Marvel has kicked off its New Year 2021 with a surreal throwback parody series WandaVision starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as Wanda Maximoff and Vision, respectively. Right off the bat, the series seems like an innocent parody of the 1950s sitcom format. But we soon realize there is a tad more darkness and mystery than what meets the eye.
The first episode follows Wanda Maximoff and her droid husband, Vision arriving in the picturesque Westview and attempting to fit in.
Vision can change his robotic appearance into a human and works at a computation office while Wanda is busy completing her household chores with a touch of magic. But it is the second episode where the ‘real’ fun begins. Wanda and Vision perform an improvised magic act at the local fundraiser, which becomes a hit.
However, something is already wrong because Wanda has heard voices on the radio talking directly to her, and she is not happy about it.
Soon after, Wanda discovers that she is pregnant, and we see her with a baby bump. Simultaneously, an uninvited man in a beekeeper’s uniform turns up outside Wanda’s house. She refuses his presence with a ‘No,’ and the world rewinds back to when she discovers she is pregnant.
The Beekeeper disappears, and WandaVision’s world suddenly goes from black and white 50s to colored 60s. Things are not far from a salad of barely related thoughts, and we are left asking – what the heck happened in the end?
Let us break it down one by one.
1. Is the Beekeeper ‘Swarm’? Why Was Wanda Afraid of Him?
If the first episode ends mostly on normalcy, things get crazy by the second episode. It all starts with Wanda discovering the first hint of color in her black and white world. A red toy helicopter lands on the bush in her front yard. It has a familiar logo of the counterterrorism and investigation agency, S.W.O.R.D.
The next time we see this logo is at the end of the episode when a mystery Beekeeper climbs up a manhole in front of Wanda’s house. Bees are swarming around his suit. (It is most likely a he)
The mystery around this unwelcome visitor increases when Wanda almost wills a rewind in time to avoid seeing the Beekeeper, and the world changes from black and white to a colored one. The Beekeeper has to be someone important. But who is he? More importantly, has his existence been deflected, or will he come back?
In the Marvel comics, there’s a supervillain named Swarm, a former Nazi scientist and Beekeeper who combined his consciousness with a colony of mutant bees. He first appeared in 1977’s Champions #14. The superhero Swarm was yet to appear in the MCU, but he’s known as an enemy of Spider-Man in the comics and animated television series.
For those not in the know, patrons of the Spider-Man series, Sony Pictures, and Marvel had beefed over the creative rights of Spider-Man in the past. But Marvel and Sony eventually struck a deal to co-produce the Tom Holland-led Spider-Man movies. So there is a chance that Sony could have allowed Marvel to introduce Swarm into its cinematic universe with WandaVision.
2. The S.W.O.R.D. connection
The S.W.O.R.D. Emblem on the helicopter and the Beekeeper has surfaced for the first time in the Marvel Universe. With the toy helicopter being the only dash of color in the black and white sitcom reality, it could signify an infiltration of Wanda’s reality.
We are yet to see how the Beekeeper and the helicopter play out in the narrative. Maybe they indicate that S.W.O.R.D., a S.H.I.E.L.D. like agency could be introduced later in the series.
Here’s a quick recap of what S.W.O.R.D. stands for. In the comics, the acronym stood for Sentient World Observation and Response Department, similar to S.H.I.E.L.D. but operating in space. It was first introduced in 2004’s Astonishing X-Men #3, created by future MCU heavyweight Joss Whedon.
The MCU organization also appeared in the promotional images for a Topps digital trading card set for WandaVision. It even had a breakdown of S.W.O.R.D.
3. Is the Beekeeper an A.I.M. Member? What’s the Strucker Connection?
There is another potential explanation behind the mysterious Beekeeper. The suit worn by this guest of the night is vaguely similar to those worn by scientists of A.I.M., the criminal organization Advanced Idea Mechanics. A.I.M. first showed up in 1966’s Strange Tales #146 as an off-shoot of HYDRA, another of Marvel’s fictional terrorist organization determined to take over the world.
The leaders of A.I.M. included the android Super-Adaptoid, Bruce Banner’s former flame Monica Rappaccini, and M.O.D.O.K. Other noteworthy members of A.I.M. were Yelena Belova and Taskmaster. Most of these characters are returning in upcoming films and series on various O.T.T. platforms.
Then there is Baron von Strucker, a part of A.I.M. As we know, Wanda and Strucker share a somewhat dark past. It was Strucker who had led the Mind Stone experiments on Wanda and her brother Pietro back when the stone was under Loki’s watch. In a way, von Strucker is directly responsible for Wanda’s transformation into the Scarlet Witch and her present reality.
Several A.I.M. operatives and technicians have sported uniforms and helmets resembling those of the Beekeeper in WandaVision. Add to it the reference to HYDRA in the Strücker Watchers commercial, and it makes sense that the Beekeeper could be a member of the HYDRA branch A.I.M.
The fact that Wanda did not wish to see the Beekeeper can be explained by her memories associated with the uniform. If the reality of Westview is indeed a result of her ability to warp reality, then an A.I.M. operative will only remind her that her world was not real. Thus, her resistance to accepting his existence in her world.
4. Is Wanda Really Pregnant?
Wanda can obviously not get pregnant in such a short period. Her pregnancy was perhaps a pointer to the narrative from the ‘House of M’ comic series where Wanda gives birth to twins. The birth is not biological as she creates them using magic. Emphasis on the word creates since Wanda is shown as capable of carving her reality.
The series will probably follow this narrative, and another detail that indicates the same is Wanda’s costume at the magic show. The “Scarlet Witch” moniker is more than apparent, and the magic act itself is but a glimpse of the extent of Wanda’s power.
Wanda improvs to save the act and prevents Vision from revealing his true superhero self due to a ‘gum trouble’ he ran into at the town meeting. She turns a life-size piano into a two-dimensional painting, apparates a woman from behind the stage to inside a cabinet on stage, among other impressive feats.
Maybe it is a subtle hint that Wanda is also creating the whole Westview as we see it. After all, Vision did die at the end of Infinity Wars, and since WandaVision is not likely to be a prequel, how is Vision even alive? Unless he is alive only in Wanda’s head.