Does White Vision dream of Philip K. Dick novels? In the series finale of WandaVision, there's a full buffet of Marvel Easter eggs big and small — but what you maybe didn't catch was a very pointed reference to the classic cyberpunk film, Blade Runner. Here's what you missed, and here's why it matters. WandaVision finale spoilers (and Blade Runner spolers) ahead.
In a pivotal scene toward the end of WandaVision Episode 9, "The Series Finale," the phrase "Tannhauser Gate" appears not once, but twice on the marquee of Westview's movie theater.
This is almost certainly a direct reference to the phrase "Tannhäuser Gate," which comes from a very famous monologue from Ridley Scott's 1982 sci-fi cult classic, Blade Runner. Although the name "Tannhäuser" refers to a little-known 13th-century poet, the phrase "Tannhauser Gate" comes exclusively from the film Blade Runner.
Toward the end of the film, the Nexus 6 Replicant Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) realizes he's about to die. He delivers a bizarre, show-stopping soliloquy that still rings throughout sci-fi cinema history. You probably know it. If you don't, it goes like this:
"I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain..."
These words don't appear in Philip K. Dick's novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book upon which Blade Runner was based. Notably, the "tears in the rain" speech, complete with the "Tannhäuser Gate," was slightly different on paper for Blade Runner than it was on screen.
During filming, actor Rutger Hauer cut much of the original monologue and only focused on the parts he found the most salient. He's also largely credited with coming up with the phrases "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe" and "tears in the rain" to describe the loss of the Replicant memories. In the book Future Noir: The Making of Blade Runner by Paul M. Sammon, Hauer noted that "David Peoples, the man who wrote that version of Batty's soliloquy, really did a beautiful job. I mean, I loved those images he came up with — 'c-beams glittering near the Tannhauser gate, attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.' I thought they were really interesting, even if you didn't understand them."
Since 1982, the Tannhäuser Gate became a pervasive geek meme. References to it occur in other works of science fiction, and even John Hodgman references it in his most recent work of non-fiction, the book Medallion Status.
But what the hell does it mean for WandaVision?
Like Roy Batty and the Replicants of Blade Runner, Vision — whichever version you prefer — is an artificial lifeform. In the WandaVision finale, when Vision and White Vision debate about the "Ship of Theseus," it's reminiscent of one of the central themes of Blade Runner. In Blade Runner, we learn that some of the Replicants were given the memories of other people, to make them believe they were human. Roy, on the other hand, alludes to "real" memories when he talks to Deckard about tears in the rain and the Tannhäuser Gate. To be clear, we have no idea what the Tannhäuser Gate is exactly, though the prevailing theory is that it's some kind of waystation for starships.
So, the implications for the future of Marvel are twofold. This Blade Runner reference seems to be an implication that Vision will return in some way, shape, or form, since, you know, his memories were not lost like tears in the rain. The White Vision retained those memories!
But, there's a second wrinkle here. When Roy was talking about the "things you people wouldn't believe" including the "Tannhäuser Gate," he was talking about some bonkers stuff he did in space.
In the mid-credits scene of the WandaVision finale, we see Monica Rambeau being recruited by a Skrull to presumably go and see Nick Fury, who we know is currently living in space, thanks to the ending of Spider-Man: Far From Home. Notably, this conversation happens inside the movie theater with "Tannhäuser Gate" on the marquee. Are Nick Fury and the Skrulls using this theater as a literal gateway to the stars? Food for thought, while we wait to see where Vision lands next.
WandaVision is streaming on Disney+. The original Blade Runner is streaming on HBO Max.