[Editor’s note: This post contains spoilers about WandaVision, so proceed at your own risk!]
WandaVision has turned out to be a great show – so much better than I’d expected. It’s continuing the story of the Marvel Cinematic Universe after Avengers: Endgame, it’s spoofing old sit-coms masterfully, and it’s re-introducing minor characters who’ve appeared in a wide variety of different Marvel films. Seeing Darcy again, now with a doctorate, was great. Seeing Monica Rambeau as an adult was amazing. But seeing one of my personal favorites, Jimmy Woo, was the thing that I personally loved most. That guy is hilarious.
But one aspect of the show, which I’d viewed as almost a throwaway, came to my attention this past week when I read an article about WandaVision‘s commercials. They begin in the black-and-white 1950s, and many contain some reference to a traumatic event in Wanda’s past. We’ve learned that those controlled by Wanda experience her grief and hopelessness. Wanda surely has enough trauma in her past, and enough to feel grief about. Beyond that, Joseph Aberl on Murphy’s Multiverse has drawn a parallel between these ads and the Infinity Stones. I’m not entirely sure whether that’s overanalyzing things, but it’s interesting to consider.
This 1950s-era commercial for a retro-futuristic toaster is the first of the commercials to represent a traumatic event from Wanda’s past. In this case, it’s the death of her parents, which she had for many years blamed on Tony Stark.
I’ll share Pietro’s quote from Avengers: Age of Ultron:
“We were ten years old, having dinner, the four of us. When the first shell hits two floors below, it makes a hole in the floor. It’s big. Our parents go in, and the whole building starts coming apart. I grab her, roll under the bed, and the second shell hits. But it doesn’t go off. It just sits there in the rubble, three feet from our faces. And on the side of shell is painted one word: Stark.”
And so this Stark toaster, in its shiny metal casing, represents a couple things. Firstly, it represents the Stark Industries bomb that killed Wanda’s parents. If you’ll notice, the beeping that the toaster makes is nearly the same beeping made by the Stark bomb that exploded in 2008’s Iron Man and put the shrapnel in Tony Stark’s chest.
Additionally, if you look at the toaster as it’s beeping, we get the first bit of color we’ve ever seen in the series. The red light. And the front of the toaster also kind of looks like a face. A robot face. Or maybe a synthezoid face? And, hmm… that red light is right in the part of the face where Vision’s Mind Stone was.
The traumatic event represented by the 1960s Strücker Wristwatch commercial seems pretty straightforward. Wolfgang von Strücker is the name of the Hydra agent who had kidnapped Wanda and Pietro and performed experiments on them using The Space Stone, which is what gave them their powers. You can even see “Hydra” printed on the watch. Given that the two of them were in cages the first time we saw them, I certainly think it qualifies as a traumatic experience.
The first commercial that doesn’t represent a traumatic event from Wanda’s past, the Hydra Soak commercial calls back to the seventies “Calgon, take me away” with its “for when you want to get away, but you don’t want to go anywhere.”
If it lined up chronologically like the others, the next big traumatic event for her was the death of her brother. But the bubble bath acting as an escape from reality mirrors what Wanda has done in creating her own reality in Westview.
One of the more obvious references, the Lagos paper towels, “For when you make a mess you didn’t mean to,” references the incident in Lagos, Nigeria, at the outset of Captain America: Civil War. After stealing a biological weapon, Brock Rumlow, AKA Crossbones, had caught Captain America off-guard and activated a suicide vest he was wearing. To save everyone, Wanda encased the exploding Crossbones in energy and launched him high into the air. Unfortunately, there was a high-rise nearby, and the explosion took out an entire floor. Wanda was devastated to have inadvertently killed innocents while trying to save lives, and likely continues to carry that guilt.
The latest commercial is another without any real clean and clear comparison. As best I can determine, the yogurt snack with the un-removable lid fails to sustain the kid in the commercial in the same way that Westview can’t enduringly keep Vision alive. I don’t know whether the shark, or even the crab is supposed to represent anyone. These things will likely become more clear as the series progresses.