WandaVision was exactly the show it was selling itself as, with the first two trailers stating its artistic and commercial intentions right from the start.
In terms of “spoilers” for what did not happen on finale of Marvel’s WandaVision, there were no big-name cameos from established MCU players like Doctor Strange. The episodic fantasy concerning Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch and Paul Bettany’s Vision did not feature shocking appearances by Professor Xavier or Reed Richards. It was not a backdoor pilot for an X-Files-like show starring Randall Park, Teyonah Paris and Kat Dennings. Whether you enjoyed the MCU series finale the entire nine-episode arc on its artistic merits, any disappointment related to Easter Eggs, interconnectivity, surprise cameos, world building or macro-consequences is on you. Disney and Marvel told you exactly what WandaVision was going to be, a riff on the Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life,” from the very first trailer.
Released in October of 2020, the first teaser for the first Disney+ MCU show presented its core hook plain as day. Yes, Wanda was apparently using her powers to cosplay decades of situational comedies to create a reality where Vision was still alive, and she was a happily married wife and mother. We not only got that set-up in the trailer, we got Wanda using her powers to remake her fantasy on a whim, Vision being confronted with his own mortality, Kathryn Hahn’s nosy neighbor cackling maniacally, Teyonah Paris’ Monica Rambeau being blasted out of the fantasy world and into the real one and citizens expressing pain or anger and their captivity. The second trailer, released in December, gave away even more.
It featured Wanda continually changing the narrative to suit her fantasy, the real world trying to communicate with Wanda and her captives, Vision questioning his new reality and a hint that Kathryn Hahn’s cheerful neighbor may have sinister intentions. It closed with Wanda and Vision declaring that they’ll fight for their home, imagery from the finale episode which promised a conventional action-packed MCU ending. Anyone paying attention to the marketing could tell you that Wanda was the puppet master who had created a fantasy world, and that WandaVision used the TV gimmick as an unexpectedly timely metaphor for how we use pop culture nostalgia as a soothing balm for present-tense pain. Fan theories and speculation aside, WandaVision delivered on its marketing promises.
In terms of folks being disappointed with getting what was promised, well, the SEO-driven media landscape has monetized “fan theories.” The once-harmless playground/water-cooler chatter has become a driving force for online media coverage. While most MCU movies are 75-95% stand-alone in nature (think “monster of the week” episodes of X-Files or Buffy), the online economy is predicated on every MCU movie merely being a prologue for the next one. Thus, every film is filled surely filled with clues and hints as to the next chapters, right? Even when such theorizing proves wrong again (Steve Rogers didn’t die in Civil War) and again (there were no Infinity Stones hints in Black Panther), this mindset dominates a major and vocal section of online fandom.
Not helping matters are actors jokingly dropping “clues” about mind-bending cameos (spoiler: the legendary actor whom Paul Bettany always wanted to act against was Paul Bettany), which are treated like gospel and set up some fans for disappointment. Moreover, and this is a symptom of an increased sense of fans “owning” the properties which they love best, the notion of a show or movie succeeding or failing is now predicated on A) whether your fan theory turned out to be correct and/or B) whether the show or movie was able to offer something that absolutely nobody predicted. So WandaVision can only be a success if it ends up being a backdoor pilot for Metaphysico or a way for the X-Men to enter the MCU.
Save for arguably Captain America: Civil War, which was a Steve Rogers sequel that was structured like Captain America 3/Iron Man 4 or Avengers 2.5 and introduced Tom Holland’s Spider-Man along with Chadwick Boseman’s Black Panther, the non-Avengers MCU movies don’t exist to launch other properties. You didn’t have to see Iron Man 2 to understand Thor anymore than you had to see Ant-Man to enjoy Spider-Man: Homecoming. Yes, all of the solo movies expected you to have seen the “mythology episodes” (the Avengers movies), but that was a reasonable assumption. Otherwise you didn’t walk into Thor: The Dark World expecting to see the opening salvo of Captain Marvel or Guardians of the Galaxy. Again, Marvel’s interconnectivity is desert, not the main course.
The result is, at least for some louder subsections of fandom, an expectation, driven more by an Internet blogpost/YouTube economy driven by speculation and hot takes than by the actual product or even the studio marketing, of mind-blowing cameos, surprise connectivity or “didn’t see that coming” plot twists. Sure, we all speculated as to what it meant when Quicksilver showed up in the form not of Avengers: Age of Ultron’s Aaron Taylor-Johnson but of X-Men: Days of Future Past’s Evan Peters, but true to MCU form it was a con. As a huge fan of Shane Black’s hilarious and politically pointed “that marquee character is really just a random actor” Iron Man 3 plot twist, I appreciate the chutzpah of doing it again.
That WandaVision might be more than what the marketing promised is a symptom of modern spoiler culture. Everything is now treated as a spoiler, even simple introductory plot points or “in the middle of the movie” exposition. As such, there is an occasionally doomed presumption that the movie is going to offer far more than what the marketing is selling. Sometimes, like Unbreakable, The Dark Knight Rises or The Last Jedi, that’s true. Sometimes, like Split, Interstellar or Tomorrowland, what you see is exactly what you get. That’s not always a deal breaker (because general audiences are not the same as “online fans”), but there is a risk of disappointment when the movie or show in question is merely as promised.
Whatever lingering consequences of Wanda’s “kidnap and mentally torture a small town” mental break might have for her or the MCU in general will have to wait until Sam Raimi’s Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In the end, there were few mind-blowing cameos, few macro-developments and (save for Rambeau getting superpowers for Captain Marvel 2) backdoor pilots. It was a singular, self-contained television show, released weekly no less, about a woman who channeled her grief into pop culture nostalgia and used her powers to turn an entire small town into a stereotypical sitcom utopia because it was easier to live in a fantasy than confront the cruel reality. WandaVision was the show promised by its marketing all along.
Source: Forbes – Business