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WandaVision's disappointing reveal points to a much bigger problem

Digital Spy (UK) logo Digital Spy (UK) 25/02/2021 David Opie
Teyonah Parris that is standing in the grass: WandaVision's aerospace engineer reveal disappointed a lot of Marvel fans, but is it fair to criticise Disney Plus' show for something it never promised? © Disney - Marvel Studios WandaVision's aerospace engineer reveal disappointed a lot of Marvel fans, but is it fair to criticise Disney Plus' show for something it never promised?

WandaVision episode 7 spoilers follow.

Seven episodes in, WandaVision has finally confirmed that it really was "Agatha all along". While that might not have come as much of a surprise to Marvel comic book fans, this reveal was still perfect thanks in large part to Kathryn Hahn's deliciously camp performance.

However, the same can't be said for another episode seven reveal that's since been overshadowed by Agatha's impressive pipes.

Way back in episode five, Monica Rambeau realised that she would need a special vehicle to enter Westview, "a fallout shelter on wheels". To make that happen, Teyonah Parris' character mentions that she'll need an aerospace engineer. Luckily enough, Monica already knows one, so she reaches out.

Teyonah Parris wearing a blue shirt: WandaVision episode 7 - Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau © Disney - Marvel Studios WandaVision episode 7 - Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau

What seemed like a throwaway line to some immediately sparked discussion across the worldwide web, prompting fans everywhere to speculate on the identity of this aerospace engineer. Names like Mister Fantastic and War Machine number among the most popular, but a whole host of viable contenders came up, including Beast, Shuri, and even more obscure heroes like Blue Marvel.

If you venture far enough into the realm of the tenuous, any one of these characters could have made sense, expanding the MCU — and perhaps even the multiverse — in new, exciting ways.

So imagine the surprise of Marvel fans everywhere when episode seven revealed that this engineer was just a random woman named Major Goodner. No big surprises came out of this moment, and without a comic book counterpart to draw further clues from, the "reveal" was seen by many as a let-down.

That's not to say fans should dictate how a show is written or even how specific mysteries unfold. That kind of entitlement can cause problems, often contributing to a wider toxic discourse. But it's also fair to say that a show like WandaVision actively invites viewers to untangle the mysteries that lie within, and it certainly feels like the engineer reveal was set up to entice fans in a similar way.

After Monica initially mentioned setting up this meeting, the following episode then teased this more by stretching out her journey to Goodner. Combine all that set-up with the nature of the show itself, and it's easy to see why fans assumed something more interesting would come of all this.

And then there's the small matter of Teyonah herself, who personally teased something big was coming our way.

a truck driving down a dirt road: WandaVision episode 7 © Marvel Studios - Disney WandaVision episode 7

During an interview with Comicbook.com, the Marvel star said, "I can't wait to see what y'all's reaction is when you learn [who] the aerospace engineer is." Naturally, this led fans to assume that their suspicions were correct, that this big reveal really would be worth the wait. But then that only compounded the eventual disappointment.

Looking back though, that's not actually Teyonah's fault. Yes, she knew that the engineer wasn't particularly significant, but the interviewer didn't, so Teyonah was actually just deflecting the question here as politely as possible. The surprise was that there is no surprise, and the reaction to that was what excited Teyonah, not the identity of the engineer herself.

Still, it's safe to say that WandaVision itself definitely played up the aerospace engineer angle, even if the writers did so accidentally.

In some ways, this feels like a missed opportunity. Imagine if another MCU character like James Rhodes had been brought in or even someone "new" from the X-Men or Fantastic Four. On a purely geeky, fan-based level, this would have been incredible to see, but is it fair to criticise the show for not doing something that's based purely on our own personal expectations?

In recent years, TV fans have become adept at sleuthing, predicting plenty of big twists long before the writers even want us to find out the answers. Notable examples include that Mr. Robot's surprise in season two and pretty much everything that went on in the first season of Westworld.

Casual viewers might have remained blissfully unaware of these discussions, but anyone with access to Reddit could spoil pretty much any reveal like this if they wanted to.

Elizabeth Olsen holding a cell phone: WandaVision episode 7 - Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda © Marvel Studios - Disney WandaVision episode 7 - Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda

That in itself is not a bad thing. If you're the kind of person who wants all the answers upfront, it's great that there are like-minded people out there willing to put in the detective work and help unravel your favourite shows.

The problem is when the surprises and twists take centre stage, detracting from the actual plot and storytelling. By obsessing over each reveal and trying to predict everything weeks in advance, the impact of the story itself can sometimes be overlooked, and disappointment can settle in when our predictions inevitably turn out to be false. That criticism is just as true of entertainment journalism sites like us, as it is of the countless Reddit boards, and Twitter threads that over-analyse everything.

For every article written about sexist Marvel tropes or Billy's queer future in the MCU, there are countless more simply trying to figure out what's coming next. Paul Bettany recently said that some WandaVision fan theories are "incredibly accurate" — yay us! — but sometimes, it's important to take a step back and think about what these twists are actually trying to convey without automatically criticising them for not going how we want.

Yes, it was "Agatha all along" and sure, we want to figure out who Bettany's mystery cameo is as much as the next guy, but before we crack out our conspiracy whiteboards again, let's stop and smell the roses for a minute. Or maybe not. We hear that Dottie's prized flowers only "bloom under the penalty of death".

WandaVision airs weekly every Friday on Disney+.

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