Warning: This post contains spoilers for WandaVision episode 8.
WandaVision episode 8 includes the debut of a brand new white Vision as part of the revelation of S.W.O.R.D.’s plans for Vision’s corpse after Avengers: Infinity War. The character may be brand new to the MCU, but was part of the Avengers: West Coast team thanks to an important arc that appears to be the img of at least part of WandaVision‘s story: John Byrne’s Vision Quest. But the key question is why Vision was white in the comics and what that means for the Disney+ show.
WandaVision episode 5 included the first hint of S.W.O.R.D.’s true plan for Vision, confirming that Scarlet Witch broke into a top-secret S.W.O.R.D. facility and stole the corpse of the Vision — supposedly violating Vision’s living will and Section 36-B of the Sokovia Accords. The mystery of the gap from her rescuing her dead soul mate to his reanimation in Westview had been a carefully constructed one, designed to feed into the suspicions around Acting Director Hayward and Project Cataract without being specific enough to reveal the truth. That truth, revealed explosively in episode 8 was that Cataract was always an allusion to Vision, which is clearly why the name was chosen, and it was S.W.O.R.D. who violated Vision’s living will.
The striking white design of the “new” S.W.O.R.D. Vision is both a reference to Byrne’s 1989 comics arc, Vision Quest, and also to the established logic of the MCU’s design decisions. In the comics, Vision loses his color thanks to being disassembled by a multi-national task force led by Cameron Brock that deactivated and dismantled him in response to him taking over America’s nuclear arms. In a moment recaptured by WandaVision‘s fifth episode flashback, when Scarlet Witch found her missing husband, he was chillingly dismembered, though Hank Pym was able to rebuild him. The cost of that revival was Vision’s humanity, which had been originally introduced when Ultron created him using the brain patterns of the then-deceased Simon Williams (AKA Wonder Man). Though Pym was able to bring him back, Vision returned as a colorless, emotionless android, his skin damaged irreparably by the experiments that ripped him apart.
The parallels between the Vision Quest arc and what’s happened with S.W.O.R.D. and Vision’s corpse in WandaVision are impossible to ignore. The idea of an agency mistrusting superheroes and recognizing the specific threat – and value – of Vision, coupled with his dismantling obviously stands out, but so too does the idea that bringing him back couldn’t quite restore everything that was lost, as Wanda’s sight of his reanimated corpse proved. Ultimately, that decision is arguably even more tragic for Wanda than bringing Vision back as the white, emotionless shadow who wouldn’t have fit with Wanda’s fake reality. The fact that she was given the opportunity of Vision’s return from death with the haunting caveat that he will probably be lost again is even more heartbreaking.
In MCU terms specifically, Vision’s colors are already tied to his vitality. When Wanda and then Thanos kill him at the end of Infinity War, the synthezoid fades to a deathly grey confirming his color is a choice. That makes sense in terms of the logic of his creation, because Dr. Helen Cho’s Regeneration Chamber gifted Vision a synthetic flesh made also using vibranium that allows his phasing powers. The color element wasn’t added by Cho’s process, but was an early extension of Vision’s individuality. When he died, his essence faded and the husk of his body remained, colorless and cold, which ultimately is what Wanda saw when she saw Vision’s reanimated corpse earlier in the season. The white version from the comics is a stark reminder in WandaVision of what made Vision more than just an android.