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Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
WandaVision (Marvel Studios), House Of M #6 (Marvel Comics)

Why House Of M might be the key to understanding WandaVision

WandaVision (Marvel Studios), House Of M #6 (Marvel Comics)
Image: The A.V. Club

Wanda Maximoff is happy. That alone should set off alarm bells for Marvel fans, but there’s more: She’s in love with the Vision, an artificial man, and she has just given birth to his twin sons Thomas and William. Everything is going right for her, but it’s not real. The Vision is dead. The twins don’t exist. It’s all an illusion created by Wanda’s ill-defined (yet worryingly intense) magic powers.

That’s how Brian Michael Bendis and Olivier Coipel’s House Of M event started in Marvel comics in 2005, and it also happens to be the plot of Disney+’s first Marvel Cinematic Universe TV series WandaVision. The two stories go off in wildly different directions from there—House Of M was a universe-shattering crossover event that (temporarily) altered the lives of everyone in the Marvel universe while WandaVision is, so far, a wacky sitcom parody/superhero horror story—but understanding one might be the key to figuring out what’s going to happen in the other. After all, House Of M eventually revealed that the Scarlet Witch was being manipulated into using her powers to change the world, and WandaVision keeps teasing that someone other than Wanda is pulling the strings (as evidenced by the sudden arrival of a “recast” Pietro at the end of the most recent episode, which Wanda seemingly had nothing to do with).

House Of M spun out of Bendis’ Avengers books from the same time, which had a storyline that involved Wanda losing control of her “reality-altering hex powers” and causing the deaths of multiple Avengers (including Vision and Hawkeye). Magneto, who believed at the time that Wanda and Pietro were his children (more on that later), showed up and took her away so he and Charles Xavier could figure out a way to help her. When the Avengers and the X-Men learned she’d been coping with the trauma by creating little pockets of an alternate reality, specifically one where she was back with Vision and has twin sons, they met up to figure out what they should do in case she lost control again and ended up altering all of reality… at which point all of reality was suddenly altered.

Wanda’s dream is localized to a suburban neighborhood in WandaVision, trapping herself and an untold number of regular people in a perfect sitcom world where everyone is happy and everything goes according to plan. In House Of M, it covered the entire planet, conveniently creating the perfect world that Magneto had always dreamed of and one where all of the Avengers and X-Men seemingly had their deepest desires granted as well. In the new reality, mutants were the dominant species and humanity was on the verge of extinction, with Magneto ruling over it all as the universally beloved head of the House Of M.

Naturally, people gradually figured out that the world wasn’t what it was supposed to be and a bunch of superheroes showed up at Magneto’s front door to finally kill him once and for all, and then figure out how to undo whatever Wanda had done. But Magneto had no idea how or why Wanda created the new reality. It was actually Pietro who whispered in Wanda’s ear and convinced her to use her powers to remake the world, with him believing that by giving everyone—including their father— what they wanted, they could all finally be happy. Wanda realized she had been manipulated her whole life, first by her absentee terrorist father and then by her well-meaning superhero brother, so she lashed out at the entire mutant committee and altered reality a second time. With three words, “no more mutants,” she decimated the planet’s mutant population and left hundreds of thousands of them (including her father and brother) powerless.

So what does this have to do with WandaVision? Well, Disney now owns the adaptation rights to the X-Men and all associated mutant characters, and fans have been wondering how Disney will eventually integrate them into the MCU. When “new” Pietro showed up at the end of WandaVision’s “On A Very Special Episode,” it wasn’t just any actor: It was Evan Peters, who played a different version of the character in several of Fox’s X-Men movies. One interpretation, and the one that Marvel is presumably counting on viewers to make, is that this is the X-Men version of Pietro—as in, the one who is a mutant, making this the first appearance of a mutant in the MCU. Pietro pushed Wanda to create the House Of M reality in the comics, so perhaps the Pietro from Fox’s X-Men movies somehow crossed over to the MCU and is here to manipulate Wanda into creating a new reality in the same way? Maybe WandaVision will end with a reversal of “no more mutants” from the comics and have Wanda actually bring mutants into the MCU?

There may be an even bigger player trying to use Wanda’s power to enact their will on the MCU. Magneto’s involvement was a fake-out in House Of M, but screwing with his own daughter to achieve his goals is very much the sort of thing he would do. So what if he’s the one doing it on WandaVision? It could very well be none other than the Master Of Magnetism, possibly even played by X-Men movie alum Michael Fassbender, pulling the strings behind the scenes of Wanda’s sitcom paradise and using her “hex powers” (as recently named by Dr. Darcy Lewis on the show) to create a new world for him and mutantkind.

And this isn’t just a fun theory based on a comic book, either. “On A Very Special Episode” quietly laid quite a bit of important groundwork for this to work with relative ease. For starters, the S.W.O.R.D. agents investigating what Wanda’s doing to Westview made a point to name her and Pietro’s birth parents, who died in Sokovia before the events of Avengers: Age Of Ultron. That could be setting the stage for some other man to come along and tell Wanda that he’s her real father—someone like Magneto. WandaVision also showed footage of Vision with his body all ripped up and a S.W.O.R.D. agent reiterated that his body is made of vibranium, a metal, to illustrate how powerful Wanda must be if she was able to repair him and resurrect him. But what if it was, say, a guy with magnetic powers who fixed Vision?

Then there’s the Evan Peters version of Pietro/Quicksilver. If the Magneto of Fox’s X-Men movies is running things and possibly giving Wanda directions on how to use her powers (or maybe he’s literally directing her, since she’s living on a TV show), the only version of Pietro that he would know is the version from his universe—i.e., Fox’s X-Men movies. He might not literally be the Quicksilver from those movies and he might not literally be the Quicksilver that MCU Wanda knows, but there’s definitely a reason why WandaVision cast Evan Peters instead of bringing back Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who played Pietro in Age Of Ultron. 

Whether or not WandaVision pulls any more plot points from House Of M, it seems safe to assume that, like with the comic, Wanda’s not going to come out of this experience unscathed. House Of M was a turning point for Wanda Maximoff—the X-Men grew to hate her for wiping out so many mutants, while the Avengers hated her for killing some of their friends (they’ve all since come back, but still). In the immediate aftermath, she lost her powers and her memory, and Marvel later retconned her and Pietro’s backstories to reveal that not only are they not Magneto’s children, but they’re not even mutants. In fact, Wanda is viewed as sort of an antichrist figure (“The Pretender”) in modern X-Men comics. The impact of House Of M is no longer felt and the Marvel Universe shifted back to the status quo a long time ago, but nobody’s allowed to forget that the Scarlet Witch is too powerful to be held on the same level as every other superhero.

In the MCU, we know Wanda’s going to be part of the next Doctor Strange movie, but there’s really no chance she comes out of WandaVision better off than she was when it started. The Vision probably won’t be resurrected for real, because the Infinity Stone that gave him life is gone. The twins probably won’t make it out because it seems unlikely that they ever existed in the first place. Plus, with S.W.O.R.D. seemingly intent on stopping Wanda, especially after she showed how easily she could force the agents to turn on each other, nobody’s going to just think of her as one of the Avengers after this.

In a recent interview with WandaVision creator Jac Schaeffer, io9 noted that the primary focus in the comics is often Wanda’s “trauma” rather than her being a person, and Schaeffer explained that the show’s writers recognized a “thinness” when it comes to her character in certain stories and that they wanted to avoid using her trauma as a “tool.” That seems to suggest that WandaVision won’t simply turn her into a pariah like the comics did, but it still remains to be seen what kind of story Wanda will have told when the credits roll on her sitcom fantasy. One thing will be clear, though: Wanda Maximoff is going to come out of this as much more than just a hero with ill-defined (yet worryingly intense) magic powers.