Amidst all the references and Easter eggs jammed into the first two episodes of WandaVision, there’s a sneaky nod to the debut of a major Marvel hero.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for WandaVision Episodes 1 & 2, now streaming on Disney+.
WandaVision, Marvel’s first original show for Disney+, has finally arrived, and the first two episodes are a fascinating mash-up of sitcom satire and deep-cut Easter eggs. The Bewitched-style animated opening of Episode 2 was a prime example, perfectly capturing ’60s era sitcoms while loading the sequence with hidden references, but there’s one reference that’s so fast and small that it takes a keen eye to notice.
During the water cooler vignette, if one squints hard or blows up the image, they can make out “a-57” on the upper-right corner of the cooler. What looks like a model number is actually a nod to The Avengers #57, the October 1968 Marvel Comics debut of Vision. Not only is the issue notable for his debut, but this issue has one of the best covers in the series, proclaiming, “Behold … The Vision!”
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The comic book origins of Vision, like his MCU counterpart, are bound to Ultron. However, in the comics, it’s the original Ant-Man, Dr. Henry Pym — not Tony Stark — who is responsible for the construction of the sinister machine. Similarly, Vision’s powers aren’t tied to an Infinity Stone, but rather to the original Golden Age Human Torch. This Human Torch was himself an Easter egg in Captain America: The First Avenger, on display in a glass tube at the 1943 Stark Expo.
Unassociated with the Fantastic Four‘s Johnny Storm, this Human Torch is an advanced android created by Professor Phineas Horton. Built out of the professor’s experimental synthetic “Horton Cells,” the android’s skin burst into flames when exposed to oxygen. Though initially deemed a menace, the first Human Torch would eventually be recognized as a hero, and during one of his adventures, the Human Torch was duplicated by a villain, Immortus.
Ultron, who was bitter from his first defeat at the hands of the Avengers, cooked up a plan for revenge. He got his hands on the duplicate Human Torch and kidnapped Professor Horton. As his captive, Horton altered the android to suit Ultron’s needs. The android was tinted red, and the Horton Cells were altered so this android would possess density shifting powers, no longer busting into flames.
However, Ultron discovered that Horton refused to erase the memories of the Human Torch from the duplicate’s mind. The soon-to-be Vision witnessed Ultron slay Professor Horton, so he attacked Ultron out of vengeance, but Ultron defeated the android and implanted a control crystal in his forehead.
Ultron sent his new creation after The Avengers, and the Wasp encountered him first, describing the android as, “some sort of unearthly inhuman vision.” The Vision was subdued, and the team regrouped to examine him. Once together, Vision turned back on and fought the Avengers a second time.
Eventually, he calmed down enough from fighting, and Vision explained who sent him and why. Vision found himself unexpectedly sympathetic to the Avengers and agreed to lead them back to Ultron. There, he turned on his master, breaking through the programming of his control crystal and proving pivotal in Ultron’s second defeat.
Afterward, Ultron’s creation asked to become an Avenger. He was tested by Thor, Captain America and Iron Man, who deemed him worthy and allowed him to join the team as The Vision. His romance with Scarlet Witch would happen years later, but since his introduction, Vision has been a staple member of The Avenger‘s roster. Fitting in a clever nod to the landmark issue that introduced him is just another flourish in WandaVision‘s unique presentation.
Written by Jac Schaeffer and directed by Matt Shakman, WandaVision stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany as Vision, Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo, Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Kathryn Hahn as Agnes. New episodes air Fridays on Disney+.
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