CS Soapbox: What is the WandaVision/The Incredible Hulk Connection?
WARNING!!!: This piece contains SPOILERS for WandaVision! Proceed with caution!
WandaVision and 2008’s The Incredible Hulk have pretty much the same ending. As the first live-action series to premiere as part of Phase 4 in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, WandaVision sets the stage for its central character. Long before the show became available on Disney+, fans speculated how it would adapt the comics’ “House of M” storyline, explore the much-hyped Multiverse, incorporate the newly-acquired mutants from Fox and lead into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Ralph Boner jokes aside, it certainly does the latter.
The Incredible Hulk may not have been Phase 1’s first outing but it was its second. Although Edward Norton exited the franchise and Bruce Banner/Hulk was overhauled with Mark Ruffalo, various threads from that movie have carried over into the MCU (William Hurt’s Thunderbolt Ross, Tim Roth’s Abomination in Disney+’s She-Hulk, etc.). However, its ending —which featured an overhead shot of a secluded valley, tea on the stove, and an anti-hero trying to meditate with a mischievous look in their eye- is eerily similar to WandaVision’s end-credits scene.
Wanda Maximoff is now officially Scarlet Witch, equipped with the Darkhold, and studying it via astral projection ala Doctor Strange. Walking through Westview’s crowd of disgruntled (understatement) citizens, Elizabeth Olsen’s last line in WandaVision was “I don’t understand this power but I will.” It would seem she’s using the Book of the Damned to master her chaos magic and perhaps rescue her children, whose cries for help we heard in those final moments, from an unknown pocket of the Multiverse.
Has she learned nothing? After unintentionally creating a sitcom reality and holding an entire town hostage just to spend more time with Vision, you’d think she’d proceed with some trepidation. Like Dr. Banner experimenting with gamma radiation, she doesn’t know what she’s doing. As much as we hate to admit it, Wanda was very much the villain (or rather anti-hero) of WandaVision and will presumably maintain her erratic hero status (and embrace her villainy?) in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Is that Mount Wundagore overlooking her new home? Will she be corrupted by the Darkhold and/or its author? Who knows…
If it’s not implied, Agatha Harkness flat-out told us in Episode 9, “it’s your destiny to destroy the world.”
Agatha then proceeded to release Westfield’s citizens from Wanda’s mind control. Wanda responded by accidentally choking them while in full denial of their suffering. “Heroes don’t torture people,” said Agatha. We may empathize with Wanda’s plight but there’s no denying that Westfield was the first incident, and whatever she does to the Earth/the Multiverse in the Doctor Strange sequel is the second.
This brings us back to The Incredible Hulk’s ending and another character’s historical chaotic powers. Like Wanda, Bruce was trying to better understand his power right before his eyes turned green and the screen read “DAYS WITHOUT INCIDENT: 0,” and the credits rolled. It’s worth noting that Hulk was originally going to start as an antagonist in 2012’s The Avengers before Zak Penn’s script was scrapped and Norton got replaced. Not only would this have mirrored the comics but jived with Norton’s darker character. Joss Whedon did touch upon Hulk as a threat (in both The Avengers and Age of Ultron) but never to the extent he could have.
So, is Marvel nodding to a thread they hinted at but never really got to explore with Bruce? Or is it simply just a nod? An argument can be made (easily) that Scarlet Witch now carries the mantel of ‘strongest Avenger,’ and with that strength comes weakness. It seems likely that Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness will see the good doctor come looking for the Darkhold, Wanda tear open the Multiverse, and then fight to close Pandora’s box, futilely uttering the phrase, “the sun’s getting real low.” Although, maybe it won’t be that cut and dry because Wanda, having lost Vision and now Billy and Tommy, is broken in a way she wasn’t 9 episodes ago.
“Don’t let him make you the villain,” Monica Rambeau implored in episode 8, to which Wanda replied… “Maybe I already am.”
Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange will team up and save the day regardless. It has been written. Whether we’re talking about Wanda/Scarlet Witch or Bruce/Hulk, both heroes just lose their way on occasion because they’re outsiders. They are characters that represent the parts of ourselves that we can’t control, provoked by confusion, rage, grief and -above all- isolation.
Marvel Studios wanted you to imagine a correlation between the aforementioned scenes because there is one. Just like how WandaVision’s mid-credits scene with Monica being recruited by a Skrull (Secret Invasion TV series?) is superficially similar to The Incredible Hulk’s credits scene with Tony Stark talking to Ross about the Avengers. As one hero gets built up, another gets broken down. History repeats itself and the show must go on. While those along for the ride may give Wanda the benefit of the doubt, her world does not. Sound Hulkishly familiar?