"Monotonous. Mechanical. Not at all human."
That's what Wanda thought to herself when she first laid eyes on the bleached white entity that was once her husband, the Vision, in John Byrne's run on the Marvel Comics series West Coast Avengers in the late '80s. In issue #45, Wanda's search for her kidnapped husband ends in heartbreak when she finds the Vision horrifically mangled, and then dramatically changed.
Things are playing out differently in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Here's what a classic Avengers storyline reveals about the massive post-credits scene of WandaVision Episode 8, and what's to come in the explosive finale. Major spoilers for Episode 8 ahead.
In the eighth installment of WandaVision, the post-Avengers: Endgame whereabouts of both the Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) are revealed in an exposition-filled episode that not only explains Wanda's infatuation with television sitcoms, but also how her powerful grief created an artificial reality in a decaying New Jersey suburb.
We also learn that Tyler Hayward, the super sketchy director of S.W.O.R.D., sought to recover the vibranium corpse of Vision and use it as a three billion dollar weapon. Wanda, surprisingly, does not take back the body like we thought she did. Instead, she simply... goes home. To a plot of land in New Jersey she and Vision bought for themselves. A place "to grow old."
An outpouring of pent-up grief changes the town, however, with the Vision mysteriously resurrected before her eyes, and everything looking like The Dick Van Dyke Show.
In the post-credits scene of Episode 8, we learn Hayward still succeeded in his goal. (Turns out, a drone full of Wanda's magic was all they needed.) With the harvested powers of Wanda and the body of Vision, S.W.O.R.D. creates a "new" Vision, a pale white ghost in a refurbished shell. As the "White Vision" awakens, fans now anticipate a "Vision versus Vision" showdown that Vince McMahon could sell on pay-per-view.
But being that this is the MCU, "White Vision" didn't come from a vacuum. The Vision's history as the White Vision goes back to 1989, when Superman and Uncanny X-Men writer/artist John Byrne took on Marvel's West Coast Avengers.
Enter "Vision Quest"
When John Byrne took over writing duties on Avengers, the Vision was far removed from his original character, a machine created by Ultron. Vision was now a loving partner to Wanda, father to their children, and very much behaving like an eccentric human in a robot's body.
Byrne hated that. So, in a storyline titled "Vision Quest," Byrne had the Vision kidnapped and deconstructed; one of the most enduring images from "Vision Quest" is a nightmarishly disassembled Vision lying on a table at the end of issue #43. Issue #44 continues the horror story, with a ghastly page one profile shot of the Vision's face with his skin removed and his metallic membranes, tubes, and motherboards exposed in tangled, leaky coils.
In 2010, comics journalist Karen Walker commented in a December 2010 issue of Back Issue:
"This image alone has probably done more to shape how future writers (and readers) perceive the character than anything before or since. Once seen broken down into component parts, it’s hard to truly move past that image and think of the Vision as a synthetic man, not a machine."
By issue #45, Hank Pym reassembles Vision in an imperfect operation. Though Hank brings back Vision, Vision's personality is gone. The memories are there, but there is no emotional attachment to either Wanda or the Avengers.
Without the brain patterns of Wonder Man (the original source of Vision's personality, and not a combo of Stark, Banner, J.a.R.V.I.S., and the Mind Stone like in the MCU) and irreparable damage to his synthetic skin, the Vision ceases to be the colorful husband to Wanda and father to Tommy and Billy. (In fact, Byrne hated Vision so much, he also made Vision and Wanda's children fragments of Mephisto.) As the "White Vision," Vision becomes an emotionless, calculating Synthezoid.
Byrne's third-person narration summarizes Wanda's feelings:
"His voice has become once more the perfectly modulated monotone she heard when first he spoke to her, what now seems a hundred lifetimes ago. Each word is a separate entity, held distinct from those around it by the mechanical precision of the Vision's speech.
It would be a while before the Vision became whole again.
What "Vision Quest" means for WandaVision
Naturally, things are different in the MCU. (Jury's still out on Mephisto.) While White Vision is still a refurbished Vision in his original body, he is now a subject of S.W.O.R.D., an organization with still-mysterious plans that don't amount to anything past "having power." As a safeguard against alien threats, is S.W.O.R.D. in need of Vision against a coming invasion?
As far as WandaVision goes, we can guess S.W.O.R.D. will send White Vision — an inhuman, unfeeling sentient weapon possessing Vision's body — to kill Wanda, whose own magically-made Vision (last seen riding shotgun with Darcy Lewis in a clown car) will fight White Vision in a gentleman's duel. Paul Bettany recently said there's a guest actor in WandaVision he's always wanted to work with. There are theories that this actor is Patrick Stewart (reprising his Charles Xavier, because multiverse), but it's already a joke among fans that Bettany probably meant himself.
Whatever the case, the finale of WandaVision is going to be one for the ages.
WandaVision streams its finale next Friday on Disney+.