Finding your way in any “new thing” in life can be challenging. In the case of WandaVision, that statement could pertain to Wanda and Vision living in Westview, or to the many viewers who simply don’t understand what this series is all about…yet.
Having created 23 successful films and a trademark approach to storytelling, Marvel Studios naturally had to evolve in its methods and genres. The term “foreshadowing” is a literary technique used by writers to hint at or allude to future plot developments. I rather enjoy using it myself. While the sitcom based episodes of WandaVision are a giant, living and visual metaphor (built with clues, nudges & symbols) they can confuse even the most adept of Marvel fans. I can understand how the casual fans could feel lost…so far.
Although this may cast a shadow of sorts over the WandaVision experience for some, I believe the biggest shadow is being created by our very own expectations for what a Marvel project is.
It’s easy to get lost in the minutiae of it all. For instance, Jimmy Woo calling out to Wanda with the term “…can you read me? Over.” alludes to the idea that she would have a device that he expects her to receive the message with; or does it?. Has Wanda been working with Jimmy (under the FBI or SWORD) all along? Who knows? The excitement is in letting the imagination run wild and enjoying the ride.
Will the amount of foreshadowing actually cast a shadow over WandaVision and take away from the bright creativity displayed in these shows? I say no; because like I have stated before….there are levels to this Marvel life (in theory). If you’re like me, you’re loving all of this!
When I began hypothesizing about what director Matt Shakman was attempting to achieve with the sitcom-based episodes of the series, I was inundated with appearances of familiar characters (if only in name or symbols), slick references to relevant story plots from the comics & films, and clues to future events.
Mephisto clues were all over the place, but there was another character that I had high expectations of seeing before any trailers were released; the self god himself, HE (High Evolutionary).
Where Can We Find The High Evolutionary In WandaVision?
While the devil has been teased throughout, but never named, Marvel has seen fit to give us “Herb” live and in the flesh. Shown first in the 2020 Disney Investor Day trailer greeting Vision as “Buddy”, Herb presents as a towering nice guy.
In watching the first few episodes of WandaVision, we see the easter egg of “Bova’s milk” (referencing a “cow-woman” created by High Evolutionary that nannied the orphaned Wanda & Pietro in the comic books) in the supermarket scene of Episode 2’s intro.
Next, we see Herb’s cartoon avatar shearing hedges & waving at Vis. We are then introduced to his character at the head of the (round)table, leading in what would be the neighborhood (k)nightwatch formed by “a members only” group of (new) men from Westview. As Vision crashes the meeting, which is really a brunch, he convinces the group that although he is weird, he is a good guy. (I will double back to all of these clues later and show how it’s connected, so please be patient.)
When the fellas in the group laugh off their apprehensions and gossip, Herb offers Vision a stick of Big Red gum. Many jumped to the conclusion that was yet another clue for Mephisto, but having manipulated images of Marvel characters for so long, I took that as a double entendre for High Evolutionary as well. (HE has been displayed in various colors as his character has evolved, but he was “Big Red” when he faced off with Galactus after creating the planet Counter-Earth; not to be mistaken for the Counter-Earth created by Mister Fantastic & The Invisible Woman’s son, Franklin Richards.)
Fast forward to the next time we see him at the magic show in WandaVision‘s second episode. Vis chooses Herb (who clarifies his name is Herbert) for the “Is This Your Card” magic trick. Last but not least, although it took Vis flipping through the whole deck, he finally finds Herb’s card: The King Of Spades!
All of WandaVision‘s foreshadowing may seem a bit much but Marvel has taken this technique to another level since they have 8 decades of published work from which to draw. Believe it or not, they’re just getting started. Now that we see the easter eggs from Episode 2, let’s go to the comic book origin of High Evolutionary and try to make sense of them all:
Born Herbert Edgar Wyndham, this character grew up a genius in Great Britain and very close to his mother. He lived with her into adulthood until she passed away leaving him an inheritance that he used to further his curiosities in Genetics & Evolution; a study very close to the theme I laid out in “Destiny vs. Deviation”.
These experiments that he performed in his mother’s basement would have him cross paths with the likes of Nathaniel Essex (Mr. Sinister), Arnim Zola, Jonathan Drew, and other geneticists. Herb would be given the key to genetic evolution by a mysterious figure that years later would be revealed as the Inhuman, Phaeder. Jonathan Drew, father of Jessica Drew, (the original Spider-Woman) along with his wife, Miriam would team up with Herb and move their combined inheritances to Wundagore Mountain in Transia, overlooking the country’s capitol, East Transia.
It should be noted that Transia borders with Macedonia, Romania and Serbia. Wundagore Mountain is its most famous landmark. Discovering a wealth of uranium deposits in the mountain, they amassed a large fortune and built one of the most advanced research facilities in the world that would eventually double for a spaceship.
His assistant Miles Warren (another Spider-Man related character; Jackal) would help Herb develop an isotope that quickly evolved animals into creatures with a hybrid appearance and human intelligence; they would be called “New Men”. Remember that phrase. Does knowing that Herb could possibly tie into Olivia Wilde’s Marvel project excite you as much as it does me?
Anyway, Bova was one of the first new men created. Is the previously mentioned easter egg to Wanda’s origin a foreshadow or clever clue? All I know is that it’s connected to Herb, and there’s more. In time, Herb, now High Evolutionary would discover an ancient being (referred to as an Elder god) named Chthon trapped under Wundagore Mountain.
Chthon is the creator of the book of magic called “The Darquehold” (or Dark Hold) made popular in Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD. In order to fight Chthon and protect “his castle” HE created more new men and named them The Knights of Wundagore. Yes, the (k)nightwatch group was another easter egg to High Evolutionary in WandaVision.
But what about the shears? What about the King of Spades card? Well, besides the facts that HE is the “King” of Wundagore and the spade symbolizes the Medieval knights (and warrior class) that The Knights of Wundagore were created and named after…shears and spades are gardening tools. One of Wundagore’s tourist attractions is a very rare flower, The Wundagore Everbloom.
“It can only be grown in the shadow-passes of Wundagore Mountain” and is said to give precognitive abilities when a petal is placed on a person’s tongue. They also appear similar to roses (like the ones surrounding Wanda & Dottie’s houses). I foreshadowed this easter egg in my “Ralph” article. Natives tend to get over on tourists by dying the rose petals and selling them as the Everbloom.
Agatha Harkness, the inspiration for Agnes’ character, gives Wanda & Vision an arrangement of Everbloom when they get married in the comics as well. There is a rich history in Marvel pertaining to Herb’s root character, as well as his involvement in Wanda’s life; too much to list here though. (I encourage those interested to read up on him because I believe that his appearance in WandaVision is another foreshadowing of what is to come in Phase 4 and 5.)
The story and conspiracy theories are continuously ever blooming (I can’t help myself). I realize It is truly amazing how detail-oriented these episodes are. It is also amazing how neurotic I can be about picking up on the majority of these clues.
The fact that Marvel went out of their way to not only write Herbert into the story for more than a symbolic nod to the Maximoff’s origin, but to stand as a symbolic easter egg for what’s to come in Phase 4 continues to give me high hopes. I still keep the infamous scooper, Roger Wardell’s tweet claiming that James Gunn plans to make HE Rocket Raccoon’s creator in the back of my mind.
President & CCO of Marvel, Kevin Feige, has conveyed his excitement for expanding the MCU to tell more cosmic stories; HE is a keystone character for Marvel in that light. I also found some additional clues in Episode 2 that I will save for Part II of this feature (after Episode 3 airs).
I wish I could go on but my word count is too high! I don’t want to spoil the show for anyone either. Please let me know if you guys noticed any of these WandaVision clues in the comments, along with any I didn’t mention. Enjoy Episode 3. Be well. Manchild out.