WandaVision is almost here. After months of speculation, we will soon know what the first true MCU series has in store. But a new TV spot has turned our theories on their heads. It points to a classic Marvel Comics arc that could set up a giant cosmic conflict and establish an entirely new status quo. It all comes down to a single timepiece whose hands could point to the future of the MCU.
The MCU has made a tradition of using things like license plates, street signs, and even text messages to reference particularly impactful comic issues. (For example: Spider-Man: Far From Home featured an airport cab with the license plate “AF1562″—an homage to Amazing Fantasy #15 (1962), the first appearance of Spidey. In a later scene involving Peter and MJ’s first kiss, a crashed car’s plate read “TASM143,” referring to The Amazing Spider-Man #143, the first place readers saw a romantic smooch between the iconic lovebirds.)
Taking that tradition to heart, we are examining the timepiece in the “Signal” TV spot. Its hands read 1:16 or 1:17; so what does that mean? Which issues should we be looking to? And have we been in our houses for too long? Well, like any Wanda and Vision story, a good place to start is with the Avengers. And it just so happens that Avengers #116 and #117 are part the Avengers/Defenders War arc. This could tell us a lot about WandaVision and how it might shape what we see when the MCU returns in 2021.
Marvel Comics, cover art by John Romita and Mike Esposito
Spanning Avengers #115-118 and Defenders #8-11, this 1973 event (by Steve Englehart, Bob Brown, and Sal Buscema) provides one of the earliest examples of the now commonplace comic book crossover. And it happens to star a ton of heroes we’re expecting to see in Phase 4. The core story centers on the titular teams as they battle Dormammu; the lineup includes Wanda, Vision, Thor, Captain America, Black Panther, Mantis, Iron Man, and Swordsman.
While we know Tony won’t be appearing as Iron Man in Phase 4, we could see a Riri or, more likely, a Rhodey taking on that mantle. Otherwise, this all seems very Phase 4. Especially when we look at the fact that Disney just cast Tony Dalton as Swordsman. Then there’s the fact that the teams are on a mission to save Black Knight, Kit Harington’s character in Eternals.
The Defenders team also features characters we’re expecting to see in the next phase of the MCU. Valkyrie, Doctor Strange, Hulk, Hawkeye, Namor (hinted at in Endgame), and the Silver Surfer. With the Fantastic Four headed to our screens, we know the Surfer will soon follow; Marvel’s First Family briefly pop up here. As you can see, the arc already fits with the roster we’ve been expecting. But things get even more interesting when we look at what the comic’s actually about.
Dormammu and the Impact on WandaVision
The story sees Dormammu trying to get around a pact he made with Strange about not harming Earth. We witnessed the same pact at the end of the 2016 movie; Doctor Strange tricked Dormammu into leaving Earth and promising not to return. But Avengers/Defenders War introduces a way for Dormammu to make an unexpected play for power.
In the story, the villainous demon enlists Loki to trick the heroes into finding the pieces of an artifact known as the Evil Eye. Its pieces are spread around the world and he needs them in order to bring Earth into his own dimension. That way he can claim he never returned to Earth, but that Earth returned to him. This smart workaround would set up a long-running Infinity Stones-style conflict for the next phase. Plus, we know that the Evil Eye can control dimensions. So could Dormammu be the one who has put Wanda into the strange mind-prison of WandaVision?
Since the first posters of the series, there have been some obvious suggestions to whom the big bad might be. Mephisto is the easiest answer. The devilish character plays a dark part in Wanda’s comic book history, which is connected to her two sons. We know the boys will play a part in the series so it seemed to make sense that Mephisto might be involved. Then there’s Wanda herself. The comic arc House of M sets up Scarlet Witch as both antagonist and protagonist, creating the pocket dimension she seems stuck in. But in recent TV spots, we’ve heard people asking, “Wanda, who is doing this to you?” implying she is a victim. With WandaVision leading directly into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it would make sense for Dormammu to be the one pulling the strings.
How Could This Affect the Wider MCU?
In Avengers/Defenders War, Loki and Dormammu manipulate the warring teams into locating the shards of the Evil Eye for Dormammu. The MCU TV shows could establish that very storyline. We do know that there’s some kind of gem/stone/artifact situation going on. We’ve seen a recurring motif in the trailers showing Wanda reaching out to the blue object that once sat atop Loki’s scepter in the MCU.
This object contained the Mind Stone. But this moment in the ads is vague, and there’s always the option that it could be a shard of the Evil Eye. If that’s the case, then Falcon & Winter Soldier, Loki, Hawkeye, and even She-Hulk could all be vehicles to introduce or expand on this new part of canon. It would reflect (but not directly repurpose) the storyline from Avengers/Defenders War and could keep a solid core storyline of heroes collecting MacGuffins.
Could We See Doctor Strange in WandaVision?
We may well be getting a Doctor Strange appearance on the show. Strange and Dormammu are deeply connected. Adapting this storyline would be an easy way of putting Steven and Wanda on the same path. Plus, Dormammu is an interdimensional villain, which would make a lot of sense in the context of the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel. If Dormammu is trying to create or control dimensions in order to get his vengeance on Earth and Strange—who essentially annoyed him into submission—there’s a good chance things could get out of whack. After all, the titular multiverse has to come from somewhere, right? The MCU has been looking for a new cosmic-sized antagonist since Thanos was decapitated while making breakfast. Dormammu would definitely answer that need.
While all of this is very much just theorizing, Avengers/Defenders War is definitely worth a read. The arc feels like a template for what’s coming next. Not only does it feature a ton of characters we know are on deck, but it sets up another event level conflict. It also seems like too much of a coincidence that the clock would point at a number representing a Wanda/Doctor Strange team-up comic. Especially when we’re talking about a massive TV series that’s leading into a huge movie about the pair.