Television

Vision Is Hot Now

One of WandaVision’s greatest achievements is giving us the Paul Bettany we deserve.

His skin is cherry red, with odd chrome highlights, beneath a cardigan and tie
Vision, deprived of his hotness, and Wanda Maximoff. Marvel Studios

In my memories of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the character of Vision has mostly been a cipher. Even in Avengers: Age of Ultron, in which he plays a decisive role, he’s more a ruddy-faced plot device than anything else—an almost literal deus ex machina. His contributions to the movies after that (right up to the moment Thanos plucks the Mind Stone from his metal head) feel like an afterthought, and his relationship with Wanda Maximoff is one of the least developed aspects of the entire franchise. Their relationship arc consists of “They meet. Now they are together.” (Though there was that period when he held her prisoner.) The new Marvel series WandaVision, however, finally gives us the hero we deserve. Not just because Vision is finally in the spotlight, but because, in WandaVision, Vision is finally hot.

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The fact of the matter is that Vision’s maroon complexion doesn’t do anything for the actor beneath the surface. Vision’s frankly “Bodies: The Exhibition”-esque suit is less distinct even than the Maximoff twins’ Hot Topic aesthetic or War Machine’s “Iron Man but without the colors” duds. Though WandaVision doesn’t totally forgo Vision’s usual shiny burgundy visage, chrome widows’ peak, and soul patch, the series finds Vision trying to blend in with suburbia by putting on an attractive disguise: the unvarnished face of Paul Bettany.

Bettany, restored to having such admirable features as hair, eyebrows, and skin, looks great, and especially in the retro outfits that lend WandaVision a lot of its pop. He looks like a bit of a dad, sure, and the dopey sitcom kind at that, but that’s part of his appeal—the new Vision, a robot with more room to explore the ups and downs of being humanoid, is channeling a kind of himbo energy that feels like a geekier alternative to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor. It’s a perfect combination of the hunkiness Bettany delivered in Wimbledon and A Knight’s Tale and the nerdier allure he exhibited in Master and Commander. His looks in WandaVision’s second episode sum up Vision’s newfound appeal perfectly: In the episode’s first half, he’s Mr. Rogers, but sexy, and in the second, the hit-and-miss appeal of a magician’s top hat and tailcoat is offset by the fun of watching him get sozzled on chewing gum.

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a man in glasses and a cardigan
Vision, hot. Marvel Studios

It would be easy to draw a cheesy parallel here and say that the rise in Vision’s hotness is directly tied to Marvel’s increasing willingness to color outside of its usual lines, but that’s a stretch. This is a happenstance aesthetic upgrade. That said, it’s still an upgrade, and one that allows Bettany to be more expressive in an expanded role. Admittedly, Vision has been “human” before, for a brief stint in Infinity War, but this is the first Marvel property to really capitalize on non-red Bettany in a meaningful way. The degree of his paleness, the sharpness of his features, and the blueness of his eyes has always (to me, at least) suggested the possibility of breaking into tears at any moment—an appeal not entirely divorced from the “sick Victorian boy” brand of hot embodied by Timothée Chalamet, but with more muscle on the bones and experience written in the lines of the face. That this look also happens to be an apt fit for the part of a dead robot brought back to life in a yet-unexplained hallucination? Icing on the cake.

Given Vision’s fate, WandaVision may be the last time we hear from him. However, if he does manage another resurrection, here’s hoping that the magenta is no more. Vision is hot now. You wouldn’t take that away from an android only just learning to cope with human feelings, would you?

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