My first impact after staring at “We Interrupt This Program,” the fourth episode of Wonder’s live-action drama collection Wandavision, was once a bizarre aggregate of despair and déjà vu. The revelation that Wanda Maximoff (a.ok.a. Scarlet Witch) and her husband Imaginative and prescient’s misadventures as suburban newlyweds was once all in truth an elaborate myth conjured into being via Wanda’s personal powers was once an efficient twist, however the implied motivations in the back of Wanda’s hoax are what struck me so deeply.
I felt sympathetic to her unwillingness to dwell in a Submit-Blip international with out any individual left in her existence to divulge heart’s contents to or depend on, and I used to be horrified via the consequences of what her powers have been doing to the minds of all 3,892 of Westview’s hapless denizens. However any other idea crossed my thoughts: There was once unquestionably an episode of the Justice League caricature that did this very same factor.
And sure there was once. In “Legends,” a season 1 episode of the 2001 animated Justice League collection, John Stewart, Hawkgirl, J’onn J’onzz aka The Martian Manhunter, and the Flash are stuck within the reactor explosion of a big Evangelion-esque robotic. They conscious to search out themselves in Seaboard Town, a 1950s-esque the city à l. a. Pleasantville, that exists in another measurement from their very own. J’onn is distrubed via photographs of a nuclear blast when he makes an attempt to telepathically touch Batman and Superman, however that’s all of a sudden forgotten because the League inadvertently clashes and therefore groups up with the Justice Guild of The usa, the city’s resident superheroes.
The superheroes are acquainted faces: They’re all John’s Stewart’s favourite youth comedian e book characters, along with the Guild’s plucky younger mascot and honorary member Ray Thompson. Every of the contributors are a pastiche patterned after DC Comics’ personal vintage model of the Justice League, the Justice Society of The usa. Tom Turbine stands in for the Atom, the Streak for Jay Garrick/the Flash, Cat Guy for Wildcat, Black Siren for Black Canary, and Inexperienced Guardsman for, after all, the Golden Age model of Inexperienced Lantern.
However beneath the placid campy external and low-stakes encounters with pun-obsessed cornball “supervillains” is one thing extra sinister. Hawkgirl and Inexperienced Lantern find a cemetery with gravestones for the Justice Guild. Town library is filled with books with not anything however clean pages, there’s a solitary ice cream truck whose driving force refuses to forestall for concern of a few horrible unknown pressure, and a 40-year previous newspaper referencing an imminent warfare lies buried underneath the ruins of an deserted subway station.
John and Hawkgirl confront the Guild and their teammates with those discoveries, during which J’onn finds what he has suspected since they arrived right here. This “fact” isn’t genuine in any respect, however an phantasm created via none rather than Ray, the Justice Guild’s child sidekick. J’onn telepathically dispels Ray’s cover, revealing his true shape as a mutant psychic who, disfigured and empowered via the irradiated blast that decimated his international just about part a century in the past, has warped the nuclear ruins of his former homeland right into a portrait of Rockwellian idyllicism to retreat from the horrors of the true international. The “electorate” of Seaboard are survivors slave to his whims and psychic projections of the heroes he worshiped in his formative years. The Justice Guild have been blissfully unaware that their heroics have been all in useless, and that their real-life opposite numbers, and lots of the international, died a very long time in the past.
Whilst to start with, WandaVision and “Legends” may seem radically other of their related scale and stakes, each Ray and Wanda are immensely proficient psychics who, moderately than confront the ache in their respective traumas in their provide, isolate themselves in self-made myth worlds. They’ve each shaped their change realities after the aesthetics of post-war The usa, and feature wrapped all the ones round them up of their effort to dissociate.
Ray survived the nuclear fallout that decimated human civilization and was once granted immense psychic powers via publicity to nuclear radiation, however was once rendered horrifically disfigured for the enjoy. Wanda misplaced no longer most effective her brother Pietro right through the Struggle of Sokovia in Avengers: Age of Ultron, however was once later confronted with the load of destroying the Thoughts Stone, and necessarily killing her personal lover, to be able to thwart Thanos’ plot to kill off part of all existence within the universe. After following via on that horrible selection, she was once pressured to look at helplessly because it was once rendered moot. Thanos merely used the Time Stone to resurrect Imaginative and prescient and pluck the Thoughts Stone from his brow, killing him in entrance of her a 2d time. That’s all on best of the trauma of getting been snapped and therefore resurrected right through the climax of Avengers: Endgame.
It’s cheap that each characters regressed additional into the comfy assurance in their powers, into the security of an in-grown myth the place they’re the self-appointed godheads of an idealized previous. Whilst the origins in the back of Ray’s powers are made transparent via the top of “Legends,” it’s but recognized what (or in all probability even who) is accountable for Wanda’s heretofore untapped wellspring of psychic powers, let on my own what drew her particularly to the city of Westview.
Every other a very powerful level of comparability is that, whilst Ray is the (albeit sympathetic) antagonist and villain of “Legends,” Wanda is indubitably one in every of, if no longer the protagonist of Wandavision. Ray’s look as a one-off personality in “Legends” made his villain expose really feel believable but inexplicable, whilst the identical of that revelation in Wandavision is arguably extra unexpected for the truth that we had already spent 4 episodes along her as a personality. It begs the query: If Wanda was once suppressing the reality in the back of her and Imaginative and prescient’s existence from each her husband and the “target market” (each Darcy Lewis and Agent Woo and ourselves), what else may she be withholding — or moderately repressing — from herself? Is Wanda the actual “villain” of this tale, or is there another but unseen pressure transferring in the back of the scenes, subtly compelling Wanda to center of attention her energies on this explicit the city? Simply what is so particular about Westview, New Jersey?
In “Legends,” the contributors of the Justice Guild know that in the event that they lend a hand the Justice League defeat Ray, then Seaboard Town as they realize it — at the side of themselves — will stop to exist. And so they do it anyway. “We died as soon as to avoid wasting this Earth, and we will do it once more,” The Streak tells his teammates as they price to the League’s rescue. In WandaVision, it’s turn out to be transparent that Imaginative and prescient’s dawning realization relating to the actual nature in their lives in Westview is a brewing pressure between him and Wanda. The pair appear headed for their very own explosive war of words, one the place Imaginative and prescient himself may have to select as soon as once more to sacrifice his personal existence for the sake of a long term with out him.
Justice League is recently streaming on HBO Max
Vox Media has associate partnerships. Those don’t affect editorial content material, regardless that Vox Media might earn commissions for merchandise bought by way of associate hyperlinks. For more info, see our ethics coverage.