Marvel’s Eternals Footage Arrives With Captain Marvel & Black Panther Sequel Titles

It’s all rather, well, marvellous.

Marvel has dropped a new sizzle reel designed to celebrate its movies past and present as theaters slowly begin to re-open after a year of covid-19 induced lockdowns—and there are a few surprises within. After what feels like eons of waiting and delays, now finally have our first moving look at Chloé Zhao’s Eternals in action. Check it out below, the new footage starts at around 2:20 (after a brief reminder that Black Widow is still on the way, and even more Shang-Chi teases)—featuring very pretty location shots, our heroes mostly standing around together, Salma Hayek on a horse, and Angelina Jolie wielding a mystical sword!

Not only do we get that, however! Marvel also uses the video to give us the first official title reveal for Captain Marvel 2—starring Brie Larson’s Carol Danvers alongside Wandavision’s Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan—as The Marvels. Also included was the title reveal for Black Panther 2, out in July 2022, now officially known as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Here is the current release date breakdown so you can plan your next few years:

  • Black Widow: July 9, 2021
  • Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings: Septermber 3, 2021
  • Eternals: November 5, 2021
  • Spider-Man: No Way Home: December 17, 2021
  • Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness: March 25, 2022
  • Thor: Love and Thunder: May 6, 2022
  • Black Panther: Wakanda Forever: July 8, 2022
  • The Marvels: November 11, 2022
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania: February 17, 2023
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3: May 5, 2023
  • Fantastic Four: TBD

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Marvel’s Secret Invasion TV Series Enlists Game of Thrones’ Emilia Clarke

Illustration for article titled Marvel's Secret Invasion TV Series Enlists Game of Thrones' Emilia Clarke

Image: HBO

Looks like yet another Star Wars actor is making the jump to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Variety reports that Solo and Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke will be secretly invading or getting secretly invaded in Marvel’s upcoming TV series on Disney+.

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Clarke’s casting comes a single day after the announcement that The Crown star Olivia Colman would be joining the series, which means Secret Invasion will have two queens—Elizabeth II and the Khaleesi—on its roster. They’ll be joined by Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Ben Mendelsohn as the shape-changing Skrull Talos, and Kingsley Ben-Adir as the villain.

There’s no word on who Clarke or Colman will play, although in the original Secret Invasion comics, the invasion was masterminded by the Skrull empress Veranke masquerading as Spider-Woman. However, in Captain Marvel, the Skrulls are revealed to be pretty decent aliens and Spider-Man: Far From Home’s post-credits scene shows Fury and Talos palling around in space, which is surely where Secret Invasion will begin. Plus, I don’t know that Marvel’s ready to add a Spider-Woman quite yet, but you never really know. Now that the MCU is a multiverse of madness, pretty much anything is possible.

We don’t know when the Secret Invasion TV series will premiere, presumably because it’s a secret.


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Marvel’s Secret Invasion Is Being Invaded by Oscar Winner Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman is joining the MCU.

Olivia Colman is joining the MCU.
Photo: Amazon

How big is Marvel Studios these days? It can get Oscar-winning actors to appear not just in its movies, but on its streaming shows. Case in point: Olivia Colman, who won the Oscar for Best Actress in 2019, is joining up with Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn for Secret Invasion, one of several upcoming Disney+ Marvel shows.

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The Hollywood Reporter broke the news and though there’s no word on who Colman will be playing, “an infiltration of Skrulls on Earth figures into the proceedings” of the show, which is unsurprising since it shares a name with the iconic comics event where, well, exactly that happens. We don’t know for sure, but it’s likely that Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion picks up after the events of Spider-Man: Far From Home where Nick Fury (Jackson) was revealed to be out in space on a Skrull ship while Talos (Mendelsohn) was back on Earth, pretending to be Fury. All of which was set up in Captain Marvel, and likewise there’s no word on how, or if, the show will impact the sequel to that movie, which is set for release November 2022.

Colman won that 2019 Oscar for The Favourite—and, looking across her career, it’s so perfect that she won for that. In that role, she was required to be funny and dark and intense all rolled into one, which is basically everything she, herself, can do as an actress. Many of us probably remember her first from her small, funny role as one of the police officers in Hot Fuzz. More recently, she’s been stunning and stoic as Queen Elizabeth in The Crown. But she also stood toe-to-toe with new Indiana Jones cast member Phoebe Waller-Bridge for two seasons of the amazing Fleabag and got another Oscar nomination this year for her movie with with Odin himself, Anthony Hopkins, in The Father. She’s a powerhouse of talent that will be a formidable friend (or foe) to Fury and his crew.

Secret Invasion does not yet have a release date but One Night in Miami star Kingsley Ben-Adir is also on board, and Mr. Robot’s Kyle Bradstreet is showrunning.


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Star Wars Casting Rumors Shut Down by Marvel’s Sebastian Stan

Don’t expect Bucky to be going galaxy-hopping just yet.

Don’t expect Bucky to be going galaxy-hopping just yet.
Image: Marvel Studios

Morning SpoilersIf there’s news about upcoming movies and television you’re not supposed to know, you’ll find it in here.

Get a new look at The Suicide Squad. New Mortal Kombat footage teases Mileena and Kabal in action. Batwoman has found its next big comics villain. Don’t expect to see more Stormfront when The Boys returns. Plus, behind the scenes on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Spoilers now!

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Illustration for article titled Star Wars Casting Rumors Shut Down by Marvel's Sebastian Stan

Star Wars

Sebastian Stan denied rumors he’s attached to play Luke Skywalker in a future Star Wars project on Good Morning America.


The Suicide Squad

James Gunn has a new poster ahead of the trailer coming later today.


Ant-Man & The Wasp: Quantumania/Captain Marvel 2

According to two new listings from the Film & Television Industry Alliance, both Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania and Captain Marvel 2 begin filming May 31. Quantumania will shoot in London and Atlanta until September 24, while Captain Marvel 2 is said to film in London and Los Angeles. It does not currently have an end-of-filming date.

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Mortal Kombat

The latest Mortal Kombat TV spots include new footage of Mileena and Kabal.


Separation

Meanwhile, a marionette comes to life in the trailer for Separation, starring Brian Cox, Rupert Friend, Madeline Brewer, and “Twisty” Troy James.


Aquarium of the Dead

Vivica A. Fox takes on a zombified octopus, walrus, and Japanese spider crab in the trailer for Aquarium of the Dead.


Boys from County Hell

Shudder additionally has a new trailer for its Irish vampire comedy, Boys from County Hell.


Batwoman

Deadline reports Peter Outerbridge (Saw VI, ReGenesis) has been cast as Roman “Black Mask” Sionis. Promised to play a major role for the duration of Batwoman’s second season, the outlet describes the character—recently portrayed by Ewan McGregor in Birds of Prey — as “a pragmatic and charismatic CEO who plays the ‘white knight’ against Gotham’s corrupt systems” by night, Roman takes to the streets as Black Mask, “an evil mastermind with a deep hatred of The Crows and masked vigilantes” who is “willing to tear down Gotham to enact his revenge.”

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The Boys

During a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Aya Cash confirmed Stormfront does not appear in the third season of The Boys.

I want to know if she’ll be back too. I’m not there now…I’m on a new Fox show now called This Country. My contract for The Boys was only for a year so, who knows? Maybe they can CGI my face in.

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The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

The cast and crew discuss The Falcon and the Winter Soldier in a new featurette.

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Resident Alien

Finally, Harry’s plan of global genocide comes to fruition in the trailer for “Heroes of Patience” —next week’s season finale of Resident Alien. 


Banner art by Jim Cook

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WandaVision’s VFX Team on How Working From Home Brought Unexpected Balance

Wanda Maximoff trying to make dinner with magic

Wanda Maximoff trying to make dinner with magic
Image: Disney+/Marvel

Like many of WandaVision’s secrets, the true meaning of the show’s era-specific production values, aesthetics, and practical effects only became clear towards the series finale which properly ushered the Scarlet Witch into the MCU. The story behind some of WandaVision’s use of visual effects goes even deeper than that, though.

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When io9 sat down to speak with the team at MARZ (Monsters Aliens Robots Zombies), one of the studios that worked on the Marvel Disney+ show, VFX supervisor Ryan Freer, co-president Lon Molnar, and managing director Matt Panousis all agreed that working on a series like WandaVision in the midst of an industry-altering pandemic presented more than a few unexpected challenges. Having come out on the other side of the project, though, the trio all agreed that the experience left them confident in the future of comic book adaptations created for the small screen that capture most, if not all, the grandeur of their cinematic counterparts.


Charles Pulliam-Moore, io9: Talk to me about the production process for this show. How much of the plot was the team clued into from the beginning when you guys were brought on?

Ryan Freer: [laughing] Nothing, really. Marvel does a great job of showing you what they need to show you and what your group has to work on. Sometimes we get larger chunks to bid on as one of the vendors on the show, and we get we can kind of piece together what’s going on, but they keep a really, really tight lip.

io9: What was it like being in the dark about the show’s larger arc, but being able to feel out some of its specific shapes because of the work MARZ was doing? 

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Freer: With IP like this, it’s really cool because we know that there is potential stuff coming down the pipeline with Vision and Wanda, and seeing it all it starting to come together is really amazing. A lot of what we were working on this this season had been established before us, and there was a lot of reference out there already for the established Vision, if that makes sense.

io9: Right, yeah.

Freer: We’d never seen him in black and white before, and we’d never seen him do slapstick comedy, and a lot of his silliness this season presented us with a bit of a learning curve.

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Vision and Wanda realizing they’re about to become parents.
Image: Disney+/Marvel

io9: What were some of the final details in this series that casual viewers probably missed because of how WandaVision, at least at first, wasn’t working with a drastically different physical form for Vision? Especially because there’s so much parity between the character’s big and small screen depictions.

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Freer: The general audience, I don’t think, knows that you’re looking at visual effects every time you see Vision. His entire head other than just his eyes, his nose, and just a little bit of his mouth is all CGI. I went on to some Reddit boards, and people were saying, “How was the budget so huge on this show for visual effects?” and I went all the way down through all the boards and nobody really nailed it. There was maybe one person I said “I heard they overlay of visual effects on top of Vision or something,” but…yeah. It’s the art of making art that no one notices.

Matt Panousis: This the second year in a row we’ve had something like this happen because last year we worked on Watchmen, which was MARZ’s comping out party as a company because we’re only two-and-a-half years old. [Looking Glass’ mask] was also an effect that tricked the majority of the audience watching the show. HBO explained to us that after the mask was first introduced, Google searches for the mask jumped, and it just speaks to how seamless this art has gotten. It a little anticlimactic at times, yeah, but the sign of good VFX is always when it’s invisible.

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io9: It’s interesting that you bring budgeting up Ryan, because that’s something that’s become a big part of the way fans speculate about how these projects will shape up after news about them first breaks. What about WandaVision’s use of VFX do you kind of wish audiences grasped better to understand how money’s allocated to these shows?

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Lon Molnar: This might be a good segue to talk about tracking markers, actually. There are some menial tasks that happen that you just have to do on a shot-by-shot basis. They’re putting tracking markers on all over Paul Bettany’s face because we need to track his head, where we’re putting CG elements. But the problem with that is that we have to remove those tracking markers. So we’re paying labor to remove on a frame-by-frame basis the very markers that are necessary for us to do VFX.

Freer: When we first started our relationship with MCU, we did a test shot for Marvel that the studio really liked. This was before we even knew that we were working on black and white vision.

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io9: What was the test?

Freer: They actually tasked us with remaking a shot from Age of Ultron. They sent us a few CG elements from Industrial Light and Magic for his head which were already established. We took that, broke it down ourselves, resurfaced it, and got it to looking like Paul as much as we could within our pipeline because our pipeline was very different than other companies’. Marvel liked our work, and that turned into us working on the 50 or 60 shots from WandaVision’s first episode, which is a pretty big jump from us not having a working relationship before. Those 50 or 60 shots, the studio liked as well, and that we could get them done in a shorter time frame, and that first episode ended up taking us about three-and-a-half, maybe four months.

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Wanda and Vision hearing a sound.
Image: Disney+/Marvel

io9: How tough was that, especially as post-production kicked off last year?

Freer: The toughest thing people always say with working with Marvel is getting your shots [finalized]. Those are director finals, but there’s the supervisors, the producers. But then on top of the producers, there’s also the executives who ultimately have the last call, and if they don’t like it, then it goes all the way back down to the bottom, and the whole process starts over again.

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Sarah [Eim] and Tara [DeMarco], the VFX supervisors on Marvel’s end who we worked with, both had such fine eyes for Vision and other elements in these scenes. I think there was maybe only one or two shots that that actually got it all the way through with no notes, and that’s pretty rare. Even after doing four hundred shots of Vision, I thought that I had a finely-tuned eye for him, but there was always something, something small here and there that you could do to make it better. And yeah, they were always right.

io9: As relatively-new to the game as MARZ is, what was it like for you working on WandaVision and your other projects during a year when the pandemic really upended a lot of entertainment in significant, unexpected ways?

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Panousis: I don’t want to say that we had incredible foresight, because part of it’s also luck, but I do think that especially with what happened last year, the TV business model was hugely helpful. MARZ has done over 40 television projects. A lot of studios will have one or two kind of key marquee projects, but if those happened to be in film last year, that was super problematic. We didn’t let go of a single person during covid, and grew almost 100% during it by virtue of having this model in place and the fact that a lot of what we were working with was shot before the pandemic.

When we decided to bet on putting all our focus into television projects, that was kind of rare for a VFX studio, but in the past two years, it just seems like TV has exploded at a pace faster than what we kind of anticipated.

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Molnar: I’ve been in the industry for 20 plus years and this has always been the challenge with the hours that we do and the time that we dedicate to these shows. Covid, if anything, showed us that you can do this kind of work when you’re working from home, and you can have dinner with your family whereas, in the past, you were commuting an hour-plus into the city on top of time working.

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io9: We’re coming up on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier’s second episode, and looking forward, there are going to be a lot more of these kinds of live-action series, and not just from Marvel. Having seen WandaVision’s finale, and knowing that series are a big part of studios’ future plans for these franchises, what sorts of things are you more interested to see in the genre?

Freer: Going back to my first point, visual effects are always the greatest when you don’t notice that it’s there. There are a lot of shows now, especially like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier that are just kinda like beat-em-up shows, and that’s to be expected. But I think WandaVision was a breath of fresh air even despite that final episode that did feel very much a part of that traditional superhero movie final act. I’m hoping that more stories can see the power of having visual effects that aren’t necessarily right in your face, but help give these shows a deeper focus and detail to these characters and their emotions.

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I’m excited for more stories that want audiences getting excited about who these characters are as people, and not just because they’re showing off what powers they have and blowing things up. I mean yeah, at the end of the day, we’re a visual effects company, and we’ll be there to blow the things up because it’s fun doing that, but it’s also so much fun to work on the subtle things barely anyone notices.

Panousis: I think if you probably asked us a year ago what’s going to happen on WandaVision, I very highly doubt we’d have said “Well, you know, what we’re going to do is they’re going to actually go decade by decade and they’re thinking outside the box.” We’re on our heels, too. We’re talking about a few new projects with Marvel right now, and we…don’t know what to expect. All we can do is do our research and look at the characters and storylines, and try to get a sense of what Disney might try to connect.

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Molnar: One thing that you can see that’s trending, though, is more stories explore these characters in different time periods like what they did with Sam Jackson and Captain Marvel. It’s interesting to consider how that kind of technology can be affordable on a platform like Disney+. I think for us, our goal is to try to break through that technology to make it affordable to be able to place characters in these entirely new contexts because once you can do that, you have a whole new story to tell.


WandaVision is now streaming on Disney+.

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13 WandaVision Facts Magically Revealed in Its Making-of Documentary

Filming the black and white scenes in WandaVision.

Filming the black and white scenes in WandaVision.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel Studios

Anytime Vision is actual Vision, that’s an effect. In reality, Bettany is painted purple and his finished look is added on later. Since that’s expensive, the producers would always discussed how often he needed to be in that form. The answer was when the story dictated it. So, when Vision is home, he’s comfortable, and he’s his true self. (Side note: in the black and white episodes, the purple didn’t work for effects so they had to paint him blue.)

WandaVision’s Finale Was What You Made of It

Vision and Wanda, together in their home.

Vision and Wanda, together in their home.
Photo: Disney+/Marvel

There were as many ways that Marvel’s WandaVision series finale could have ended as there are different ways to process grief. Each of the season’s nine episodes teased this out—new plot twists that threw audiences for loops all meant to obscure, but not erase, the reality that despite all the strength she’s put on display, Wanda Maximoff was falling apart long before she set foot in Westview.

“The Series Finale” is what WandaVision’s been building toward this entire time, and it certainly brings a finality to this chunk of Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision’s (Paul Bettany) briefly picturesque lives together in New Jersey.

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With all of the hype and mystery revolving around the episode, it was somewhat unsurprising when series director Matt Shakman made a point of letting WandaVision’s fans know that while the fandom’s theorizing about the plot and potential cameos were appreciated, they weren’t things the show was ever necessarily trying to, or ever planning to, touch upon. Some of that speculation was rather warranted considering just how many loose threads and unanswered questions there were about WandaVision’s core plot and sitcom conceit ahead of “The Series Finale” premiering.

After winking and nodding at viewers all season by playing with its style and format in ways that encouraged audiences to think more critically about how we engaged with the show, the finale really does away with the bulk of WandaVision’s more inspired trappings in order to become what’s easily recognizable as something akin to the last 30 minutes or so of almost every Marvel movie. Depending on how you feel about big-ish, ridiculous VFX-heavy MCU fight scenes, this could be either a positive or a negative. But as what’s meant to be one of WandaVision’s more significant “big battles,” it has the effect (perhaps intentionally) of coming across a bit like something from a Disney Channel original movie.

In place of any sort of sitcom-esque intro sequence, this time it’s a hard cut right back to the scene in front of Wanda and Vision’s home, where Agatha had previously identified Wanda as the Scarlet Witch after rummaging around in her mind last week. As Agatha hovers in the air with Wanda’s children ensnared in magical threads, whatever uncertainty Wanda still feels is pushed aside by her instinct to fight the elder witch with a flourish of energy blasts that Agatha gobbles right up like a Sanderson sister. Delightful as both Kathryn Hahn and Elizabeth Olsen have consistently been in each episode, most everything about their character’s standoff falls rather flat in the sense that it’s a lot of simultaneously telling and showing (with an emphasis on the former) that always makes these fights kind of drag. In case it wasn’t abundantly clear already, Agatha specializes in draining the magic of others, which she explains as she plays with a handful of Wanda’s energy and Wanda watches her hand begin to shrivel and grey.

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Agatha threatening Wanda’s twins.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

Because WandaVision’s previous episodes put so much energy into figuring out new ways to depict what being a hero (saving Mr. Hart from choking in “Filmed Before a Live Studio Audience”) and being a villain (see: “Agatha All Along”) could look like, Agatha explaining her evil plan while the episode nods to The Wizard of Oz feels like something of a slight step backward and to the side. Had Agatha gotten down to brass tacks and just walloped Wanda on sight, there’s a chance she might have been able to end things then and there.

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But “The Series Finale” chooses to spotlight Wanda’s growth and path to triumph during the sequence by alluding to a number of her flashier moments from previous movies that, here, feel like a reminder that the character’s meant to live on in future MCU installments. When she smashes Agatha into a house using a car as a sneak attack, it feels like a direct callback to her battle in Captain America: Civil War where she did the same to Tony Stark. The Civil War parallels continue when Cataract—a.k.a. the White Vision built by Director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) and SWORD—arrives on the scene to find a stunned Wanda, who doesn’t immediately understand that this reanimated version of her partner means to murder her.

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While Vision’s dalliance with whiteness in Marvel’s comics left him emotionless and alien to the people who knew him, WandaVision’s Cataract instead reads as explicitly malicious and acting on Hayward’s orders as he attempts to crush Wanda’s skull while musing about how powerful he was told she would be. To be honest, a full-on Cataract character study wasn’t necessary upfront and would have only gotten in the way of the episode’s legitimately fascinating fight that kicks into gear once the Vision Wanda created arrives right on time to save his wife.

Even though the cards were laid out for WandaVision’s characters at this point, it’s interesting to think about how much of what happens in “The Series Finale” might actually be influenced by the Hex, especially when you consider things like the multiple hero landings and amount of narrative observation that takes place. If Agatha was truly about her villainy, one imagines she wouldn’t float around cracking wise about Wanda’s two-Vision-problem, or fly off to Westview’s water tower as if she were a boss moving to the next stage of a battle in a game. Because everything else about Westview appears to still be under the influence of Wanda’s last revision that turned the town into a slice of life from the early aughts, it’s possible that at least some of what’s happening is being shaped by Wanda’s experiences she lived, not as a fan, but as someone who’s actual experiences read as movie clips because, for viewers, that’s what they are.

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Cataract holding Wanda’s head.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

Some day, the public will learn that studios and actors really have no qualms messing with fans’ minds in order to drive interest in different series and films, and on that day people will begin taking those grains of salt we’re always harping on about. Though Paul Bettany’s tease of an upcoming WandaVision cameo was a well-executed troll, the scenes focused on Vision and Cataract’s fight with one another turned out to be some of the series’ most riveting and philosophical.

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Something that often gets lost in the conversation about the Scarlet Witch and Vision is how the nature of identity within the context of twinhood can, at times, be a complicated subject. Beyond Wanda and Pietro and Billy and Timmy, who have all been depicted as more straightforward twins in Marvel’s comics, there’s been a kind of spiritual kinship between characters like Vision and Wonder Man, and more recently Vision’s synthezoid wife Virginia whose brain patterns were modeled after Wanda’s in the comics. In Marvel’s books, that particular kind of dynamic has almost always led to turmoil and strife, and it’s interesting to see WandaVision incorporate that energy into a fight sequence that follows the two humanoid machines as they beat one another up across town.

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One of the many questions pressing questions looming over the Disney+ series before “Previously On,” was just how much of the Westview anomaly the rest of the world was aware of—especially after Wanda expanded the Hex significantly in order to save Vision’s life in “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!” “Previously On” casually tried to gloss over this outside the Hex where SWORD director Hayward triumphantly explained his villainous plan all along to an audience of operatives, who all seem cool with harboring a secret, sentient weapon of mass destruction who explicitly told them to leave his corpse the hell alone.

True to Hayward’s (and the episode’s) general on-the-nose-ness, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) defiantly tells the director that he’ll never get with his dastardly plan, and in one of WandaVision’s truly uninspired moments, Hayward makes a pun about Woo’s lack of “vision” that, if we’re being honest, was kind of beneath the story that was being told. WandaVision’s time outside the Hex has never been especially fascinating, save for moments following Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who’s woefully underutilized in the finale, but also present enough to make the episode’s missteps quite apparent. While Jimmy rushes to make a secret phone call to Quantico meant to expose Hayward’s treachery, Monica bides her time in Agatha’s house under Pietro/Fietro’s (Evan Peters) watch. Nothing much comes from their interaction other than the revelation that the man everyone was led to believe was Wanda’s brother was actually Agatha/Agnes’ off-screen “husband,” Ralph, of the Bohner family.

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Reactions to Ralph Bohner are likely to be split among fans because of what all Evan Peters’ presence in WandaVision could have (and honestly, still might) mean about the MCU’s future. Though the nods to the existence of Fox’s X-Men franchise and a recontextualized origin story for the Maximoff twins very strongest suggested that the Marvel series might be an entry point for the MCU’s take on mutants, Peters’ casting was also very obviously meant to be a big joke touching on Disney and 20th Century Fox’s merger and the nature of how sitcoms have worked in the past. That doesn’t mean that there’s no possibility for Wanda to become a part of whatever future X-Men projects Marvel greenlights, but it does mean that some people worked themselves into a frenzy about Magneto and Reed Richards showing up because they couldn’t accept that sometimes jokes are really just jokes.

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Monica discovering Ralph’s real name.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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The finale does toss a rather significant bone of lore fans’ way, however, as Wanda chases after Agatha into the town square, and Ms. Harkness reveals that at some point after Agents of SHIELD and Runaways, but before the beginning of WandaVision, she somehow managed to get her hands on the Darkhold. For those unfamiliar, the Darkhold (which has a number of different names and forms) is a magical tome forged from energies native to the Darkforce Dimension where Doctor Strange’s best bud Dormammu dwells. After previously being framed as a kind of MacGuffin unto itself, Agatha brings Darkhold to WandaVision as a source of information more for the audience and Wanda’s benefit than anything else. While she doesn’t explain that the book’s capable of teaching its owner arcane secrets, she does reveal that it contains a chapter dedicated to the Scarlet Witch, a mythic being whose power surpasses that of the Sorcerer Supreme.

If Stephen Strange’s (Benedict Cumberbatch) ears were burning somewhere out there in the MCU, we won’t know until he shows up and says so in next year’s Multiverse of Madness. The man makes nary an appearance here, even though you’d think that the new incarnation of a magical goddess would set off some alerts in the Sanctum Sanctorum. If there were any such alarms, Strange apparently didn’t hear them in the same way that Wanda didn’t, or more accurately wouldn’t, hear anything Agatha said, choosing instead to insist that she couldn’t be a witch.

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Because denying the obvious has been Wanda’s thing as of late, her reluctance to hear Agatha makes a kind of sense. It also makes Dottie’s (Emma Caulfield Ford) return to the series that much more difficult to watch when Agatha breaks the spell over her in order to show the Avenger the truth. Free of Wanda’s influence, Dottie’s (whose name is actually Sarah) sitcom frostiness gives way to panic and concern for her young daughter who’s been trapped in her room in moments where she’s not allowed to become part of “the show.” As Agatha wakes up more of Westview’s residents, you begin to get a better picture of the very real agony and torture Wanda was putting them through by forcing them to experience her traumatic nightmares in times when she put them to “sleep.”

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When the “Yo-Magic” commercial first premiered earlier in the season, one of the popular theories hypothesized that the hidden message in the ad was actually about Wanda draining the life force out of the people trapped within the Hex. While that theory wasn’t entirely accurate, it wasn’t wholly off the money either. As Mrs. Hart (Deborah Jo Rupp) begs Wanda to simply let them all die, it’s a legitimately chilling moment of despair for everyone present because it places the blame squarely on Wanda for harming civilians.

Every massive feat of magic that Wanda pulls off this episode represents an opportunity for Agatha to siphon some of it off in a way that bears an uncanny resemblance to some of X-Men: Dark Phoenix’s flashier moments. When Wanda briefly begins to lift the Hex, it gives the citizens a chance to escape, but it also causes Vision, Tommy, and Billy to begin breaking off into chunks—which seriously evokes Joe Quesada’s House of M #1 variant cover. It’s from this point on that WandaVision kicks the comic book movie factor up in ways that sometimes work, and sometimes don’t.

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As Agatha, Cataract, and Hayward’s SWORD goons all converge on the family, the four of them break into a set of hero poses that are going for The Incredibles, but end up giving you more of ABC’s No Ordinary Family (a show the network seldom mentions these days). After Vision flies off to fight Cataract in a library, and Wanda follows Agatha into the sky, Billy and Tommy are left on the ground to handle SWORD, and the boys make short work of disarming the adults using their powers together. “The Series Finale” truly misses the mark in an uncharacteristic way, however; once Hayward steps out of his vehicle prepared to gun down the twins himself, and Monica—who just happens to show up—jumps in front of the boys to intercept the bullets.

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Wanda and Vision’s family ready for action.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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It’s very common to see Black comic book characters imbued with powers and put in situations that very hamfistedly attempt to make a comment on or draw inspiration from the experiences of actual Black people. Luke Cage’s bulletproof skin is both a kind of protection from harm and a constant reminder of the racist abuses of the carceral system which lead to the experimentation that made him Power Man in the first place. The Black Panther is a rather explicit embodiment of Black excellence meant to be looked up to, but the character also embodied an idea of Black perfection that, in some ways, was just as stifling as the period Sam Wilson was known as the gangster “Snap” Wilson.

By first having Monica’s (one of the show’s sole Black characters) heroic origins rooted in her attempting to help and stop Wanda (someone who repeatedly harmed her) and then demonstrating a new facet of her power set by having her take a bunch of bullets fired by her former boss for Wanda’s children, the story ultimately placed Monica into a discomfiting box. There is a very specific power and larger meaning behind images of Black bodies being shot in general that, unfortunately, the finale tries and fails to do anything with as it focuses on how Monica’s body drains the projectiles of their kinetic energy as they phase through her. To make things worse, Billy’s able to catch one of the bullets by his damn self as the sequence comes to a close, and while WandaVision tries to play the moment for laughs, there’s…nothing particularly funny about it!

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“The Series Finale” is far stronger elsewhere, when Vision and Cataract are busy duking it out with one another in the local library, to gorgeous effect. Though the synthezoids’ brutal dance of fists and phasing is a visual delight, it’s how Vision brings the fight to an end with reason that’s truly memorable. Though Vision’s “soul” perished along with the Mind Stone, Vision reasons all of Cataract’s memories must be located someone within his onboard storage, and he convinces his duplicate that those memories are both what links them together and what separates them. In any other show, a robot convincing himself to stop fighting by working their way together through the ideas behind the ship of Theseus thought experiment would be ridiculous, but here it works completely as the sort of thing that would give both Vision and Cataract reason to pause.

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After Cataract realizes the truth of what Vision’s telling him, he simply peaces right out of Westview similar to the way the Hulk dipped after Age of Ultron to everyone’s confusion. Here, though, because there are two of the synthezoids running around, no one stops to consider Cataract’s departure, and Wanda takes Agatha by surprise, sneaking up behind her and hitting her with a mind hex similar to what she got Tony with in Strucker’s laboratory (the callbacks, you see, they are plentiful).

Vision and Cataract bonding.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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Rather than bring us back to a new nightmare for Agatha, Wanda’s hex brings us back to Salem on the night of Agatha’s would-be burning at the stake, and for the briefest of moments, it feels like Wanda’s about to full-on give Agatha a dose of her own chaotic medicine. Instead, Wanda’s illusion bounces back on her and the witches from Agatha’s past all turn on Wanda, ultimately binding her to the stake. Agatha’s reasoning, that’s only but so convincing, is that while Wanda’s Scarlet Witch powers are formidable, her lack of formal training makes her skill at wielding it rather paltry, and Agatha promises that if Wanda just hands over the force living within her that Agatha will give her and her family what they want.

From there, the boss battle changes locations once more as the women take back to the skies and Wanda lobs hex bolts at Agatha that only seem to make her stronger. The way Wanda’s body withers as she uses her powers mirrors the way she ages in James Robinson’s Scarlet Witch series, and here it’s revealed to all be part of Wanda’s larger plan to lull Agatha into a false sense of security.

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By the time that Wanda’s hovering in the air, seemingly empty of magic after more than a few of her attacks having missed and smashed into the Hex’s walls, Agatha had drained enough of her chaos magic to, in theory, do something wild with it. When she tries, though, she finds that her powers no longer function. Those “misses” were Wanda having purposefully drawn the same runes she’s seen in Agatha’s basement on the Hex. One could argue that Wanda’s plan was bound to work even though she had little knowledge about the runes beyond their shape because of her being the Scarlet Witch, but it’s just as interesting to see Wanda and Agatha’s entire ordeal as the very first lessons in magic that Wanda ever learned from her comics mentor.

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The moment the outline of Wanda’s Scarlet Witch headdress begins to form around her face, “The Series Finale” begins speaking in Dark Phoenix’s visual language once more. Wanda siphons the chaos magic back out of Agatha and embraces the witch she was destined to become. Though these Dark Phoenix parallels might have derailed the show if they went on long enough, the story brings them to a much-needed end with Wanda creating a new costume for herself and Agnes very genuinely warning Wanda that she doesn’t know what she’s done by becoming the Scarlet Witch—even going so far as to tell her she’s destined to destroy the world. To Wanda, it’s all something of a moot point as she hexes Agatha one last time to “trap” her in her Agnes guise in Westview where Wanda can always find her, and you can clearly see the general shape of the character Wanda might be when she turns up next in Marvel’s movies.

Wanda a sthe Scarlet Witch
Gif: Disney+/Marvel

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What’s somewhat off about the way “The Series Finale” comes to an end is the way that everyone within Westview—meaning Wanda, her family, and Monica—all sort of just go with the strangeness of the day. Perhaps because they’re all outgrowths of Wanda herself, Vision and the boys don’t at all question what the deal is with Wanda’s new getup or why they all had to fight Auntie Agnes. As the Hex begins to come down, Wanda and Vision bring their sons home to put them to bed and let them know how intensely proud of them they are. What little hope there was for Billy and Tommy somehow surviving outside of the Hex is dashed when Wanda thanks the boys for choosing to be their mother, and you can feel her pain when the camera cuts to a shot of the deteriorating Hex in the distance. Both Vision and Wanda know that their lives together will come to an end once the Hex is fully gone, and for one of the first times in the series, the pair are able to joke and be honest about how unusual their lives have been.

“The Series Finale” comes very close to topping the “What is grief” line with Wanda’s revelation that this Vision isn’t just a projection of her love, but an echo of the Mind Stone that lives within her, and that’s all Vision needs to know to hope that, in all of his life’s madness, there’s still potential for him to return in a new form. In a small, touching way, Vision’s wondering what he might return as next feels like WandaVision’s way of showing that, for all the drama and pain that Wanda’s brought into his life, he loves her that much more for it, and that idea sticks with her as she leaves her plot of land, pulls up her hood, and semi-shamefully walks back to the town center. There’s a stiffness to Wanda and Monica’s conversation as our “hero” apologizes for what she’s done, promises that she’ll learn more about magic, and changes back into her Scarlet Witch costume to fly out of town as police sirens press in from the distance.

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When you take a moment to recall that WandaVision was always meant to be a story about Wanda confronting and getting to the bottom of her grief, the series’ first ending makes sense even though there’s plenty about it that might disappoint some viewers. Wanda came, she cried, learned a bit of magic, and peaced the hell out. But along the way, WandaVision did a number of wondrous things that evolved its central cast into new, fascinating versions of themselves, some of whom will be very interesting to see in the futures heavily teased in the finale’s mid and post-credits sequences.

With Hayward in cuffs and Jimmy having been the agent responsible for exposing his treachery, he and Monica are pleased as hell as the rest of the FBI swarms on the location to begin investigating the anomaly. When an agent pulls Monica aside into a nearby theater, the woman revealing herself to be a Skrull doesn’t faze Monica at all. However, the Skrull’s mention of being sent by an old friend of Maria Rambeau’s gives the woman pause, as does the Skrull’s offer to become part of a new mission up in space where SWORD won’t let her travel anymore. While this thread’s sure to be picked up in Captain Marvel 2, WandaVision doesn’t truly come to an end until after another brief scene set in the mountains where we find Wanda sitting alone on the steps of a simple cabin.

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Wanda reading from the Darkhold.
Gif: Disney+/Marvel

Witchy as chilling alone in forest cottages is, things take a proper turn when Wanda wanders into her home to grab a kettle off the stove, and the camera pushes in to reveal that Wanda isn’t exactly alone. While one “Wanda” may simply be a projection meant to fool anyone wandering through the area—presumably, Wundagore Mountain—the Wanda in the back of the house is busy floating in the air atop an enchantment circle while reading the Darkhold with keen interest. Even more surprising is the way Wanda snaps to attention when she hears her children’s voices shouting for help in her mind before the scene cuts to black as a reminder that the Scarlet Witch will be back sooner than later.

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“The Series Finale” was neither WandaVision’s strongest episode nor its weakest, but it was very much something that lent itself to multiple interpretations and takeaways depending on what it is you came into the show expecting from it. At any given point in time, it was possible to invest one’s energies into the actual text WandaVision was presenting or into the discourse around the show, both of which could be worthwhile efforts within reason, but hype and reason have seldom gone hand in hand.

As the first of Marvel’s new episodic stories that are meant to irreversibly change the arc of the larger MCU, WandaVision set the bar incredibly high for the shows that’ll follow it. But even as its own story that was always meant to be a deep exploration of an underserved character, WandaVision was a bona fide knockout.

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WandaVision Became a Nightmarish Web of Cathartic Reruns

Wanda recalling the first time she met Vision.

Wanda recalling the first time she met Vision.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

WandaVision’s first season transformed Marvel’s Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen). She’s been a newlywed, a mother, and something far more fascinating and complex than all of her other new identities combined. It’s all been in service of its larger overarching story about the Avengers’ least understood hero who will presumably come to be known as the Scarlet Witch.

“Previously On,” WandaVision’s eighth chapter (and the season’s penultimate) could be considered the series’ first attempt at riffing on the kind of sitcom clip-show episodes that look back at events from throughout the season, something meant to hammer home where the show’s characters began versus where they are now. But rather than just zeroing in on familiar moments the Disney+ series previously explored in Westview’s show-within-a-show, the story lets the glamor fall in order to reveal multiple truths about what really went down with Wanda in between the time that she made Thanos blink on the battlefield and when she decided to make New Jersey home.

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The number of clips from previous Marvel movies featuring Wanda spotlighted in the general recap before “Previously On” begins rolling is the first hint that the episode’s going to be a tad bit different. We pick up more or less right where “Breaking the Fourth Wall” left us last week, in a thematic sense. Before bringing us back to Wanda, who most recently discovered the truth of Agatha’s identity (Kathryn Hahn), the episode actually jumps back further into the past, to a pivotal moment in Agnes’ own origin story.

Long before she became Wanda’s newest frenemy, Agatha spent a significant amount of her life in 17th century Salem, Massachusetts (lol), experiencing a very specific kind of ostracization that Wanda would one day come to suffer for herself. The story doesn’t explain exactly what Agatha did to incur the wrath of the coven of witches led by her mother Evanora (Kate Forbes), but it’s easy enough to glean the gist of it from the way the women all handle her trial.

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Agatha turning on her fellow witches.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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Though Agatha pleads with her mother and the coven to forgive her for her actions, and begs them to help her understand her powers, the other women are barely fazed by her protests. It makes you feel as if Agatha was well-known for her theatrical outbursts even then. Manipulation or not, Agatha’s cries suggest that whatever the witch did wasn’t something the others were unfamiliar with, but rather something they understood all too well, which is what drove them to come together to seemingly destroy her.

When Evanora and Agatha lock eyes as the elder witch begins chanting to aid in her daughter’s destruction, it clearly pains both of them that things have gotten to that point, and Agatha screams in agony as the other witches blast her with beams of mystical energy. While the ritual appears to be working for a brief time, Agatha’s demeanor begins to shift as the witches’ blue-hued energies flow through her, prompting her own signature purple magic to spring forth and turn the women’s power against them.

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Even though it’s unclear whether Agatha truly set out to become a malicious person, the scene of her hexing at the stake makes it appear as if her own natural gifts lend themselves to the draining of others’ magical emanations, something you see as the other witches’ spells also turn purple, and the life force begins to drain from their bodies. The whole of this scene establishes an entirely different community of magic users distinct from the powers and cultures we’ve previously seen in the MCU (Doctor Strange, Runaways, and Helstrom). Significant as that fact is on its own, “Previously On” goes the extra mile of conveying that this branch of the magical tree has a narrative centrality and mythos all its own.

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You get the first glimpse of that as Evanora takes it upon herself to kill her daughter by hitting her with everything she’s got. Whether it’s because she was the leader of the coven or because her powers simply eclipsed the others’ isn’t clear, but as Evanora hexes Agnes, a peculiar construct vaguely resembling a horned headdress forms around her head. Though Evanora’s energy crown vaguely resembles the protrusions on Game of Thrones’ Night King, it also looks a lot like the diadem that Scarlet Witch has traditionally worn in Marvel’s comics (the one Wanda actually conjured up for herself as a comics-inspired costume in “All-New Halloween Spooktacular!”). Whatever the significance of the thing emanating from Evanora’s head is, its presence isn’t enough to stop Agatha, who just moments before swore that she could learn to be good, something her mother believed to be a lie.

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Evanora trying to stop her daughter.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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As villainous origins go “I killed my mother and all of her little friends for trying to kill me for using my taboo powers” is somewhat run-of-the-mill, but it adds an interesting element to the way WandaVision’s framed Agatha/Agnes as a manipulator whose very first sin was being ambitious. In another world where Evanora’s coven sought to understand Agatha’s magic better rather than snuff it out, there’s a chance that she could have gone on to become the kind of person who felt some sort of moral qualms about framing other witches for terrorism. But because cycles of abuse beget more cycles of abuse, present-day Agatha is all too ready to destroy Wanda after she brings her out of her expository spell and begins to have a bit more fun with her.

Having now begun to understand that, despite all her own deep-seated trauma, she truly isn’t the sole source of the trouble in Westview, Wanda drops any pretense of just being another American homemaker (and her put-on accent) as she demands to know what Agatha’s done with Billy and Tommy. Formidable as Wanda’s powers are, Agatha gives her a crash course in how much she still doesn’t know about what she’s capable of, and how magic works as a whole, after Wanda discovers that she’s unable to attack Agatha with her signature red blasts. It’s amusing to Agatha that Wanda somehow has no knowledge of how a witch’s runes can give them a distinct advantage over other magic users foolish enough to wander into their domains. As Agatha explains all this, the camera trains its focus on two of Agatha’s symbols, one of which sort of looks like Digimon’s crest of knowledge, while the other resembles an upper-case “M.”

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Much as “Agatha All Along” clued everyone into Agatha’s role in messing with Wanda’s mind, she provides some context for a number of the show’s false commercials that have all been dancing around the secret truth, much like witches around a maypole repurposed as a broadcast tower in the pale moonlight. Every bit of magic—because that’s truly what the red-tinted energy Wanda wields is—that’s gone into reshaping Westview and keeping the town “running” is something Agatha can wrap her mind around conceptually. She actually goes on to recreate many of the spells on a smaller scale that Wanda’s managed to cast over the entire town. Mind control, illusions, and transmutation are all things witches can do after spending years honing their craft, and it’s likely that having an entire coven of other magic users working together makes those kinds of spells more manageable.

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Agatha doing her best Mary Sanderson.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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What Agatha doesn’t quite understand, though, is how Wanda, a Sokovian refugee with no formal training, went from being someone who could move blocks with her mind and give people short-lived nightmares, to being able to pull off multiple feats of large-scale, persistent magic that hums along in the background without her really having to work all that hard.

To Agatha, someone who’s spent centuries fighting tooth and nail to become the kind of witch her coven tried to keep her from being, Wanda embodies a kind of unearned privilege that she’s more than willing to relieve her of. It’s tough to gauge how well Wanda’s processing everything Agatha reveals to her, and to be fair, it is all quite wild even considering the other things Wanda (and viewers!) have witnessed in the MCU. When she again tells Agatha that she doesn’t know how Westview came to be warped, the witch responds by slapping Wanda around the basement with a ferocity that would likely kill a person if Agatha weren’t trying to keep them alive.

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What’s interesting about the entire interaction is how Agatha points out that, initially, her plan was to let Wanda do her thing in Westview because even though Agatha’s been pulling strings in the background, she stands by her assertion that it all began with Wanda. Agatha explains how she resigned herself to being a supporting character in Wanda’s charade, believing that eventually, Wanda would either slip up or reinvent herself into a person more willing to share the source of their strength. Ultimately, Wanda’s self-doubt is what made it possible for Agatha to hide in plain sight even though there were signs of something being amiss.

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Tight-lipped as Wanda is, Agatha still has a few tricks up her sleeve, and she resolves that it’s high time she kicked things up a notch to get the answers she’s been seeking. With a strand of Wanda’s hair (more on that later) and an incantation, Agatha conjures up a different sort portal into the depths of Wanda’s mind that both women step into as “Previously On” gets into the meat of its story by revisiting Wanda’s past.

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Wanda recalling a fond memory that Agatha doesn’t care for.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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There have been bits and pieces of information about Wanda’s family sprinkled throughout films like Age of Ultron that gave you just enough detail to understand how Wanda first came to be in league with Hydra. Though we knew that there was a point when Wanda blamed Tony Stark for her parents’ murders, there’d never been all that much exploration of her and Pietro’s childhood beyond the anger that originally brought her to blows with the Avengers.

Wanda’s at a loss for words when Agatha’s spell brings them back to a happier moment from her past before the Avengers, Ultron, and Vision, when Wanda’s family was still whole and surviving through the ongoing conflict that was already tearing Sokovia apart. In a devastating twist on WandaVision’s use of television, Wanda quickly realizes that the memory Agatha’s conjured isn’t just an illusion that will play out for them to watch, it’s something Wanda has to participate in. After transforming into a younger version of herself (portrayed by Michaela Russell) she recalls the very night she and Pietro (Gabriel Gurevich) became orphans.

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Leading up to WandaVision’s premiere, there was much speculation around how the show would end up explaining the emotional significance of its sitcoms and how they played into Wanda’s actual identity. One of the prevailing theories was that television was a crucial part of Wanda’s childhood, and while that’s correct, it’s a bit more than “Wanda grew up learning English from American reruns.” When Wanda’s father Olek (The Blacklist’s Daniyar) returns home with a case of DVDs of classic American sitcoms, Wanda’s mother Iryna (Ilana Kohanchi) is clearly dispirited that her husband wasn’t able to sell her merchandise, but she understands how difficult it is given the literal war in the streets. But at the same time, there’s a powerful love flowing through the Maximoff household. They’re a family who had to rely on one another at a time when their world was falling apart, and one of the ways they found comfort with one another was by sitting down in front of the television to escape from the horrors of their reality, if only for a half-hour at a time.

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The Maximoffs watching Dick Van Dyke.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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Were Agatha watching WandaVision here in the real world, she’d likely comment on how markedly more convincing all of the actors’ Sokovian accents are compared to Elizabeth Olsen’s—always on the more questionable side of things—but she’s much, much more focused on paying attention to the rest of the mental scene, as it’s how Wanda reacts to her parents’ oncoming deaths that stand out to the witch. The bomb that changes Wanda and Pietro’s lives comes swift and without warning, and leaves the twins stunned and shrouded in the dark ruins of what used to be their home. True to previous accounts of that night, the twins are stuck in the middle of the conflict with an armed, but undetonated Stark missile blinking before them. Even though Wanda’s parents were dead at that point, they were still with her in the emotional sense and present in her mind, because the only thing that survived the explosion other than the kids was their television that somehow managed to remain powered and playing The Dick Van Dyke Show.

The MCU’s previous stories went out of their way to frame Wanda and Pietro as two of the first “enhanced” beings on the planet whose powers, like Captain Marvel’s, came from exposure to an Infinity Stone. The framing worked to establish the Maximoffs as non-mutants on screen at a time when Marvel’s comics were distancing the characters from the X-Men, presumably because the film rights were then split between Disney and Fox (which has now changed). What Wanda recalls and Agatha realizes, though, is that there was magic in Wanda long before she ever crossed paths with Hydra. The reason she and Pietro weren’t murdered by the active missile was actually her instinctively weaving a probability hex that kept the weapon from detonating. In addition to nodding to the Scarlet Witch’s original probability power set from the comics, this detail gives Agatha reason to further question the how of it all.

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People with magical potential, it seems, aren’t exactly uncommon per se, but the fact that Wanda’s abilities didn’t fade in absence of nurturing is what makes her distinct. After seeing Kathryn Hahn chew up the scenery first as a busybody neighbor and then as a deliciously unhinged villain, the Agatha she brings to this episode is equal parts maniacal and genuinely curious about what makes Wanda tick. Even though it’s more than likely that the two witches will end up battling, you can also see significant traces of the adversarial friendship that Wanda and Agatha have in the comics in the way that Agatha’s torture here is also a very intense, almost therapeutic, experience for Wanda. Some of that therapy, like when Agatha brings her back to the Sokovian facility where Strucker experimented on her with Loki’s staff, is traumatic in and of itself, as it’s rooted in Wanda’s pain.

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But out of that pain comes one of the biggest surprises “Previously On” has when the episode shows you how Strucker’s experiments had little to do with anything the Nazis themselves anticipated. When Wanda’s put into a room with the staff, it reacts to her without prompting, and the blue jewel containing the hidden Mind Stone within flies over to her, opening up as if it wants to speak with her. The casing explodes, the blinding flash of light is difficult for Wanda to look at, but in the glow, she briefly witnesses a figure that bears a striking resemblance to some of the Scarlet Witch’s more classic comics guises. Within the context of the episode itself, it comes across like Wanda witnessing what the future has in store for her. Also interesting to note is that, while this all apparently happens on camera within the facility, Wanda’s knack for messing with televisions goes deeper than WandaVision’s let on, and the footage of her vision is erased from Hydra’s recording.

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Wanda seeing a vision of the Scarlet Witch.
Screenshot: Disney+/Marvel

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While Agatha’s usually gagging and rolling her eyes in the background in moments when the story takes on a cathartic energy, the show lets you know that both women are getting something more than they’re saying aloud from the time they’re spending together—it’ll be interesting to see what becomes of their bond going forward. Olsen delivers one of her strongest performances as Wanda yet when Agatha brings her to the Avengers compound some time after Ultron and her feelings about the Avengers were still largely undecided. Still drowning in grief over having witnessed Pietro’s death in Sokovia, Wanda throws herself into an episode of Malcolm in the Middle, a callback to the series’ ‘00-focused episode. She barely reacts when Vision (Paul Bettany) enters her room unannounced, and while there have been mentions of the days when Vision didn’t understand that it’s impolite to just come into people’s spaces without being welcomed, here, he’s obviously taken the admonishment to heart (though still working on it).

What seems to be very well established, though, is how drawn to Wanda he is, perhaps because of how the Mind Stone once recognized something distinct about her. At that point in time, neither Wanda nor Vision was really what one would describe as “good with people” for different, valid reasons, but in their differences, the two were able to cultivate that first spark of mutual affinity into something meaningful. When Wanda explains that the Avengers compound was the first home she shared with Vision, she’s being quite literal, but she’s also talking about the emotional home and shelter that she was able to find in him, and likely the same that he was able to find in her back when he was still mostly clueless about how humans are.

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If Wanda first began to build out a “home” in her mind as Vision was helping her process her grief, it’s worth considering whether small details like Wanda’s hair color and her disappearing accent were her personal ways of trying to make that new home real by divorcing herself from her past. In a similar way to how Black Widow refused to let go of the blonde she was rocking when Thanos defeated the Avengers in Infinity War, Wanda’s whole rejection of markers of her past could have been signs of her coping with, but not fully processing, the emotions that have come to the surface in WandaVision.

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None of this, however, is enough to satisfy Agatha who, to be fair, has likely seen all sorts of things that Wanda can scarcely imagine, and because the trip down memory lane reveals no answers, she presses even more closely to the recent memories in Wanda’s brain. Previously, WandaVision made the strong case for why SWORD director Hayward (Josh Stamberg) was justified in his fear of Wanda by having him show his colleagues footage of the day she broke into their headquarters and absconded with Vision’s corpse. However, this episode makes clear that while everyone’s been preoccupied with Wanda’s magical deepfakes, Hayward was busy producing technological falsehoods of his own specifically designed to make everyone believe Wanda was a threat.

In truth, the day Wanda came to SWORD headquarters, she politely blew the doors open after being told that she could enter to speak with someone about having Vision’s body buried. It’s also true that after seeing Vision’s body being dismembered by SWORD techs, Wanda shocked everyone by breaking into the examination room with her powers and floating down to touch Vision’s face. What was not true, however, was Hayward’s elaborate story about Wanda stealing her depowered build-a-husband before flying off on her version of a broomstick for New Jersey.

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Wanda finally recalls that after realizing Vision was truly dead, she returned to her car to find a document meant for her that conveys one of Vision’s last wishes for the both of them. No reason is given as to why Vision decided to buy a plot of land in Westview for him and Wanda to start a new life, but one imagines that it has something to do with the synthezoid being a sentimental dork who got a kick out of a “W” and “V” appearing together in a small town. As Wanda drives through Westview for the first time, you see glimpses of residents who go on to become the show-within-a-show’s characters, and something “Fietro” said earlier in the season touched back on.

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Normal as everyone’s life in Westview was, “Previously On” shows them all as being somewhat listless. They can easily be read as just kind of going through the daily motion of things, and you can see how Wanda internalized these brief glimpses of the civilians and used them as a basis for the characters and plot lines she created within the Hex. When Wanda arrives at her and Vision’s piece of land, though, what little charm there is to the scene turns into a moment of devastation mirroring Wanda’s breakdown in Age of Ultron when she felt Pietro’s life slip away.

Rather than destroying things the way she did in Sokovia, though, Wanda begins creating an entire house with her powers, and while the previous episode made it seem that Agatha was in control of things, here we see that while Wanda’s not wholly in the driver’s seat, she is truly the engine powering all of this. What’s alarming about this scene is that, even then Wanda did not likely know how and what she was doing, and the experience appears incredibly taxing and out of control.

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Wanda’s chaos magic conjuring a simulation of Vision.
Gif: Disney+/Marvel

Moments after the house forms, the Hex explodes out of Wanda, rewriting the town, but also revealing where the Vision we’ve been seeing this whole time came from. At the same time Wanda’s turning Westview into something it’s not, she’s weaving a new Vision out of pure energy in a sequence teased in some of WandaVision’s commercials (just without the colorful effects). When it’s all said and done, there are no questions asked, and Wanda settles right into the illusion that we now know Agatha was tweaking from the shadows.

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Back in the present, though, Agatha’s quite out in the open and certainly perturbed at the fact that she’s gotten what she wanted, albeit in a roundabout way, but with an answer she’s none too pleased about. We get our first look at Agatha in her full, ridiculously Hocus Pocus witch regalia as Wanda bursts out onto the street in Westview to find her floating in the air, threatening to murder Billy and Tommy. In a rare moment of Agatha agreeing with the mortals, she tells Wanda that she is quite the danger, though not for any reason that most people know. Wanda’s ability to wield magic in ways that defy the laws of the natural and metaphysical worlds might have been helped along by her exposure to the Mind Stone, but the true source of Wanda’s power lies in the fact that she’s not just a witch, but rather the Scarlet Witch, a mythic being with the unique ability to perform chaos magic.

Here, chaos magic seems to mean magic of pure creation that other practitioners could never do. The Scarlet Witch, Agatha explains, was supposed to be a myth, and yet there she is chilling in the suburbs doing dead-on impressions of Modern Family’s Julie Bowen. Between Evanora sporting some sort of magical headgear, and Wanda’s apparently prophetic vision of the Scarlet Witch, one can see why Agatha, who’s worked hard for her power, is somewhat jealous of and angry at Wanda, and how the next episode’s almost certain to feature a massive battle of the hexes.

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The new Vision coming online.
Gif: Disney+/Marvel

But the real tease for the conflict that’s to come doesn’t show up until the episode’s post-credits scene that clues you in to what chicanery Hayward and SWORD have been up to. Though WandaVision could have gotten away with the specter of “dead” Vision being its nod to Vision’s time spent being white and emotionless in the comics, the teaser introduces us to Vision’s reanimated corpse that’s been brought online using residual magic from the drone Wanda dragged out of Hex.

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When this White Vision shows up next week, he’ll be powered by the very same magic that Wanda first manifested out of a desire to be reunited with him. Their next meeting, though, is likely to end with more than a few of them bearing deep wounds—both physical and emotional—that they may never recover from.

WandaVision’s season one finale debuts next Friday on Disney+.

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Breaking Down Star Wars: The High Republic—Old Jedi, New Tech, and Fascinating Connections

A new age of Star Wars has begun.

A new age of Star Wars has begun.
Image: Joseph Meehan/Del Rey

The first wave of Star Wars: The High Republic stories is upon us, painting the broad strokes of what we can expect to see in this era, centuries before the Skywalker saga. After checking in with the new books and comics that hit shelves last week, we’re already getting a picture of some intriguing connections—and a taste of what to expect from the Jedi’s heights.

Illustration for article titled Breaking Down iStar Wars: The High Republic/i—Old Jedi, New Tech, and Fascinating Connections

Luminous Beings Are We…


One thing very clear across the first series of High Republic stories—the launch of Marvel’s ongoing comic series, A Test of Courage, and primary adult novel Light of the Jedi—is that the Jedi’s peak here is not necessarily about their power over the Force. In fact, it’s made incredibly clear that even the most luminous of the Jedi we meet across this story still feel like they barely know anything about using the force.

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Elzar Mann, one of the supporting Jedi in Light, is seen as something of a provocateur for his approach to experimenting with ways the Force can be used. So much so that his ascension to the rank of Master is being held back by his inability to just stick to the doctrine the Jedi already know. But even though they know relatively little about how to use and manipulate the Force, the Jedi of the High Republic’s apex are represented instead by the diversity of thought around how each of these individual characters interact with and interpret the Force on a personal level.

There is no one catch-all way these stories describe sensing or manipulating the Force—it’s a choral song, a tapestry, a touch of rain in the clouds. And the biggest moments when a Jedi wields the Force are not necessarily in combative terms. They do engage in conflict across these stories, but the grandest applications of the Force are moments of intense connection, with Jedi coming together to share their abilities in a single, powerful act.

Most of this is through one particular Jedi, Avar Kriss, who has a relatively unique ability akin to Force Meld in the New Jedi Order novels or Bastila Shan’s Battle Meditation in Knights of the Old Republic. In an attempt to stop hyperspace debris from destroying the agricultural worlds of the Hetzal system, Avar reaches out in the Force across the galaxy to connect Jedi in the sole act of pushing an explosive piece of debris out of a collision trajectory with Hetzal’s star. It’s an extreme exertion on both herself and the Jedi who become linked to her—several die in the process, overwhelmed by sheer exertion. But it’s also basically a Force push on a cosmic scale, not some ginormous super attack or epic battle moment, presented as an incredibly desperate act of rescue.

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Illustration for article titled Breaking Down iStar Wars: The High Republic/i—Old Jedi, New Tech, and Fascinating Connections

Image: Ario Anindito, Mark Morales, and Annalisa Leoni/Marvel Comics

This more relaxed approach to the Jedi of the High Republic is equally reflected in their personalities. While all cut from similar cloths—in that they’re good people trying to do the best they can for those around them—what makes the Jedi in these stories stand out in comparison to ones we saw in the Skywalker Saga is in their warmth and freeness with each other. Keeve Trennis in Marvel’s The High Republic is a teen hothead and isn’t exactly admonished for that as she finds herself on the path to Knighthood. Vernestra Rwoh in A Test of Courage uses a modified lightsaber that can also be used as a lightwhip—technology seen in the Jedi’s past as linked to the old Sith, but she is willing to use and experiment with it to push back against that view of it.

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In Light, we meet a whole bunch of Jedi with similarly freewheeling attitudes, but the aforementioned Elzar and Avar once again are interesting in this regard; extremely close friends from a young age, it’s never explicitly acknowledged but heavily implied that they previously had a romantic relationship with one another, displaying a warmth and affection even in the present that would make the Jedi Council of the prequels blush with indignation. And yet, while it’s not entirely presented out in the open, their love for each other—romantically or platonically—is never presented as a taboo. It wasn’t just a more civilized age when it comes to things like lightsaber design or Force use, it seems.

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The Jedi’s Long History, and Its Dark Future

In tandem with all of that is our own knowledge that this “High” Republic won’t last, an undercurrent that lingers throughout each of these stories in subtle ways, even as conflict between the Republic and the Nihil (more on them later) ramps up. The Jedi in this period feel keenly aware of past failures in their order’s history—there’s plenty of references to not just conflicts like the Sith Wars and battles against the Mandalorians, referencing both the old Knights of the Old Republic mythology and conflicts hinted at in shows like The Clone Wars, Star Wars Rebels, and The Mandalorian, but times when the Jedi Order was not as vast, beloved, or populous as it is at this time.

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The history of rise and fall, of purges and expansion, is referenced multiple times, as if the Jedi are almost aware that it will not always be the case that they are the preminent guardians of peace and justice across the galaxy. This is made more fascinating by some Jedi who have passing appearances across this story, given that they will still be around 200 years later by the time of the prequel movies—when the order has grown stagnant and blind to the idea of its impending downfall. It’s not just Yoda, who makes brief appearances here but will go on to have a more prominent role in the IDW young readers comic The High Republic Adventures. The council of this era includes blink-and-you’ll-miss-it luminaries like Yarael Poof and Oppo Rancisis, each are represented as keenly aware of the dark roads the Jedi have gone down before—and know they could again, should they continue to align themselves closer to the Republic’s impending conflicts.

Illustration for article titled Breaking Down iStar Wars: The High Republic/i—Old Jedi, New Tech, and Fascinating Connections

Screenshot: Lucasfilm

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We Are All The Republic

As well as introducing us to this era’s Jedi Knights, Light of the Jedi, A Test of Courage, High Republic #1, and the young reader picture books also have to, in turn, introduce their closest allies within the Republic’s executive offices. Although we meet a few senators and aides, there are also officers within the Republic’s loosely-connected peacekeeping forces. It doesn’t have a standing army or navy, but instead the Republic Defense Coalition, a small peacekeeping organization that works with the Jedi, themselves drafted into military engagements here alongside Republic officers for the first time in most of its order’s living memory. But the most important Republic figure we’ve met so far is its head of state: Chancellor Lina Soh.

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Soh is presented as a unifying figure driven by the connection the Republic has not just between member worlds—regardless of their location—but worlds that could yet be part of the Republic as her expansionist policies continue to push its reach ever further into the Outer Rim. A unifier and idealist, she’s fascinated with what she repeatedly refers to as her Great Works: monuments and tributes to the Republic’s ideals (like the Starlight Beacon station being built on the current edges of Republic space in the Outer Rim that becomes a de facto hub for the Jedi and these stories so far) that she hopes will forever outlast her term as Chancellor.

Soh’s optimism for a Republic that cares for all of its citizens is tempered by a shrewd, firm approach to any potential threat to its growth, whether it’s the hyperspace disaster that becomes known as the Emergences across these early stories, or eventually the Nihil, who Soh essentially declares war on by the end of Light of the Jedi.

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That latter event also places her relationship with the Jedi at large in an interesting light—at the current moment, the Republic general relationship with the Jedi Order is amicable, but distant. The Order’s temple is on Corsucant, sure, but they’re not political advisors or really helping to shape policy, they’re an entirely independent branch that just so happens to help the Republic if it suits the Order’s goals. The general populace sees them as great, but strange beings, the subject of romantic holonovels about love and frontier justice rather than the right hands of the Senate as we’d come to know them in the prequel films. Soh’s decision to essentially marshal the Jedi into military action alongside the RDC is a major turning point in the Order’s place within the Republic’s structure, and, well…we kind of already know how it’ll turn out.

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Hyperspace and the Great Disaster

Hyperspace travel and the technology behind it plays a major role in these early stories, which makes sense as they’re all primarily concerned with the outer rim—a region of space that is populated, but not heavily mapped, especially by Republic navigators. Traversing hyperspace in a structured capacity, through discovered and dispersed routes, is still a relatively recent thing by this period of the High Republic. Light of the Jedi introduces us to ancestors of the San Tekka line, a family of navigators and entrepreneurs (a family business currently maintained by husbands Marlowe and Vellis) who have become prominent, lucrative maintainers of maps and charts of safe, secure hyperspace travel in the known galaxy.

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All that is thrown into haywire with the Great Disaster—the collision between a Republic colonist ship called the Legacy Run and what is eventually revealed to be a Nihil raider. The Legacy Run’s disintegration mid-jump scatters debris, some containing surviving passengers, across hyperspace, dropping pieces out anywhere along a route at blistering speeds, turning them into devestating meteor strikes that can ravage star systems in a moments notice. It’s a cataclysm that is presented as something unlike anything witnessed in the Republic’s history and creates a crisis that will fundamentally reshape both it and the Jedi Order as they’re roped in to offer relief (and justice for the Disaster’s perpetrators), in part because hyperspace is still such an unknown quantity, much like the Force.

The Republic moves to lock down hyperspace travel to the Outer Rim for the duration, creating a socioeconomic logistical crisis in turn out of the need to divert aid to worlds suddenly cut off from trade routes and transit paths. It makes, for a rare moment in Star Wars, the galaxy seem impossibly larger and more unwieldy than it ever has been, and the physical act of traversing it so much more complex than just slamming down on a hyperdrive throttle and calling it a day.

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Illustration for article titled Breaking Down iStar Wars: The High Republic/i—Old Jedi, New Tech, and Fascinating Connections

Image: Lucasfilm

The Rise of Bacta

Hyperspace technology is not the only recent discovery that these first stages of the High Republic is deeply fascinated with, however. A particularly important development that plays a major role in the Jedi’s relief efforts is that one of the first systems affected by the Great Disaster is Hetzal, an agricultural system whose main resource and export has boomed in necessity because it was found it can be synthesized into the organic components of a new medical device: Bacta.

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Star Wars fans have known about the wildly miraculous healing properties of Bacta since Luke was submerged in a tub of it in Empire Strikes Back. It’s been interwoven throughout Star Wars media ever since as the first aid of the galaxy far, far away—as has its much less efficient predecessor Kolto, the naturally occurring healing liquid manufactured by the aquatic Selkath in Knights of the Old Republic, both of which get name-checked in Light of the Jedi.

Its discovery here is once again presented as a gamechanger unlike anything the protagonists of these stories has seen before, and is in part the reason the Jedi race into action to help save the system from total disaster. It’s also just really cool that, even though already familiar to us, one of the biggest “whoa” pieces of technology in these early stories isn’t a super weapon or some kind of capital ship: it’s just…really good medicine. That’s neat!

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Shadow of the Nihil

Aside from the Great Disaster—which isn’t really an antagonistic “force”—the threat established early on in these new stories, Light of the Jedi and Test of Courage in particular, is the Nihil. A gang of raiders in the outer rim of relatively low standing, they find themselves rocketed onto the intergalactic stage thanks to the machinations of their young new figurehead, Marchion Ro, when he subversively plans the Legacy Run disaster as an intended attempt to ignite hostility between the Republic and the worlds its beginning to encroach on in the Outer Rim.

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The Nihil itself is loosely divided into three strata. At the top is the Eye, an inherited title for the figurehead of the Nihil. The Eye distributed general orders and access to resources and technology to the next, most powerful layer of command: three Tempest Runners who each manage their own militias of raiders and ships—frontline pirates divided into the descending ranks of Storm, Cloud, and Strike. The structure was adopted by the arrival of Ro family within the Nihil organization, when Marchion’s father, the previous Eye, got them access to hyperspace technology even more advanced than the current charts and systems used by the Republic.

Illustration for article titled Breaking Down iStar Wars: The High Republic/i—Old Jedi, New Tech, and Fascinating Connections

Image: Lucasfilm

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Dubbed as “The Paths” and powered by specifically attuned hyperdrive engines, the Eye of the Nihil hands over access to these intricately detailed routes that are otherwise incapable of being accessed by conventional hyperspace engines. Not only do they allow Nihil ships to travel relatively undetected, the paths are intricate enough that, with the right calculations, Nihil ships can perform intensely short point-to-point hyperspace jumps, allowing them to reposition in battle (or, similar but not quite as far as Admiral Holdo’s desperate maneuver in The Last Jedi, prepare their ships for ramming actions by jumping within the immediate proximity of an enemy ship).

The paths, and Ro’s access to them, are what ultimately catapult the Nihil’s status from outer rim gangs to an interstellar threat by the time this first wave of High Republic releases comes to an end, setting the stage for a conflict not seen in the Republic’s history for a considerable time.

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Our first few forays into the era of Star Wars: The High Republic paint a fascinating picture of what’s to come, not just fleshing out this period of history but providing parallels and contrasts to the systems and organizations we’ve taken for granted in Star Wars’ own, long history. But for all its connections to what we know of Star Wars right now, what makes it stand out (so far, at least) is its willingness to use that familiarity to ask new and exciting questions about the galaxy far, far away.

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As The High Republic continues—and the inevitable twilight of its systems draws slowly but surely closer—it’ll be interesting just how much this balance can be maintained as Star Wars’ traditional stories of good versus evil, light and dark, and war and conflict, begin to enter the picture. We’ll be there every step of the way to let you know what’s up!

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Marvel Updates on Deadpool 3, Black Panther 2, X-Men, and More

Director Ryan Cooler and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talk Black Panther 2 in 2019.

Director Ryan Cooler and Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige talk Black Panther 2 in 2019.
Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney (Getty Images)

It’s been 18 months since fans got a new story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That changes this week with the release of Disney+’s WandaVision, and with it comes the second best part of a new Marvel release: new quotes from Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.

Feige and his team at Marvel Studios have been very busy in the year and a half since the release of Spider-Man: Far From Home. They’ve prepped and finished multiple movies and streaming shows, and recently announced even more of both stretching several years into the future. There was also the tragic loss of Chadwick Boseman in that time, the integration of Fox’s Marvel properties, and so much more.

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Below, we’ve rounded up just some of Feige’s latest updates on what’s to come for the MCU including Deadpool 3, Black Panther 2, Secret Invasion, Spider-Man 3, and the X-Men, to start.


Deadpool 3:

Speaking with Collider, Feige confirmed that a third Deadpool movie is currently being written, it will be rated R, and it will be in the MCU. But it’s still a little while out. “It will be rated R and we are working on a script right now, and Ryan [Reynolds is] overseeing a script right now,” he said. “It will not be [filming] this year. Ryan is a very busy, very successful actor. We’ve got a number of things we’ve already announced that we now have to make, but it’s exciting for it to have begun. Again, a very different type of character in the MCU, and Ryan is a force of nature, which is just awesome to see him bring that character to life.”

Black Panther 2:

Speaking to Deadline, Feige hinted that while T’Challa won’t be recast in the film, the sequel to Black Panther will dive deeper into the history and vastness of Wakanda. “So much of the comics and that first movie is the world of Wakanda,” Feige said. “Wakanda is a place to further explore with characters and different subcultures. This was always and initially the primary focus of the next story. We’re not going to have a CG Chadwick and we’re not recasting T’Challa. Ryan Coogler is working very hard right now on the script with all the respect and love and genius that he has, which gives us great solace, so it was always about furthering the mythology and the inspiration of Wakanda. There’s also the task of honoring and respecting the ongoing learnings and teachings from Chad as well.”

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X-Men:

With the huge news that Jon Watts is directing a Fantastic Four movie, the Fox Marvel properties are finally coming to the MCU. But what about the biggest of them all, the X-Men? Speaking to ScreenRant, Feige explained they haven’t been forgotten. “You know how much I love the X-Men. I already said that’s where I started,” he said. “I can’t tell you anything before we actually announced it, but rest assured, the discussions have been long and ongoing internally.”

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Spider-Man 3:

Jamie Foxx, Alfred Molina, Andrew Garfield, Tobey Maguire, the rumors and speculation about the third Tom Holland Spider-Man movie have been rampant in the past few months. Speaking to ComicBook, Feige basically said that not everything you’ve read is right, but it’s not wrong either. “I’ve read some things. I’m not sure I’ve read all things,” Feige said. “The fun thing about online speculation when it comes to our stuff is how sometimes it couldn’t be more off the mark and sometimes it’s shockingly close, and that’s held true for the last few years. But saying which is which would take all the fun out of everything.”

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Secret Invasion:

One of the biggest recent announcements from Marvel was that Samuel L. Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn would be reprising their roles from Captain Marvel and Spider-Man: Far From Home in a new Disney+ show called Secret Invasion. In the comics, Secret Invasion is a crossover event that seems much better suited to the big screen than Disney+ and, speaking to ComicBook, Feige explained things would be scaled back a bit.

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“Well, there were more characters in the Secret Invasion comic series than there were in Endgame so, no, it’s not that,” Feige said. But it very much is a showcase for Sam Jackson and Ben Mendelsohn and tapping into the paranoia elements of the Secret Invasion comic series that was great with the twists and turns that that took. So, that’s certainly our focus more than, ‘Can we cram in more characters than Endgame?”

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The other Netflix shows:

Speaking of crossovers, Marvel already had a big streaming crossover on Netflix with The Defenders. Those shows are no longer around, but when asked by Deadline about bringing back characters such as Charlie Cox’s Daredevil or Krysten Ritter’s Jessica Jones, Feige didn’t rule it out, but he didn’t seem confident either. “Well, certainly you’ve seen what we announced at Comic-Con a year and half ago and on Disney Investor Day a few weeks ago, so that’s our focus,” he said. “But I’ve been at Marvel long enough to never say never about anything.”

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Star Wars:

In addition to all of this, Feige has also reportedly been working on a Star Wars movie, which reportedly just added Loki writer Michael Waldron to its crew. When asked about this by Variety, Feige got decidedly tight-lipped

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“Everything you’ve heard about that has been leaked,” he said. “It’s not stuff that we’ve officially announced or gotten into. So, suffice to say, the focus is on all the number of Marvel things we’re working on. The what, where, when and how of that [Star Wars movie], I don’t know. I’m excited for The Book of Boba Fett, and the Rogue One show, and the Obi-Wan show, and Patty’s movie, and Taika’s movie. After Thor: Love and Thunder, of course.


The one thing Feige wouldn’t address was where Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was going. When asked if he could say when this group of films and TV shows ended, he simply said “No.” Sometimes saying nothing says it all.

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WandaVision begins this Friday.

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