Marvel may have found an elegant solution to a superpowered problem.
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for WandaVision, Season 1, Episode 5, “On a Very Special Episode…”]
Until recently, mutants could not exist in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel had sold the rights to the X-Men and even the concept of “mutants” to 20th Century Fox (now 20th Century Studios) in the late ’90s, and 20th Century wasn’t going to give them up. When Disney purchased 20th Century, Marvel had the rights back to the X-Men and mutants, but a new problem presented itself: If superpowered people had been roaming the globe, then why didn’t they pitch in on the many crises that the Earth had faced over the past decade? And if there were people with superpowers, didn’t that diminish concepts like the Avengers where a small group of extraordinary people came together to fight a common cause?
On this week’s newest WandaVision episode, titled “On a Very Special Episode…,” Marvel Studios may have revealed how they plan to work mutants into the MCU without disrupting everything that came before. This episode established that Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) has the ability to rewrite reality (previously, her powers in the MCU were limited to telekinesis and telepathy). That revelation paid off later in the episode when there was a knock at the door and it was Wanda’s brother Pietro, but not the Pietro we had seen in Avengers: Age of Ultron played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson. This was the Pietro Maximoff came from 20th Century’s X-Men movies Days of Future Past, Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix, played by Evan Peters. So what exactly happened here? Did Wanda “recast” her brother as Darcy (Kat Dennings) speculated?
I don’t believe so. I don’t think Wanda plucked some rando to be her brother and that rando happens to be the same actor who played the role in a different universe of superhero movies. Instead, we know there’s a multiverse in the MCU, and we know that Wanda can reshape reality. When you combine these two things together, I believe Wanda has pulled Pietro out of one reality and into the MCU, but still has the telepathic hold on him that she has on everyone else in Westview (with maybe the exception of Agnes, who seems to know what’s going on).
Why pull Pietro out of the X-Men universe rather than resurrect him like Vision (Paul Bettany)? Because as this episode established, in order to “resurrect” someone, Wanda first needs a body, and she doesn’t have Pietro’s (likely very decayed, at this point) corpse. To bring back her Pietro wouldn’t be feasible, so she pulled a Pietro from a different reality, and once you can pull characters from other realities, you’ve essentially created a pathway to bring back mutants without disrupting the canon of why they weren’t present prior to this point.
It also allows Marvel Studios to pick and choose which actors they want to reprise their roles for the MCU. For example, Kevin Feige has confirmed that Deadpool 3 is an MCU movie, and they’re obviously not going to recast Ryan Reynolds in the role. But if you look at a character like Wolverine, where Hugh Jackman wanted to hang up the role after Logan, you could bring in a new actor as the character and say he’s from a different reality. It’s essentially an inversion of the famous House of M storyline where instead of Wanda saying “No More Mutants” and decimating the worldwide population of mutants, it’s “Way More Mutants,” giving the MCU license to bring in as many mutants as they want played by whomever they want.
Wanda’s ability to manipulate reality is basically the doorway the MCU needs to start merging reality and create a multiverse that allows them to bring in characters previously inaccessible due to licensing rights. Peters’ Pietro is the first character to crossover from a different superhero universe into the MCU, but he’ll likely be far from the last.
WandaVision Episodes 1 through 5 are now available to stream on Disney+. New episodes of WandaVision air every Friday. For more, check out our latest WandaVision Easter egg round-up and ponder the biggest questions from “On a Very Special Episode…” with us.
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