Disclaimer: The opinions stated in this article do not necessarily reflect those of the blog and its other writers, so please take the author’s ideas with a grain of salt and a tasty cup of Yo Magic! Yoghurt.
Picture this: You are sat in a theatre packed to the galleries with vibrant Marvel fans of all varieties, collectively eagerly awaiting the screening of Avengers: Endgame (2019). Eyes widen and cheers soar as the film launches the hearts of every person in the audience to the moon and beyond, captivating and spectacular in its delivery. “Wow,” you think to yourself, “How could Marvel ever top this?”
Around the same time of the release of Marvel Studios’ finale to Phase 3 of the MCU, the big man Kevin Feige himself announced several Disney+ television shows slated to take place after Endgame’s conclusion. One of these shows stood out amongst the others, curiously titled “WandaVision” and announced to be a sitcom, something Marvel had never done before. If you were me, your reaction might have been something similar to, “Huh, neat.” And that’s it. The idea of a slice-of-life Marvel sitcom featuring two characters whose relationship had previously come across as surface-level at best was simply “Neat” at best. “This is how they were following up Endgame?” we thought.
However, it turned out that no one was expecting what WandaVision was going to bring to the table, in more ways than one. Curiously, as the show went on, that expectation (or lack thereof) shot to the moon and beyond as well, affecting how fans envisioned what course it would take episode by episode, in real time. Comments sections and discussion threads around the world had only one thought in mind, “This HAS to top Endgame now!” Did this happen to benefit WandaVision, or did it hinder audiences from appreciating the show for what it truly was?
WandaVision (2021) is a harmless suburban sitcom starring Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and The Vision (Paul Bettany), a husband and wife living the perfect life in the small town of Westview, meeting friends and wacky hijinks along the way.
Or is it?
Wanda Heck Was That?
WandaVision, in a word, is a pioneer. The show brought numerous things previously unheard of in the MCU beyond the formulaic sitcom shenanigans. Unnerving eeriness permeates the series’ first half, alluding to the slowly unraveling realization that something, someone, somewhere, just isn’t right. With a plot so shrouded in deep intrigue, you can expect to be glued to your seat, clenching your bowl of popcorn and forgetting to eat it in the first place. I jokingly told my editor that this would be the closest thing we’d get to a television show based on the SCP Foundation, but I realize that this is more true than we first thought. If you love the cold grip of mysteries surrounding anomalies that violate natural law, this show is for you.
As someone who did not grow up on many sitcoms, no matter what year they came from, I can’t speak on the sitcom parody elements of the show with first-hand experience. Despite this, they definitely felt richly authentic. Each and every era of sitcom that WandaVision portrays feels like it was ripped straight from years prior, with special attention and care given to everything from the VFX to the music. Never before have we seen something so fresh and exciting in the MCU.
But, most importantly, there are the characters. Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany never really got the chance to let loose and flex their acting range, but WandaVision’s exceptional characterization and portrayal of the titular characters allowed for stellar performances all across the board. I had previously not cared for Wanda all that much, and I thought that Vision was cool but bland as concrete, but the series grabbed hold of my heartstrings and wound them securely around the main duo. Every episode leaves you hungry for more.
To Each Their Own Vision
Caution: The following section is free of explicit spoilers, but contains implications and inferences that may spoil you by process of elimination. If you want to watch the series fully blind, skip to the Final Thoughts section of this review.
Of course, being an entry in the MCU, WandaVision had a healthy serving of Marvel-related fanservice, topped with worldbuilding, sequel setup, hype for characters, and moments that allude to something bigger. With a show so strongly driven by emotionally charged character interactions, many were quick to latch onto these moments and expect the series to do the same as Endgame—launch their hearts to the moon and beyond, then drop reveals and cameos harder than Thanos dropped the moon on Tony Stark.
As a result of WandaVision being loaded chock-full of potential hints, coupled with the knowledge of the movies yet to be released (such as Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four, and others), I and many other fans watched every episode with the expectation for bigger and bigger reveals, vision-casting what big comic book names we’d like to see before the finale. We simply expected too much from this small-scale show. In hindsight, had WandaVision done what we wanted, these reveals would have taken away from the series’ focus. This is a story about Wanda and Vision and the repercussions of their actions, be they internal or external struggles.
Having said that, though, there was one reveal in the show that disappointed many, regardless of expectations. A whale of a setup with a minnow of payoff.
WandaVision is a unique experience, the most unique experience in the MCU so far. How you choose to consume and process that experience may heavily dictate your enjoyment of the show as a whole. Should you choose to anticipate either a banger of an action show that aims to top Endgame, or a psychological thriller that commits to its setting’s premise to the very end, you may find yourself disappointed. WandaVision sits squarely between these two extremes, amounting to something simultaneously surprising, yet samey of Marvel Studios.
However, if you decide to jump into the series to be swept along for the ride as it explores the titular characters and their relationship, you will find a heartily enjoyable time and five hours well-spent, as well as a newfound frustration upon seeing the words, “PLEASE STAND BY.”