Disney Plus has scheduled its MCU streaming series WandaVision to debut in January, and with just two months to go until it premieres, there are still plenty of mysteries to unpack about the surreal series, which incorporates odd sitcom elements, and perhaps even deep Marvel Comics lore.
We've unpacked many of the ways Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch, has impacted Marvel Comics and how those ideas could shape the next era of the MCU, but what about the other half of the equation – the Vision?
For decades in comic books, Vision was one of the central characters of the Avengers, with his relationships with Wanda, Hank Pym, Ultron, and Kang shaping wide swaths of Avengers continuity for many years. Now, with Paul Bettany returning to the MCU after Vision's apparent destruction in Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel may be setting the stage to explore a whole different side of Vision: his life as one of greatest threats of the Marvel Universe.
The idea of Vision as a villain isn't so far-fetched: in both comic books and in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he was created by Ultron as a weapon to destroy the Avengers. And in both cases, he betrayed Ultron and joined Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
But in comic books, that was not the end of Vision's villainous history.
And given how Vision's return to villainy took place – and the bad guys involved – Vision's comic book heel turn may have huge implications for his return in WandaVision, and his potential ongoing presence in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Who is the Vision?
Much like in his MCU incarnation, Vision was built by the villainous Ultron (in comic books a construct of Hank Pym rather than Tony Stark) to destroy the Avengers. Originally created from the body of the original WWII-era android Human Torch with brain patterns based on the personality of Simon Williams/Wonder Man, a then-deceased adversary-turned-ally of the Avengers, Vision is a wholly unique artificial intelligence creation called a synthezoid, with the power to change his density at will.
Unlike in the MCU, he's not powered by the Mind Stone, but by a solar energy-absorbing gem on his forehead, which allows him to shoot powerful energy beams.
When Vision was first sent to fight the Avengers, he nearly dispatched the entire team. But they swayed him to betray Ultron and join the side of the heroes, leading to the immortal scene in which Vision is offered membership on the Avengers, shedding emotional tears that belie his android nature.
In the years following his introduction to the Avengers, Vision became a core member of the team, with many stories revolving around his budding relationship with Scarlet Witch and his complex family tree involving Hank Pym, Ultron, Wonder Man, and his brother the villainous Grim Reaper, and many more characters.
But after decades in good standing with the team, Vision had an intense personality change thanks to the interference of some well-known comic book villains, and almost conquered the Earth.
How did Vision go bad?
During a fight with Annihilus, a creepy insectoid Fantastic Four villain from the Negative Zone, Vision's matter phasing powers go haywire, and he's stuck in a coma of sorts for weeks, emerging in an immaterial, holographic form. This strains his then-budding marriage with Wanda and their young twin sons William and Thomas, and his relationship with the team. He eventually regains his form, becoming chairman of the Avengers and seemingly recovering from the strain of his previous condition.
But all is not well – Vision's synthezoid mind was affected by his time trapped in intangible form and years of interference by not just Ultron but the time-traveling Immortus (more on him shortly). Vision has what can be described as a kind of psychotic break, and he attempts to interface with and control every computer on Earth to conquer the world – resulting in the Avengers being forced to take him down and reprogram him back to normal.
After this attempt at computerized conquest, Vision is monitored by a coalition of government agents meant to stop him from going bad again. But when he returns to the Avengers alongside Scarlet Witch, the agents, under the influence of Immortus, capture and dismantle Vision, who is eventually rebuilt as a plain white, emotionless android without Wonder Man's brain patterns.
This strains his relationship with Wanda again, as the resurrected Wonder Man, who is secretly in love with Wanda, doesn't want to give his mind to Vision again. Though Vision eventually does regain his emotions and rebuild his relationship with Wonder Man, his marriage to Wanda is over.
Coupled with the disappearance of their sons, themselves constructs of the demon Mephisto, Wanda's own psyche takes a toll that eventually leads directly to the events of 'Avengers: Disassembled' and House of M.
How could this affect the MCU?
WandaVision seems to by the lynchpin of the next few entries in the MCU, including Loki, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and more. To that end, it's somewhat curious that Vision himself hasn't seemed to make it out of the Disney Plus streaming series alongside Wanda, who will appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
WandaVision's trailers have painted a picture of a surreal superhero sitcom that seems to transition through multiple settings – and which also seems to exist in an environment that is much more than meets the eye.
Though we can't say for sure exactly what WandaVision's mysterious neighborhood is – and perhaps that's grounds for more exploration on its own – the presence of Kat Dennings' Darcy and Teyonah Parris's Monica Rambeau, who in comic books shares her MCU mother's career in the Air Force, suggests it could be a government facility dedicated to containing Wanda and studying her powers. Remember Tony Stark kept Wanda under similar confines in Captain America: Civil War, in which her MCU relationship with Vision began to blossom.
That being the case, could Vision be a rebuilt government construct, similar to his one-time comic book fate?
That certainly might explain some things – and if he's got the Mind Stone again somehow, that may also explain some of the shifting nature of WandaVision.
So how could that extrapolate to the rest of the MCU? Well, we mentioned Immortus, and that may be the key.
If Vision's WandaVision resurrection happens at the hands of the government, similar to comic books, it could also be Immortus pulling the strings. And if that's the case, Vision's resurrection may have immediate ramifications, as Immortus's younger self Kang (you can read how that works right here, in our rundown of Kang the Conqueror's many lives) is reportedly the villain of Ant-Man 3.
Could WandaVision be seeding not just Wanda's ascent to a much more central MCU role, but Vision's as well – as a villain?
Shocking perhaps, but as you've seen, that would have comic book precedent – and it could certainly seal the deal with the MCU's potential move toward House of M.
WandaVision is part of Marvel Studios' next stage of storytelling, so get up to speed with everything we know so far about MCU's Phase 4.