, she turns Northview into a sitcom fantasy because she’s being powered by the dreaming Celestial Tiamut; in season 4 it’s Southview and Nightmare, and so forth. In trying to unravel the series’ mysteries, the fans have thrown out some really creative MCU tie-ins, and it almost seems like a shame to throw those away.
But that was when we assumed that WandaVision would be a self-contained story that wrapped up its own plotline neatly, and that it’d be fun to joke about follow-ups without actually calling for them. The actual finale leaves some big open questions, though: Where did New Vision go when he yeeted off after getting Fake Vision’s memories, and what’s his current status and intention? What’s up with Wanda’s now-nonexistent kids, who appear to be psychically calling her in the final post-credit scene? What does Wanda’s new Scarlet Witch status actually imply for her future? A lot of WandaVision is adapting existing Marvel comics and storylines, so do the comics give us a clue here about whether we’re looking at a giant salvation arc for Vision or the kids that could necessitate another season of WandaVision? Or are those teasers just the usual MCU plug for upcoming movies?
Susana Polo: The problem with answering this question is that for every one of the ideas you just raised, there’s a comic book that Marvel Studios writers could potentially pull details from in order to make a brand new plotline. This is exactly the kind of speculation that led down so many rabbit holes over the course of the season — fans clamored for an X-Men tie-in, for the dream-warping villain Nightmare, for the literal ruler of actual, factual Marvel Comics Hell to show up. It turns out that for the most part, WandaVision was exactly what we expected it to be all along: a smaller-scale House of M with the aesthetics of Vision.
I can tell you what happened to New Vision in the comics, or that Wanda’s kids were reincarnated into two different baby boys who happened to have the same names and superpowers, and that they eventually grew up, and now Billy is married to the space king of the united Kree-Skrull empire and they’re extremely cute together, but there’s no certainty of any kind here.
Except, of course, that we’ll see Wanda again in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The teaser at the end of WandaVision’s finale seems to point, in a Back to the Future-ian way, toward the next part of the story being all about Wanda’s kids. And the supporting cast on Multiverse of Madness offers another potential tie, with newcomer Xochitl Gomez in the role of teen superhero America Chavez. America is a frequent teammate and friend of Billy and Tommy’s teenage selves in the pages of books like Young Avengers.
If Doctor Strange and Wanda were to go on a romp through an endangered multiverse looking for a parallel earth where Wanda’s kids still exist, and ran into American Chavez spin-kicking her way through dimensions (yes, this is one of her powers), that could bring a lot of threads together in one place.
But whatever knot of continuity emerges in the next Doctor Strange, it seems likely that a WandaVision season 2 would have to come after it. Marvel has no dearth of Disney Plus projects in the works, many of them — like Ms. Marvel and potentially Secret Invasion — tying into upcoming movies. It’s not just that they’re not lacking for TV content, but that there’s only so much room on the schedule.
Tasha: Wait, so Wanda might legitimately get her kids back by stealing alternate versions of them from a different universe? Isn’t that basically your most-hated Star Trek plotline ever?
Susana: Hahaha, Tasha, you can’t let me talk about how Harry Kim died and the crew of the Voyager just grabbed a Harry Kim from a parallel Earth and then the show never ever ever ever ever talked about it again. We’ll be here all day.
I don’t know how Wanda’s going to get her kids back, but if you really held me down and made me come up with a cute little guess about where all this was going, it’d be this: Cthulhu. Agatha name-dropping the Darkhold in the final episode points toward an aspect of Wanda’s magic so flippin’ weird, I dismissed it from holding any relevance last week. Legitimately, our boss Matt Patches made me put it back in last week’s breakout piece after I cut it.
The Darkhold is the spellbook of an ancient Marvel comics god of chaos with the extremely original name of Chthon, and in the comics, Wanda’s chaos magic all flows from him. Add in how close “In the Multiverse of Madness” is to Lovecraft’s “At the Mountains of Madness,” and the fact that Doctor Strange’s baddies are all either literal demons from hell or monstrosities from beyond the edges of reality, and I’d say that the odds of tentacles in Multiverse of Madness are good.
How that connects to Wanda’s babies is anyone’s guess. And as our comics expert, I have to ask back: Is all this working for you? The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s big innovation was treating each movie like it was part of a single continuity, “just like comic books.” But if a modern comic series promised me an intimate story about grief magnified by cosmic power, I wouldn’t expect tee-ups and dangling threads at the end. There’s a time and place for that sort of thing, and it’s in big, punchy “joy of saving the universe by believing in heroism” comics, not character meditations.
This is something I’m trying to sort out myself, I guess. Did WandaVision’s ending leave you tantalized or just unsatisfied?
Tasha: Can I say “neither”? Like Polygon’s Joshua Rivera, I spent most of WandaVision not really feeling the emotions we’re supposed to be feeling, but for me, the final two episodes finally brought across what Vision meant to her, and why she’d go as far as she did to re-create him, and place him in the comforting fantasy world of her childhood. The finale has a lot of problems — one of the big ones being that it’s yet another superhero-movie final act that just disintegrates into a CGI throwdown, with people hucking VFX at each other — but I bought it emotionally, in terms of Wanda giving up on the fantasy, at least for the moment.
I don’t know that she needed Agatha Harkness’ purple glowing nonsense to do any of that, though, and I’m not sure what Agatha really contributed to the story, beyond some silly mythos (“You are the Scarlet Witch!”), some silly throwdowns, and a bangin’ earworm of a song. But I don’t feel unsatisfied: I enjoyed the fan theories and excitement around the series! It was a fun communal experience, in a season where we aren’t getting a lot of those! I liked the unfolding mystery, and I think the show ultimately resolved what it meant to resolve, in the sense that Wanda caused a problem, and then stopped causing a problem, and we learned more about her in the process.
But tantalized? Nah. I don’t play Marvel’s post-credits “Ooh, I can’t wait for the next one!” game at all. I enjoy MCU stories while they’re happening, but anticipation culture is toxic as hell, and I stay out of it. I mean, after this story, are you dying for Multiverse of Madness, or salivating to see Monica Rambeau meet Nick Fury, or worried about Billy and Tommy, or anything like that? Did the ending give you feels for the future?
Susana: I would say that I enjoyed the engagement of WandaVision, but I think Wanda might have been my least favorite part of the show. No, wait, Hayward, the paper-thin government bad guy who’s just there as a roadblock slash plot device, he was my least favorite part.
Tasha: You understand more about SWORD than I do — does it make any damn sense that the FBI would be able to arrest him? I would think in a comic-book world, the secret agency that deals with city-obliterating magic threats would outrank the public agency that deals with federal crimes. And I’m not even sure what Hayward did that’s prosecutable. He reassembled a high-powered government weapon and sent it after an otherwise untouchable domestic terrorist who was keeping hundreds of American citizens as hostages? Sounds pretty legit to me. At the inevitable Congressional hearings, he’s gonna be hailed as a hero.
Susana: In the comics, SWORD is just SHIELD for space. I have no idea how it works in the MCU. And I have no idea why New Vision wasn’t transformed into a Westview analogue when he went through the hex, either. Like I said: least favorite part.
I liked Monica, and I wish she had been a greater part of Wanda’s self-actualization climax. After earlier episodes seemed to set her up almost as a dual protagonist to Wanda, it fell flat to me to have her tell Wanda, “Enslaving an entire town to your will accidentally instead of going to therapy is bad, yes, but pobody’s nerfect!” I’d like to see more for one of the genre’s slim number of Black female characters, and, frankly, I don’t think, “Well, maybe she’ll have more to do in a movie coming out in 2022” is a very palatable answer.
I want to see more from Billy and Tommy as well, but I worry about that for a simple reason: They’re both queer. Unless I’m missing some minor character, they’re the first characters in the MCU who are queer in the comics. And I don’t mean “Well in this one parallel Earth story, they were depicted as gay,” or “Writers weren’t allowed to say they were bi, but the subtext has been there for years and they recently got to kiss one (1) girl on the lips one (1) time.”
I mean that since getting his superpowers, Billy’s barely appeared in a comic without his boyfriend-now-husband Teddy. And that Tommy is currently dating the mutant character Prodigy and chillin’ on Krakoa. WandaVision skirted around the issue by keeping them elementary-school age, but if you let those kids grow up any more — like, say, to recast them for a theatrical film appearance — the deniability will fade.
Maybe it’s overly cynical of me, but I worry that Disney will refrain from giving us more from the characters for exactly that reason. Although to be fair, America is also very established as queer in the comics, and she’s been cast!
Tasha: That’s opening up a really big area that we probably don’t have to worry about for the immediate moment, since they’re currently both kinda-notional children, apparently in need of rescue, maybe somewhere off in the multiverse. Given the MCU’s vague-at-best interest in any form of sexuality that isn’t Howard or Tony Stark’s womanizing, it simply may never come up, even if these two do force-grow themselves into adults at some point down the line. Think of all the MCU characters whose private lives we know nothing about, and how rare it is for an MCU story to spend any time on relationships for any reason other than pain: Peggy Carter mourning Steve Rogers, Clint Barton aching to get back to his family, Natasha Romanoff mooning over Bruce Banner, and so forth. Ignoring the boys’ eventual love interests may be craven, but it’d be in character for the MCU.
But speaking of the future, let’s loop back to the opening question. There are certainly ways to continue Wanda’s story from here, outside the MCU movies, which have bigger agendas. This exact approach, with the early sitcom pastiche fakeouts, can’t work again, at least not without diminishing returns. But as fans noted during the theorizing era of the show, there are certainly any number of powerful beings out there that could show up to offer Wanda a different version of what she wants. Do you think there’s any potential in a future series focusing on her? Can we get the Mephisto deal everyone seemed to be hoping for?
Susana: Some folks I know have said to me, “Susana, how can you think Mephisto might be in the cards? Do you really think Disney wants to come out and say that hell exists in the MCU? Like, the actual religious concept of several major world faiths, hell?”
And my answer is, “Come on, you know Marvel Studios wants to make a Ghost Rider movie.” They’re making Blade; vampires are going to be in the MCU. Dracula is probably going to be in the MCU. Oscar Isaac is going to play Moon Knight, and that guy works for an actual omnipresent god figure, not like those lightweights on Asgard. But I digress.
I think there’s plenty of potential in Wanda — to be fair, I think that about virtually all characters — but I don’t think the show could have the same structure again. The “Wanda makes a bubble” plotline, the sitcom styling; those feel hyper-specific to the broader themes of the season, and I think revisiting them would feel like a retread rather than a reinvention. But there are plenty of options for writers to pull from to make a story about Wanda searching for a better way to make her family whole, if she doesn’t accomplish some of that in Doctor Strange first.
Tasha: Like what? If not Mephisto and the giant can of religious worms he opens up (mmm, religious worms), what in the existing Marvel Comics do you think might make for a worthwhile season 2 or 3? Are you thinking about other powers that could offer her a deal, or something even further out? Can Superboy Prime fly in from the other comics multiverse and punch reality really hard until it coheres into a timeline where Vision is alive?
Susana: Everybody laughs at the Superboy thing, but some of us had to live with Jason Todd being alive again.
Provided that there isn’t a Wanda/kids reunion in Multiverse of Madness, I think any writer would at least have to examine the Young Avengers story Children’s Crusade for ideas of where to go next. Taking place after House of M, in a period where Wanda had gone missing, the book is all about Young Avengers members Wiccan and Speed (sorry, Billy and Tommy) realizing that they aren’t just two teen superheroes who didn’t meet until they were on the same team. They find out they’re the reincarnated souls of the Scarlet Witch’s lost children, and decide they’re gonna find her and introduce themselves, no matter what the rest of the Marvel universe thinks about it.
Also that story has Doctor Doom in it, so who knows: It could be the excuse Marvel needs to make Fantastic Four happen!