I do not know this man. I think I recognize him, but WandaVision, Marvel Studios’s ambitious new series on Disney+, has me doubting even that.
In my prime, I was scooping up comic books every Wednesday afternoon at my hole-in-the-wall downtown comic-book shop, and a good number of my favorite series featured a young—or old, depending on the universe—man imbued with super-strength and a haughty personality. His name was Pietro Maximoff, otherwise known as Quicksilver. He was, ostensibly, the brother of Wanda Maximoff, the so-called Scarlet Witch and protagonist of the aforementioned WandaVision. I felt a kinship with this character’s terrible choice in hairstyles. Beyond that, I didn’t know or care much about him.
But then word got out that he’d be appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron, and I re-invested myself. At this point in my young adulthood, I’d guzzled the Marvel Kool-Aid and was regularly scrolling Tumblr for trailer drops, theories, and spoilers in between classes. I think I actually cried when he died in the film, though, admittedly, I cried a lot in those days. Regardless, Aaron-Taylor Johnson as Pietro had my attention.
But then there was this other Pietro. Evan Peters first showed up as “Peter” in X-Men: Days of Future Past and briefly captured Tumblr’s attention with his “Time in a Bottle” scene, in which he moved so quickly time seemed to freeze around him. Everyone knew this “Peter” was actually Pietro/Quicksilver, or at least some franchise-ified version of him.
But here’s the catch: These two actors played the same character and a completely different character. Aaron-Pietro was a full-grown man who was born in Sokovia, lived in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and died while fighting Ultron. Evan-Pietro was a kid who messed around with mutants and ate Twinkies, all within the X-Men Cinematic Universe. They have no real relation to each other besides a name and a superpower.
Now, flash forward to WandaVision, and—wonder of wonders—the once-thought-dead Pietro shows up on his sister’s doorstep, landing smack in the middle of her sitcom world right before everything goes to shit. But this is Evan-Pietro. To Wanda’s eyes, he looks off: she remembers growing up with Aaron-Pietro instead. Darcy Lewis—an astrophysicist from the Thor movies whom S.W.O.R.D taps to assess Wanda’s Westview-hijacking—claims Wanda “recast Pietro.” But Wanda has no memory of doing that. She’s as mystified by Pietro’s presence in Westview as he is.
So, somebody tell me…who is this man?
Get that smug smirk off your face until we know who you really are.
Let’s go through a few theories.
Theory #1: This Pietro has been plucked from an alternate universe.
Disney owns both the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the X-Men films, which were created in partnership between Marvel Entertainment and 20th Century Fox. So, it’s altogether possible that the so-called X-Men Cinematic Universe could collide with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Thus it’s possible that the Pietro who arrives in Westview is, indeed, Evan-Pietro, and that he arrived off the set of X-Men: Dark Phoenix. This seems unlikely, because WandaVision‘s Pietro has memories that align with the Aaron-Pietro.
In WandaVision, Pietro tells his sister he remembers getting shot. (That never happens in X-Men.) He remembers going trick-or-treating in Sokovia. (That also never happens in X-Men.) So if he’s truly a mutant, how can he have those memories? It doesn’t add up, unless someone else is manipulating his mind…
Theory #2: This Pietro is not a Pietro at all.
I’ll admit it’s been a few years since I spent literally all my free time reading Marvel fan boards, but I’m not so rusty I can’t sniff out a good theory. This is the one I think has legs: The Pietro who arrives in Westview is not actually Pietro.
We have a few reasons to believe this. One, he doesn’t have the right face. Two, he’s far too cavalier about the whole “my-sister-is-creating-her-own-sitcom-world” thing. Three, at the end of WandaVision episode 7, we see a mid-credits scene in which he catches Monica Rambeau lurking around the back of Agatha Harkness’s house. When he surprises her, he quips, “Snoopers gonna snoop.”
Unless he’s just trying to terrify Monica for gags, he must be protecting Agatha’s property, and if that’s the case, then he’s on her side. The, uh, evil side.
Which means he’s likely a creation of Agatha herself. Remember that, at the end of episode 7, Agatha reveals herself as a witch. If Wanda Maximoff has the power to reincarnate Vision, maybe Agatha can recreate her own version of Pietro.
Another reason I love this theory? A product drop seems to confirm it. (Marvel has a serious habit of shooting itself in the foot when it comes to products and spoilers. Gotta get that merch money!) Funko Pop—you know, those weird balloon-headed bobblehead things—recently revealed their figure for WandaVision‘s Pietro, and his title on the box reads “Pietro Maximoff.” Notice the quotations.
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Why would there be quotations around his name, unless that’s not really his name? None of the other Funko Pop boxes have them. You see what I’m implying. Food for thought.
Theory #3: Pietro is actually Mephisto. Or Loki.
WandaVision fans have an ardent fascination with Mephisto, the Marvel villain based on the Mephistopheles of German legend. The simplest way to explain him is, well, he’s a demon with a lot of power. Let’s leave it at that for now.
He’s also capable of shape-shifting. Some fans believe Agatha is trying to summon or revive him in her strange little Basement of Terror. Others think she’s already done so, and he took the form of Pietro to keep from rousing Wanda’s suspicions.
Still others believe this Pietro is Loki in disguise, and that Loki’s presence in the show would tie the series to the upcoming Loki series, as well as to upcoming films including Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, and Spider-Man 3. I appreciate this theory because it correctly assumes Marvel is willing to make enormous logical stretches work in order to preserve its money-making machine—an unstoppable wheel of sequels and spin-offs and reboots. And it’s possible Tom Hiddleston is the mystery actor Paul Bettany, who plays Vision, mentioned in several interviews.
But putting Loki and Agatha in the same room would feel odd, because Loki is by far the more established (and beloved) villain. He would usurp her immediately. Why bring Agatha (and the inimitable Kathryn Hahn) into the limelight, only to crush her star power by bringing in the one villain Marvel fans love to make excuses for?
Still, it’s possible Loki is just that crafty. For now, I do not trust this Pietro—and will not until he reveals his true face.
Lauren Puckett is a writer and assistant for Hearst Magazines, where she covers culture and lifestyle.
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