This post includes frank discussion of WandaVision Episode 5 titled “On a Very Special Episode…” If you haven’t yet watched, now is the time to leave.
Unlike the appearance of a de-aged Mark Hamill or tiny baby Grogu on The Mandalorian, the bombshell appearance of Evan Peters as the Marvel superhero Quicksilver in the final seconds of WandaVision this week wasn’t a very well-kept secret. News of Peters’s casting seeped into the fandom groundwater months ago. But that doesn’t mean the implications of his appearance here are any less exciting.
In fact, it’s not an exaggeration to say that this one TV moment has changed everything about the kinds of stories Marvel can tell going forward. Not bad for such a speedy appearance. Why does Quicksilver matter? Why does it matter that Evan Peters is playing him? And, more importantly, what does that mean for Spider-Man 3, Doctor Strange 2, and beyond? Let’s get into it.
You may or may not recall that Wanda Maximoff’s twin brother, Pietro, was played by Golden Globe winner Aaron Taylor-Johnson in the Marvel movie Avengers: Age of Ultron. Pietro, sadly, did not make it out of that movie alive. But what’s a little death in the world of Marvel, right? Especially when Wanda seems to be magically puppeteering the robotic corpse of her boyfriend, Vision (Paul Bettany), through an idyllic New Jersey suburb. So after dropping hints about her brother all season, Wanda finds him, alive and smirking, on her doorstep. Only he’s not played by Taylor-Johnson: He’s played by Evan Peters, who played another version of Quicksilver in the Fox films X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Dark Phoenix. Taylor-Johnson’s Pietro and Peters’s Peter coexisted in completely different cinematic universes, a complicating factor of Marvel and Fox’s odd joint custody of Marvel comics properties.
But when Marvel acquired Fox in 2019, the Disney-owned company took over the rights to the X-Men (and the Fantastic Four), as well as all the mutants that come with them. And so instead of bringing Taylor-Johnson in to play Wanda’s brother, they tapped Peters, implying that somehow—oh, I don’t know; maybe through that scary, throbbing, sky-high energy wall we saw turn red this week—Wanda has ripped a hole in the multiverse and plucked the Peters version of the character out of a different world and into hers to play the role of her brother. Or, at least, someone plucked him.
Listen: Don’t get too spun out by the concept of a multiverse. If you’ve seen the Oscar-winning animated Sony film Into the Spider-Verse, you already know everything there is to know. Multiple parallel universes exist. You can have one Peter Parker voiced by Chris Pine die, only to be replaced by another, more disheveled version of the web-slinger voiced by Jake Johnson. Easy enough!
Marvel chief Kevin Feige indicated that he would be implementing the concept of the multiverse into his storytelling now that the 10-year era of storytelling known as the Infinity Saga has come to a close. In fact, the upcoming Doctor Strange sequel has long-born the subtitle “in the Multiverse of Madness.” Feige has talked about the concept of the multiverse kicking off in WandaVision, extending through the third Tom Holland Spider-Man film, and coming to a head with Doctor Strange. All three movies may or may not involve Benedict Cumberbatch’s Sorcerer Supreme in some fashion.
So what, exactly, does it mean to have the multiverse as a storytelling option going forward? Well, it means everything is on the table. After warming comic book audiences up slowly, over the course of a decade, with slightly more straightforward stories of Iron Man and Captain America, things are about to get much, much weirder. And Feige, who recently talked to Vanity Fair’s Still Watching podcast about the studio’s ability to pluck out characters from their library of films—like Kat Dennings from the Thor franchise and Randall Park from Ant-Man and the Wasp—now has a much, much bigger pool of talent to pull from.