The classic black and white commercials interspersed in Marvel’s WandaVision episodes are quirky but make it easier for the viewer to accept that we’re watching a television series from the black-and-white past. On closer inspection however, the commercials subliminally reveal the tragedy that’s been the life of Wanda Maximoff (the Scarlet Witch).
The Toast Mate 2000 commercial
The Toast Mate 2000 WandaVision commercial starts with a toaster burning bread with the line, “Is your husband tired of you burning his toast?” The lady presenter pushes the lever and we hear the whining sound of Iron Man’s repulsors (the Iron Man suit’s units that project energy into space) while an ominous light begins blinking. As the commercial runs, the light turns red, the only color in the scene, and begins to blink faster. Soon the light is accompanied by an alarming beep. The viewer, as expected, becomes anxious, realizing something is not quite right, before the announce concludes by telling us to “forget the past”.
The commercial symbolizes the trauma Wanda felt by the death of her parents. Recall that the twins, Wanda and Pietro, survived an attack but were trapped in a bombed out building next to a fallen bomb that somehow failed to explode. They remained trapped next to the bomb for two full days. As Wanda told Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron, “We waited for two days for Tony Stark to kill us.” As the twins laid anxiously next to the bomb, they read the inscription on its housing. Like the manufacturer emblem on the Toast Mate 2000 reveals, the bomb that tortured the twins for 48 hours was made by Stark Industries.
The Strucker Wrist Watch
In the commercial from the second episode of WandaVision, a man is shown dressed in a dapper tuxedo, getting ready for an extravagant event. The narrator notes that the man’s ensemble is not complete without his special lady and his Strucker wrist watch. The WandaVision commercial ends with the narrator announcing, “Strucker, he’ll make time for you”, and a ticking sound that grows faster as the commercial fades.
Recall that in Age of Ultron, we were first introduced to Wanda Maximoff and her twin brother. They had been held captive, in a sterile lab, experimented on in order to bring about the “age of miracles”. The scientist who led the effort bore the name of the watch in the commercial – Baron Wolfgang von Strucker. As the commercial ends and the camera zooms in on the watch face, we see the symbol and manufacturer name – Hydra – the Marvel criminal organization that led Baron von Strucker’s work.
The Hydra Soak
The Hydra Soak commercial from the third episode of WandaVision introduced a frazzled mom frowning as chaos erupts throughout her home (the commercial occurs right after it starts raining in Wanda and Vision’s living room). Children knock over a cereal bowl, a dog pees in the kitchen, a blender overflows on the counter, and a dinner looks dramatically overcooked. A voiceover asks, “Do you need a break?” The woman of course agrees, “You read my mind!” Suddenly, she is transported into a bubble bath with servants fanning her.
“Come with me. Escape to a world all your own, where your problems float away. When you want to get away, but you don’t want to go anywhere, Hydra Soak. Find the goddess within.”
The Hydra Soak box features octopi and the words, “Hydra Soak Luxury Bath Powder. Net Wt. 4 OZS. Made in USA.” This hidden meaning in this WandaVision commercial? Clearly the brand is a reference to Hydra, the organization that “gave” Wanda her powers through their thoughtless experimentation, and the “escape to a world all your own” relates to the reality that Wanda has created.
Note there is a subtle anomaly in the commercial – the woman has a mixed-race family. This would certainly be wildly out of place in a 1970’s-era commercial.
Lagos Paper Towels
Episode 4 was the only episode to not feature a commercial and just when you thought episode 5 was going to end without a commercial, we are presented with a paper towel brand, Lagos. The commercial is shown right after Wanda’s tense confrontation with S.W.O.R.D. agents outside Westview. A family is eating breakfast when one of the children spills a glass of Westview Juicery Fruit Punch. The woman tries in vain to soak up the mess with a “leading brand” paper towel. The announcer tell sher she should be using Lagos brand paper towels.
The scene cuts to a man spilling a beer. Similarly, the announcer proclaims he should use Lagos paper towels to clean up the mess.
The WandaVision commercial ends with a Lagos paper towel effortlessly wiping up a mess. The announcer reveals the products slogan – “Lagos. For when you make a mess you didn’t mean to.”
Lagos is a refernce to the Nigerian city where Wanda tried to stop Crossbones from detonating a bomb in the opening of Captain America: Civil War. The scene was memorable because Wanda accidentally “created a mess she didn’t mean to” by diverting the explosion toward a nearby building and killing several civilians in the process. As a result, Wanda was imprisoned at Avenger’s headquarters after the UN was given oversight over the Avengers according to the newly indroduced Sokovia Accords. Vision was her jailer.
Ultimately the unfortunate act had a domino effect. It led to Wanda leaving the Avengers and Vision getting killed by Thanos. The products slogan sums up the entire event: “For when you make a mess you didn’t mean to.”
Similar to the misplaced mixed family in the previous commercial, this commercial shows a man doing housework, an untraditional gender role for the time period. Clearly something is slightly askew in the commercials that Wanda is creating.
The Yo-Magic Yogurt WandaVision commercial featured in episode 6 is clearly the most bizarre commercial of the series. In a 1990’s era Claymation-type commercial, we see a boy trapped on a small, deserted island. He says, “I’m so hungry I’d eat anything.” Suddenly a cool shark appears riding a surfboard and offers the boy a Yo-Magic yogurt. The shark swims away to “hang fin” while the boy struggles to open the yogurt’s top. The Claymation runs through a time-lapse sequence where we watch the boy decay into dried-up skin and finally a lifeless skeleton all the while struggling to open the yogurt lid.
“Yo-Magic — the snack for survivors!”
Oddly, Yo-Magic is a real product – an in-home Yogurt make, but the product presented here symbolizes Wanda’s magic gone out of control and the devastating impact it will produce if she is unable to control it. On the other hand, what would the world be like if Wanda could never access her magical abilities?
Episode 7 gave us another bizarre commercial – an antidepressant named Nexus. After a lengthy number of reveals during the episode, a commercial begins with a woman sitting alone on a park bench. The announcer asks,
“Feeling depressed? Like the world goes on without you? Do you just want to be left alone? Ask your doctor about nexus, a unique antidepressant that works to anchor you back to your reality – or the reality of your choice.”
We are shown the box which reveals the medicine’s ingredient and concentration: Nexulpromocide 10.3%.
The woman arrives at the pharmacy while the announcer sneaks in the potential side effects from the medicine: “Feeling your feelings, confronting your truth, seizing your destiny, and possibly more depression.”
The announcer warns us, “You should not take Nexus unless your doctor has cleared you to move on with your life.”
The woman leaves the pharacmy and a drab, gray world lights up with color. The announcer concludes:
“Nexus. Because the world doesn’t revolve around you. Or does it?”
This WandaVision commercial summarizes Wanda’s plight with a subtle hint at what is to come. In the Marvel Universe, a Nexus is the weakest point between alternate universes. One is known to exist in a Florida swamp and presumably one exists in Westview, New Jersey, manipulated by a “Nexus being”, Wanda. The commercial is pleading with Wanda to end the madness.
Interestingly, the mention of a Nexus, a gateway into an alternate universe, sets up the Marvel Universe for its next phases. We known WandaVision ties into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and clearly we are to be introduced to the concept of a Nexus and alternated universes in the upcoming storylines. This single commercial sets up the future nicely.
Another subtle reveal in the commercial derives from the product’s colors – red and gold. Red and gold are the distinctive colors of Iron Man’s suit. Tony Stark/Iron Man, as portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., died Avenger: Endgame.