WandaVision: Has fan speculation changed the way we watch TV?

Johnathan Mack explores why fan speculation is a double-edged sword

Johnathan Mack
3rd March 2021
Credit: Flickr
Since it's premiere in January, the internet has been abuzz with fan speculation around WandaVision, but will it be a satisfying conclusion or are audiences setting themselves up for disappointment?

As Wandavision sits as the number 1 show in the world right now, Marvel Studios has proven once again that they know how to reel audiences in.

Each week, audiences have been left scratching their heads wondering what is going to happen next and they’ve turned to the internet in search of answers. So many rumors have been circling online about every aspect of the show, questioning who the mysterious Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) is, how the X-Men are involved and whether a devilishly surprising villain will make an appearance. These theories present an alluring opportunity for fans to gain insight into the future of the show.

Mentor and Villain(?) Kathryn Hahn's Agatha Harkness and Elizabeth Olsen's Wanda Maximoff Credit: IMDb

But should we really be trying to guess what happens next?

Surely plot twists are much more impactful when they come as a complete surprise instead of viewers coming prepped with weeks to let the twist sink in before we see it play out onscreen. The reveal of *SPOILERS* Agnes as Wanda’s comic frenemy, Agatha Harkness, had been speculated long before the show aired, and fan speculation may have robbed WandaVision of what could have been a shocking third act twist.

What makes WandaVision such an enjoyable series to follow is that it stimulates conversation

Game of Thrones was a victim of its own fame as it hurtled into the final season. In an attempt to avoid a predictable conclusion, the showrunners intentionally tried to diverge from popular theories surrounding the show. That choice, however, resulted in a disappointing ending which felt undeserved and offered no reward for those who had invested so much time into speculation.

Many fans speculated Monica Rambeau's engineer friend would be Reed Richards AKA Mr Fantastic Credit: IMDb

Undoubtedly, fan speculation has become an integral part of how viewers choose to engage with TV and WandaVision encourages its audience to engage in a way that is way above the level of casual viewing. Just look at how Dallas’ ‘who shot J.R?’ speculation is discussed even 40 years on.

In my experience of the show, I’ve found that part of what makes WandaVision such an enjoyable series to follow is that it stimulates conversation. It’s not just about tuning in once a week, its about participating in an ongoing phenomenon with the narrative being teased out before us.  Disney could have dropped the show in one burst, but they’ve gone for weekly releases to stoke the flames of discussion. Disney expects us to engage in this kind of speculation, because they know that is what will get us tuning in week after week.

Whereas Game of Thrones snubbed fans for investing in speculation, WandaVision has satisfyingly rewarded viewers who engage so closely with it. For theorisers, anticipating plot twists can be just as satisfying as the twist itself.

One thing is for sure, WandaVision has us right where it wants us as we eagerly await the final episode: begging for the answers to our burning questions.

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  1. People who read the comics already have an idea, it's mostly them who are theorising because they're trying to connect them, and the majority still enjoy it. Part of the stimulating conversation is theorising.

    The only thing that ruins it is when those working on the media try to make things too complicated to throw the audience off. The audience shouldn't be told they can't theorise; they're not running the media, but engaging with it. It's the creators of that media who need to be careful with what they do with fan engagement.

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