Up until now, the major baddies of the MCU have been HYDRA and Thanos. But Phase III has long concluded- it’s time for some fresh villains and Phase IV’s first offering i.e., WandaVision hasn’t disappointed as within just two episodes it has teased the possibility of not one, not two but six villains!
Let’s start the countdown, shall we?
The Grim Reaper
We are normally programmed to skip the opening and closing credits of a film or show but with WandaVision you will have to be extra vigilant as its credit titles seem to hide many clues. For starters, the Bewitched-style opening titles of the series’ second episode hides references to the witch, Agatha Harkness, and Bova the cow who raised Scarlet Witch in the comics. But the one that concerns us is the brief scene where Vision walks through the walls and of the many junk items resting in the shelves of their house, one is a very recognizable helmet that belongs to a notorious villain- the Grim Reaper.
In the comics, the Grim Reaper initially went by the name of Eric Williams who ended up becoming the feared villain after his brother, Simon (who was turned into Wonder Man by Baron Zemo) died while saving the Avengers. Fueled by grief and rage at losing his brother, Eric held the Avengers responsible and aimed to annihilate them. But his main issue was with Vision who possessed his dead brother’s brainwave patterns.
From there started a string of his very weird schemes like proposing to transfer the android’s consciousness into his brother’s preserved body, then offering to make Captain America the host instead, then reanimating his brother, followed by trying to kill both Wonder Man and Vision to get the “pure Simon” into a lookalike zombie instead. Whew!
What makes Grim Reaper’s appearance in the MCU a possibility is the fact that as of now, WandaVision appears to resemble Steve Englehart’s 1985 Vision and the Scarlet Witch miniseries as well as 2015-16’s Vision miniseries by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez a lot. So, as one of the main antagonists in those comics was the Reaper, hiding his helmet as an Easter Egg might have darker implications.
Okay, before you start, we agree that this villain one is rather old- older than Captain America is now *sob* But the second episode of WandaVision not only name-dropped the HYDRA leader, Strucker, who turned Wanda and Pietro into superhumans, but also seemed to imply that him or most probably, the terrorist organization is not done with the Avenger. Whether it’s the ominous line, “He’ll make time for you,” the continuous talk about children to plant the idea of becoming a mother in Wanda’s head, or the fact that the Reaper too was once working with the organization, HYDRA still seems to be in the picture and perhaps gunning to turn super-powered children into its slave-soldiers.
If we isolate the repeated insinuations aimed at Wanda about having children and the creepy chant of “For the children,” which ended with her discovering that suddenly she was pregnant, we have another villain who could actually be the mastermind behind the made-up reality Scarlet Witch is living in. It is Mephisto, the crafty demon who first appeared in the 1968 released The Silver Surfer #3 and goes by many names like “Lucifer,” “Prince of Lies” but is more famously known as “The Devil.”
In the second episode, we see the housewives of Westview are preparing for a talent show “for the children” when their haughty leader, Dottie remarks how the “devil is in the details” to which Agnes cheekily quips “that’s not the only place he is.” Any seasoned MCU fans knows that nothing is ever just a throwaway line in it. Also, given that it’s obvious that Agnes is really the powerful witch Agatha Harkness in disguise, she possibly knows much more than she is letting on which might confirm that it is indeed Mephisto who is being slyly referenced here. He possesses many powers but what concerns us is his ability to warp reality as well as time and to project illusions. He even has his own pocket-dimension that he likes to call Hell.
As for Mephisto’s history with Scarlet Witch, it was the shards of his soul that Wanda unknowingly used to create her twins, Billy and Tommy, who were ultimately killed when the Devil was resurrected. While this does not appear to the chain of events that WandaVision is following, Marvel Studios has a knack for morphing the comics storyline and its characters in ways that fits its bigger story which is currently headed for alternate timelines and multiple universes. So, who better than Mephisto to be the big bad of Phase IV and the harbinger of the multiverse? Even the trailer of Loki teased Mephisto’s arrival by including the picture of a devilish figure on a stained-glass window!
While Mephisto has tangled with many superheroes in the past, including Doctor Strange, the Devil once also faced-off with another villain who goes by the name of Beyonder. While WandaVision doesn’t make an obvious reference to him, if you look closely (like real close) at the commercial in its second episode, it appears to be more than just a reference to HYDRA.
In advertisements of watches even today, the dials are almost always showing the time 10:10- it allows other details of the watch like its logo plus the minute and the hour hand to stand out while giving it an overall symmetrical look. But instead, the time that the watch in the second WandaVision commercial shows is 2:42. Attention to detail is something Marvel Studios takes pride in and thus there are high chances that this peculiar time was meticulously chosen to invoke a certain villainous ancient being known as the Beyonder.
The time, 2:42, is possibly referring to the Avengers comics Vol 1 #242, where Vision returns to “life” after being deactivated by Fantastic Four’s nemesis, Annihilus, in #233 and reveals to the rest how he has detected the impending arrival of an immensely powerful force. This ended up being the Beyonder who kidnaps some of the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men etc along with criminals like Doctor Octopus, the Enchantress, Kang, Galactus. He pitted the warring factions against each other, thus beginning the Secret Wars on Battleworld, the planet he constructed.
Beyonder belongs to an alien race which resides in their own dimension beyond every universe and realm. Interestingly, he also possesses the ability to manipulate reality and is very fascinated (read: obsessed) by the concept of multiverse.
Towards the end of the second episode, Wanda who is suddenly pregnant, hears a noise outside and comes out on the street with Vision to check it out. We see a manhole cover opening and a man in a beekeeper suit climbing out. The symbol on the back of his suit is that of S.W.O.R.D. (Sentient Weapon Observation and Response Division), an organization that in the comics is like a sister branch of the now defunct S.H.I.E.L.D. While they are the good guys (maybe), the suit we see shares a rather stark similarity to the outfits worn by the genius but evil scientists of the criminal organization A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) who are power-hungry and always striving to upend the governments of the world
There is also the fact that A.I.M. was founded by the HYDRA leader Strucker who was also conveniently name-dropped in the second-episode. Maybe, just like S.H.I.E.L.D. was secretly infiltrated by HYDRA, S.W.O.R.D. is already crawling with the crooks of A.I.M.
Now this may sound a bit far-fetched. But as you have already made your peace with an article teeming with wild theories, hear us out. While the suit of the man who exists the manhole does scream “A.I.M.!” the swarm of bees swirling around him so does not. What they do remind us of is the Nazi supervillain Swarm, the sworn enemy of Spider-man in the comics.
He was formerly known as Fritz von Meyer who was initially one of Adolf Hitler’s top scientists. When he tried to enslave a colony of mutated bees, they consumed him completely leaving only his skeleton behind but his consciousness remained which then fused with that of the bees. It gave him the ability to manipulate the hive to do his bidding and encase his skeletal remains thus giving him an eerie but mostly weird form.
Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that future episodes of the series turn up with the answers to our burning queries. The premiere episodes of WandaVision are currently streaming on the official Disney+ app.