WandaVision’s villain Hayward and his contempt for superhumans resembles that of a certain enemy of the X-Men who hates mutants.
WARNING: The following contains spoilers for WandaVision Episode 6, “New Halloween Spooktacular!”, Now Airing on Disney +.
Behind the scenes of Wanda’s Happy Halloween, SWORD director Hayward is doing his best to become Monica Rambeau’s personal bogeyman. His aggressive demeanor improves another notch this week with his virulent anti-superhuman sentiments. It’s not a leap for Monica and her new friends, Dr. Lewis and Agent Woo, to realize that something else is going on here. While answers have to wait for another time, there is an unsettling familiarity to Hayward’s demeanor. It’s starting to behave like a classic X Men bad, William Stryker.
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Stryker was a major enemy during the Fox course X Men franchise, introduced in X2 as a military man willing to use his own mutant son as a guinea pig in his plans to control and eradicate mutants. His five movie appearances were a clever elaboration of the role he had in the comics. Writer Chris Claremont and Brent Anderson featured the equally ruthless Reverend Stryker as part of the 1982 seminal X Men: God loves, man kills story, assembling a secret paramilitary force to hunt mutants. The movies changed Stryker from fanatic to militant, but his hatred for mutants remained the same.
Hayward’s aggression towards Wanda and the potential threat it could pose turned into open bile this week, and she had no problem turning on her old friend, Monica. Using the Blip as an excuse, he spat at her and her family’s friendship with the superhuman Carol Danvers, eventually invoking the charged phrase “you” right in Monica’s face. He expels both Rambeau and his new allies from the project, though they quickly regroup to discover what he is clearly hiding.
It doesn’t take long for Dr. Lewis to discover that Hayward has some troubling things buried in SWORD’s on-site systems and that he is lying about his access to the interior of the Westview Hex. In addition to what Cataract’s secret file may reveal, Darcy realizes the depth of Hayward’s fixation on Vision. He’s running a tracer inside the Hex based on vibranium, an important part of the synthzoid’s body that he didn’t mention that SWORD was actively dissecting in the lab. It seems clear that he wants Vision to come back, to hell with the rest. The answer to why might lie in that comparison to Stryker.
While Stryker was not the founder of the Sentinel program in comics or movies, he was an ally of inventor Bolivar Trask during the 2014s. X-Men: Days of Future Past. The Sentinels themselves are a dark mirror of Stark’s original concept for Project Ultron. Instead of a shield around the world against threats beyond, the Sentinels turned inward, protecting “normal” humans from the mutant scourge. Hayward’s obsession with Vision and the angry and increasingly isolated worldview he has cultivated since Thanos’ assault is an unmistakable parallel.
The X-Men will surely return to the MCU. When it happens, the franchise is not likely to want to use Stryker one more time. But the awesome and terrifying Sentinels are a concept that didn’t last as long as fans would have liked. Hayward, rather than retreading previous movies, is the perfect choice to abuse Project Ultron. In fact, his goal could be to twist Vision’s abilities and Stark’s vision inward, much like Stryker and Trask, transforming the stolen Syntezoid technology into a new origin story for the rise of the Sentinels.
Written by Jac Schaeffer and directed by Matt Shakman, WandaVision stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch, Paul Bettany as Vision, Randall Park as Agent Jimmy Woo, Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis, Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau and Kathryn Hahn like Agnes. New episodes airing Fridays on Disney +.
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