Every Marvel Cinematic Universe title is full of references to other characters and organizations, but “WandaVision,” which premiered on Disney+ on January 15, also offers plenty of Easter eggs for fans of classic television sitcoms.
The show, which marks the superhero franchise’s first original installment on Disney’s streaming service, stars Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as their MCU characters Wanda (aka Scarlet Witch) and Vision. Despite Vision’s apparent death in 2018’s “Avengers: Infinity War,” the duo appear to be living an idealized life in a suburb — until they realize that things aren’t necessarily as they seem.
Check out all the show’s references to the rest of the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as its myriad throwbacks to classic TV sitcoms below.
[Editor’s Note: The following article contains slight spoilers for “WandaVision” Episodes 1-8.]
Marvel Cinematic Universe Easter Eggs
From the debut of Wanda’s comic book costume and Monica’s superpowers to the debunking that the X-Men — turns out, Pietro was just some guy called John Boehner and only happened to be played a former Quicksilver actor — have joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe (for now), “The Series” finale was chock-full of references to the rest of Disney’s film franchise and the comic books that came before it.
Of course, this is a Marvel Cinematic Universe show, so some of the episode’s nods hint at where the franchise will be going in the future. For starters, Agatha notes that Wanda is more powerful than the Sorcerer Supreme, which is an in-your-face reference to Doctor Strange and the upcoming “Multiverse of Madness” film, which “WandaVision” is expected to connect to. The series closes with Wanda in an astral form researching magic, which is exactly what Doctor Strange did in his 2016 film. As for Monica, she meets with a Skrull near the end of the episode, which suggests she’ll finally be heading to space, likely just in time for the upcoming “Captain Marvel” sequel.
One of the biggest remaining questions is the status of the white Vision. As mentioned last week, this white Vision is a spin on an old Marvel comics plot where the superhero was reconstructed, albeit without his emotions or memories. Though the “good” Vision is seen apparently sharing his memories with his white-hued counterpart, it’s unclear what this means for the white Vision and how the character will play into future franchise installments — including whether he has regained any feelings for Wanda.
The eighth episode of “WandaVision” was primarily focused on fleshing out Wanda’s backstory and answering fans’ most burning questions about the show — Wanda is indeed responsible for Westview’s predicament — but the episode also boasted a few nods to Marvel comics. One of those was rather in-your-face: Agatha claims that Wanda can utilize “chaos magic” during their confrontation in the episode finale and states that that makes her a “Scarlet Witch.” At long last, Wanda’s superhero alias makes its debut in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. What’s particularly interesting about the duo’s interactions throughout the episode is that Agatha suggests that Wanda’s powers were amplified by the Mind Stone, which suggests that Wanda already had latent superpowers before volunteering for HYDRA experiments.
“WandaVision” Episode 8 included a mid-credits sequence that teased Hayward has finished rebuilding a white-colored Vision, which is a reference to a West Coast Avengers comic book storyline. In the comics, Vision was at one point destroyed and reassembled with a white outfit, albeit with fewer human emotions. and none of the original Vision’s memories. Hayward’s actions throughout “WandaVision” have been fairly antagonistic and it’s likely that his white-colored Vision could play a key role in the show’s season finale.
It’s been Agatha all along! Episode 7 seemingly confirms that Wanda’s not-so-innocent nosy neighbor has been manipulating events in Westview throughout the series. As noted in IndieWire’s prior “WandaVision” Easter egg breakdowns below, the comic book version of Agatha Harkness was a witch who once served as a mentor to Wanda before being killed by the superhero. The comic book character had the ability to project thoughts into other people — which could explain a lot about the events in “WandaVision” — among other powerful abilities. The sinister book in Agatha’s collection is also worth noting: It’s possible that the book could be the Darkhold, which has already appeared in the franchise’s other shows, or the Necronomicon, which Wanda had history with in the comics. It’s unclear how important the mysterious book will be in future episodes but it’s probably not a coincidence that the book was briefly in the spotlight near the episode’s finale.
Episode 7 served as the (true) reveal of Agatha, and it was also the superhero origin for Monica, who could control all energy in the electromagnetic spectrum in the comic books. Monica’s powers awakened after she crossed back into Westview (strain your ears and you could hear the voices of Nick Fury and Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel while Monica was breaking back into the town).
As for Episode 7’s commercial, the “Nexus” antidepressant is a clear reference to Marvel’s Nexus of All Realities, which served as a doorway to other realities, among other things. If the Nexus ends up being more than a cheeky reference in a fake advertisement, it could end up being used to introduce the multiverse to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The Halloween-themed sixth episode of “WandaVision” offered a nice excuse for the show’s key characters to don iconic superhero outfits. Wanda decks herself out in a red “Sokovian fortune teller” costume that is a direct throwback to the character’s iconic outfit from the comic books. Vision also (reluctantly) dresses up in an outfit that is simultaneously described as a “traffic light,” “half-shucked corn,” and a “booger.” Vision’s outfit could also be described as a reference to the costume he traditionally wore in Marvel comics; it’s a bit garish compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s more grounded superhero costumes, but Vision decks himself out in his MCU outfit later in the episode.
Quicksilver, Tommy, and Billy also get in on the Halloween spirit. Quicksilver and Tommy, who appear to have inherited Quicksilver’s super speed powers, deck themselves (and their hair) out in costumes that are reminiscent of their comic book outfits, while Billy gears himself up with a red cap that is similar to the outfit he wore as a member of the Young Avengers in the comic books. Speaking of Wanda’s kids, Quicksilver refers to the duo as “demon spawn,” yet another tease about Tommy and Billy’s potential origins. Mephisto has been rumored to be the big bad of “WandaVision” and while the character’s existence in the franchise has yet to be confirmed, Quicksilver’s quip could end up being more foreboding than just a cheeky coincidence.
Rounding out the costume references is Agnes, who is seen in a basic witch outfit, which plays into the fan speculation that she’s the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s incarnation of Agatha Harkness, who mentored Wanda but was later killed by her in the comics. Time will tell if “WandaVision” adapts the character’s comic book history in the show’s remaining episodes.
Outside Westview, “WandaVision” Episode 6 dropped another hint that Monica’s experience in the town has permanently changed her. Darcy mentions how Monica’s body has drastically changed after entering and exiting Westview and though the character has yet to display any feats of superheroics, it’s becoming fairly obvious that “WandaVision” is doubling as a mini superhero origin story for Monica.
The fifth episode of “WandaVision” ended with a bombshell twist that will leave viewers with plenty of questions, but the episode also answers several of the biggest mysteries that have surrounded the series. First: It appears that Vision is indeed alive, given the security footage of Wanda stealing his body shortly after the events of “Avengers: Endgame.” Speaking of that film, the Avengers and friends climactic battle against Thanos is apparently well-known, at least by government officials, as Darcy and Jimmy noted that Wanda and Captain Marvel were able to hold their own against the supervillain.
Episode 5 also boasts another shout-out to the “House of M” comic arc, which “WandaVision” is partially inspired by, when Vision folds a newspaper so only “HOM” is visible. The episode also sees Wanda’s Sokovian accent return — the character’s accent has been inconsistent throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe but “WandaVision” offers a possible answer: Wanda ditched her accent in an attempt to fit in after joining the Avengers but is no longer attempting to hide it now that she’s no longer attempting to integrate herself in the “real” world. Another aspect of Wanda that is touched on is her superhero alias, or lack thereof: Wanda is known as Scarlet Witch in the comics but Episode 5 confirms that the alias is currently unused in the MCU.
Like the rest of the show’s fake commercials, Episode 5’s ad for “Lagos paper towels” is a throwback to Wanda’s past trauma. She used her powers to redirect an explosion in Lagos, Nigeria during “Captain America: Civil War,” which led to the Sokovia Accords and much of the world’s political leaders losing trust in Wanda and the Avengers.
Episode 5 could also end up serving as part of the superhero origin story for Monica Rambeau, as SWORD scientists were unable to X-ray her after she was ejected from Wanda’s vision. Monica is able to manipulate the electromagnetic spectrum in the comics and occasionally used the Photon alias, the latter of which was already referenced earlier in the show.
Finally, Episode 5 ends with the shocking reveal that Wanda’s brother, Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver, has been “recast” by Evan Peters (who portrayed the character in 2014’s “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”) Given that Aaron Taylor-Johnson played the character in “Age of Ultron,” it’s possible that “WandaVision” has opened up the possibility of the multiverse, which has long been anticipated by Marvel fans. “X-Men” characters were already expected to appear in the MCU and the new version of Quicksilver could serve as a lead in to the upcoming “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” Is the recast Quicksilver the result of Wanda tearing down the multiverse, or could it be the doing of Mephisto, who has been rumored to be the primary antagonist of “WandaVision”? Nothing is certain, but it’s clear that the universe-shattering twist of “WandaVision” Episode 5 could have ramifications for the franchise for years to come.
The fourth episode of “WandaVision” is the first to take place primarily outside Wanda’s sort-of fantasy land (what’s exactly going on in Westview is still unclear) so it’s no surprise that the episode of full of Marvel references.
The episode’s most obvious references to the Marvel Cinematic Universe are its handful of returning characters: Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) appeared as supporting characters in the franchise’s older films.
“WandaVision” boasts an older incarnation of Monica, who was portrayed by Azari Akbar in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” The character is introduced in “WandaVision” as she is coming back to life following Thanos’ killing of half the universe (see: “Avengers: Endgame”). Shortly after, she learns that her mother, Maria Rambeau (portrayed by Lashana Lynch in “Captain Marvel”), died from cancer while Monica was still snapped out of existence (A plaque of Maria is seen in the episode where she has the codename “Photon,” which is one of Maria’s superhero aliases in Marvel comics lore.) Maria founded SWORD, or Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Department, prior to her death, an organization from the comic books that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has retooled into an organization that deals with threats such as artificial intelligence.
Darcy, who appeared in the first two “Thor” films, has transitioned from being Jane Foster’s (Natalie Portman) assistant to a SWORD associate. As for Parks’ character, who previously appeared in “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” Jimmy has traveled to Westview to investigate the disappearance of the town’s population. He references the alien Skrulls species (who appeared in “Captain Marvel” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home”) in the episode and does a card trick that indicates his love for Ant-Man’s card tricks caused him to take up the hobby.
One of Episode 4’s final scenes is a disturbing one: Wanda turns to see Vision and sees his mangled head without its iconic Infinity Stone. The scene is a direct reference to “Avengers: Infinity War,” where Wanda watched Thanos kill Vision and take his Infinity Stone. The scene doesn’t confirm whether Vision is truly dead but hones in on how Wanda is still suffering from the traumatic events she experienced over the duration of the last few Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
Wanda gave birth to two Marvel references in Episode 3 in the form of Billy and Tommy. In the comics, Wanda also gave birth to twins of the same name using Mephisto’s power, and her children grew up to become Wiccan and Speed, superheroes who joined the Young Avengers team.
Speaking of Wanda’s family, her brother, Pietro, was mentioned by Monica Rembeau in Episode 3. As franchise fans will remember (and Monica helpfully explains), Pietro was killed by Ultron in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” shortly before Wanda officially joined the superhero team. Monica also boasted reference to Marvel lore via her necklace adorned with a SWORD symbol, further honing in on the idea that she clearly doesn’t hail from Westview. SWORD is expected to play a larger role in “WandaVision” in the show’s later episodes.
As for other references: Hydra Soak. In stores now! The show’s latest in-episode commercial touts a reference to the sinister organization and is the second time HYDRA, which caused Wanda great trauma earlier in her life, has been name-dropped. The advertisement could also be a call back to an “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Season 4 episode where a HYDRA “mind control soap” that gives people false memories was referenced.
Like most reference-heavy shows, some of the Easter eggs in “WandaVision” are more in-your-face than others: The show’s first two episodes featured fake commercials that tout names that will be instantly familiar to franchise fans. Episode 1 boasts an ad for a Stark Industries toaster, which is an obvious shoutout to Tony Stark/Iron Man, who was portrayed by Robert Downy Jr. in a variety of Marvel films. The toaster has a blinking red light in the ad that serves as the show’s first splash of color, and its increasingly loud beeping becomes rather unsettling, especially when the salesman in the ad says to “forget your past, this is the future,” given the trauma Wanda endured throughout past Marvel Cinematic Universe films.
The Episode 2 ad touts a Strucker watch that features the HYDRA logo. Wanda was a test subject of HYDRA (the evil organization primarily featured in the “Captain America” films) leader Wolfgang von Strucker (played by Thomas Kretschmann), who died in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” It’s probably not a coincidence that both of the show’s fake ads have featured names of people who negatively impacted Wanda earlier in her life.
Fake ads aside, “WandaVision” also boasts a few references to old Marvel comics. A wine bottle in Episode 1 is labeled Maison du Mépris, which translates to House of Misery. House of M was a Marvel comics storyline where Wanda suffered a mental breakdown after losing her children and used her magic powers to create a new reality where her children were still alive. Wanda has yet to have children in the MCU timeline — though the end of Episode 2 suggests that could change — it’s possible that Wanda created a new reality following the death of Vision. “WandaVision” also uses references to help get viewers up to speed on each character’s backstory and abilities. For example, Wanda’s home of Sokovia is also referenced in Episode 1, when Vision makes an excuse for her behavior to his boss during a dinner scene, and Vision’s (almost) indestructible body and android origins are also humorously mentioned throughout the episodes.
The secret SWORD (Sentient Weapon Observation Response Division) organization is also alluded to throughout “WandaVision.” A toy helicopter bearing the SWORD is shown in full color in Episode 2, and its contrast with the black-and-white setting suggests that Wanda’s “reality” might be falling apart. A mobile SWORD command center is seen at the end of the show’s first episode, and offers an indication that someone is monitoring Wanda’s reality. As for who is representing SWORD, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park, who portrayed the FBI agent in “Ant-Man and the Wasp”) is heard calling out to Wanda on a radio in Episode 2. There’s no indication on how Jimmy came to be the one monitoring Wanda, but the reference is one of the show’s clearest ties to the rest of the franchise yet.
As for more subtle references, the animated segment early in Episode 2 boasts a few cheeky references to Wanda’s comic origins: Posters at a supermarket Wanda is shopping at advertise Bova milk and Auntie A’s cat litter. Bova milk is a reference to a mutated cow that served as Wanda’s nursemaid in the comics, while Auntie A’s is likely a reference to Agatha Harkness, a witch who had close ties to Wanda in the comics and owned a cat.
References to Classic Sitcoms
Episode 7 was all about being modern — family that is. Wanda’s breaking of the fourth wall, the abrupt cutting between something terrible to her lying in bed, were all references to ABC’s “Modern Family.” That series, somewhat like “WandaVision,” followed a seemingly average family as they navigated a host of personal and professional problems. Unlike Episode 6, which hewed consistently to “Malcolm in the Middle,” this week’s opening theme and credits weren’t all about “Modern Family.” They also drew from shows like “The Office” and “Happy Endings.” And let’s not forget the second opening theme and reveal that Agnes, Wanda’s seemingly benevolent neighbor, was anything but. That opening theme song, returning to black and white, was a riff on “The Munsters” and “The Addams Family.” Both shows looked at monstrous characters invading suburbia only to show they were just like everyone else. That being said, it’s doubtful Agnes’ intentions are as good as the Addams clan.
As the series transitioned into more overt storytelling in Episode 6, the classic television references are becoming more individualized. The biggest takeaway from this most recent episode was how heavily influenced it was by “Malcolm in the Middle.” That series, running for seven seasons starting in 2000, followed a gifted young boy named Malcolm (Frankie Muniz) as he navigated growing up and his crazy family.
The opening credits of this week’s “WandaVision” directly borrowed the opening credits, as well as Malcolm’s penchant for talking directly to the camera. And let’s not forget the in-episode commercial this week. The commercials have drawn from all manner of famous commercials (“Calgon, take me away,” anyone), but this episode drew on the weird dread of being a kid in the 1990s. A young boy stranded on an island is starving, only to have a shark show up with a yogurt container the boy — starving remember — can’t open. The boy dies…..but at least he has yogurt. In talking on social media the commercial drew on all manner of weird, existential commercials such as the Hi-C and Capri Sun commercials but, most importantly, the ad for Gushers that posited that one bite of these juice-filled jellies would turn your head into a berry or banana!
We’re entering the 1980s with Episode 5, and it all starts with an opening credits sequence that you might find familiar. Wanda and Vision’s family painting is a direct callback to 1982 series “Family Ties” that starred a young Michael J. Fox. The theme song also draws comparison to another family series starring a teen icon, that being “Growing Pains” starring Kirk Cameron. But keep your eyes peeled for that moment in the credits wherein Wanda and Vision run at the camera, that’s a direct reference to the sitcom “Full House,” starring actress Elizabeth Olsen’s real-life sisters, Mary-Kate and Ashley.
In terms of storytelling, the tagline of “A Very Special Episode” is pertinent in the classic sitcom world. These types of episodes generally dealt with tough and uncomfortable real-world topics that families might undergo, whether that be alcoholism, divorce — or in the case of Wanda’s world this episode, death itself. Both “Family Ties” and “Growing Pains” did very special episodes, but it was “Full House” that traumatized a generation with its look at the death of a grandfather. It may not be Sparky the day-old dog, but the intent is the same.
Pietro isn’t the only character to have gone through “recasting!” This actually happens a lot in the sitcom world. The most famous of the classic television era is the story of the two Darrins on “Bewitched.” Actor Dick York would end up leaving the popular supernatural sitcom during Season 5 only to be replaced by actor Dick Sargent, who would play the role throughout the rest of the series’ run. Other examples of on-set replacements include the two Darlenes in “Roseanne,” the original played by Lecy Goranson, and then her replacementSarah Chalke.
This isn’t the first time Disney has done it either. In the 1990s series “Boy Meets World,” series lead Cory Matthews (Ben Savage) saw his little sister Morgan replaced during Season 3. The series commented on the switch by having Morgan say she was up in her room during “the longest time-out ever.”
The third episode of “WandaVision” propels the audience into the 1970s and almost seems to tie into the theme of the episode itself, wherein Wanda gives birth to twins. The connections to other series about families is immediately set with a theme song heavily inspired by the likes of “The Partridge Family” and, especially, the 1969 series “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” The set itself, with its rocky entryway and stained glass windows seems more directly inspired by the house built for the Brady clan from the landmark television sitcom “The Brady Bunch.”
Many of the pregnancy tropes Wanda engages in have been done in numerous television shows, several outside the sitcom sphere. This is mostly the case with her “express” pregnancy. The concept of a woman going into labor quicker than the usual nine months is a common plot element in science-fiction shows, from “Doctor Who” and “Farscape,” to more modern television sitcoms like “Third Rock From the Sun.” In nearly all the usages of this the pregnancy is advanced because the baby is a hybrid of some sort, a half-human and half-supernatural entity.
Vision’s response to Wanda going into labor plays on every panicky father moment in television, whether that’s Ricky Ricardo (Desi Arnaz) accidentally leaving the house without his wife in “I Love Lucy,” right down to Uncle Jesse (John Stamos) grabbing a full rack of his wife’s close. To add further complications, Wanda’s doctor is about to leave for vacation, drawing on the more modern convention of women giving birth at the most inopportune times (by television standards).
As for earlier in the season, if that kitchen looks familiar, it’s heavily inspired by the kitchen Rob and Laura Petrie used in “The Dick Van Dyke Show” which ran from 1961-1966. In fact, there are several allusions to the series in both the premiere and Episode 2. Vision hopping over the chair to answer the door is akin to Van Dyke’s famous opening credit sequence, while Wanda’s wardrobe in Episode 2 borrows heavily from Mary Tyler Moore, who became legendary for being a housewife who wore pants.
The opening theme song for the pilot — describing Wanda and Vision as a newlywed couple moving to town from the big city for a quiet life — has a few progenitors. Stylistically it sounds similar to the theme from “The Donna Reed Show,” which ran from 1958 to 1966 and starred Reed as the perfect housewife. But in terms of the lyrics, telling the background of the characters so time isn’t wasted on exposition, that is a common theme of most sitcoms from the 1950s to 1970s. If anything, the premiere theme sounds inspired from the 1963 series “The Patty Duke Show,” wherein that theme song discussed how Duke played the dual role of “identical cousins.”
One thing you might not notice immediately is Wanda asking Vision if he wants the ultimate breakfast of champions, composed of pancakes, eggs, hash browns, coffee, and juice. That’s a common poke at sitcoms which leaned heavily toward housewives like Donna Reed being able to whip up a complex breakfast on a dime. The 1999 feature “Pleasantville” also humorously mocked this trope.
The plot between Episodes 1 and 2 sets up the idea of Wanda being able to do common housewife elements with magic, only to have it backfire. Couple that with Episode 2’s theme song and you have the plot of “Bewitched,” wherein witch Samantha Stevens (Elizabeth Montgomery) lives with her mortal husband. The opening animated titles of “WandaVision” Episode 2 directly reference the animated opening for “Bewitched.” On top of that, Kathryn Hahn’s nosy neighbor Agnes appears slightly drawn on Samantha’s next-door neighbor, Gladys Kravitz.
The woman advertising the Stark toaster has a similar look and hairstyle as Lucille Ball in the iconic series “I Love Lucy.” Ball and husband Desi Arnaz created the “I Love Lucy” series after the former found success through her radio show. The pair would found DesiLu Studios, with Arnaz becoming one of the only Latino television executive/producers.
The plot about forgotten anniversaries and bosses showing up for dinner are common to sitcoms over several decades. Examples that have utilized one of both include the likes of “Bewitched,” “Three’s Company,” and “Family Manners.”
The second episode opens with Wanda and Vision sleeping apart in single beds, only to have the beds pushed together when they hear a strange noise. The trope of “sleeping single” comes from the 1930s when the Hays Code forced movies to agree to moral rules to keep audiences’ from wanting to engage in anything untoward. When television arrived, these rules were maintained, as well, depending on the series. In “I Love Lucy,” Lucy and Ricky Ricardo would regularly sleep in two single beds pushed together, only to have them separated once Ball became pregnant in reality. Both “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “The Addams Family” would have the characters in single beds, in spite of their obvious amorous intentions for each other. “Bewitched” would be the first series to break the trope, with Samantha and husband Darrin (Dick York) sleeping in a non-single bed together.