Julien Neaves, Editor
Warning: This article is dark and full of SPOILERS
WandaVision, the first of the Marvel Cinematic Universe Disney+ series, premiered with two episodes on Friday. And fan reaction has been mixed, to say the least. Actually it was like MCU fans saw DCEU fans fighting over Wonder Woman 1984 and told them to collectively hold their beers.
The series features powerful Avenger Wanda Maximoff aka Scarlet Witch and android Avenger Vision living as a suburban couple in the sitcom-inspired town of Westview. But wait Julien! Didn’t Vision die in Avengers: Infinity War?! Well, dear reader, Vision’s apparent resurrection is only one of the many mysteries in this kooky show. But let’s dive into it, and discuss why it has sparked a mini civil war among the MCU fanbase.
First let me address the people who hate the show. Hi everyone! Now I get where you guys are coming from. When you tuned into this MCU show you were looking forward to, well, an MCU show. You were expecting some sweet superhero action with a little comedy thrown in. You were likely not expecting an extremely weird 50s/60s sitcom starring two Avengers that is an odd mix of Bewitched, an episode of the Twilight Zone and just a teaspoon of Pleasantville thrown in for good measure. So it is understandable if it left some viewers jarred and/or dissatisfied.
The first thing I will say to you unhappy folks is that the trailer was very odd, so we kind of knew they were coming with something offbeat. Secondly, this is just the first two episodes so let’s give them some leeway to establish the world and set the stage. Heck, Agents of SHIELD didn’t really pick up steam until the second half of the first season. Finally, this is just one of 11 Marvel Studios series to be released over a two to three period, so we can’t (or shouldn’t) expect every show to be a series-long MCU movie. Marvel Studios will have to mix things up otherwise things will get very repetitive very quickly. And say what you will about the first couple of episodes (and several of you have already) but no one can deny the uniqueness of it.
With that out of the way let’s talk about the show itself. One thing I give them props for is the commitment to detail. The costuming, production design and even the camera work match the aesthetics of the 50s in the first episode and the 60s in the second. And the show is a treasure trove of in-jokes and Easter eggs both for these old sitcoms and the MCU at large. The miscommunication and ruined dinner in the first episode is a typical 50s sitcom trope, though I can understand how it may have flown over the heads of younger viewers. And as a sitcom the show is actually pretty funny in an intentionally campy sort of way. You just have to roll with it. And the show will be doing some decade-jumping in the following episodes so you young-uns can look forward to increasingly familiar TV territory.
Huge props must go to be Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as Wanda and Vision respectively. Olsen is luminous in these old school outfits and her comedic timing is impeccable. Bettany also does well as the goofy straight man, and the second episode where his inner workings were gummed up featured a very entertaining performance. And the unconventional duo possess a very warm and natural chemistry which makes for a relaxing viewing experience. We only had brief glimpses of their romance in the movies so it was pleasant to see them enjoying domestic bliss.
But the real question of WandaVision is WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON? Where are they? How is Vision alive? Who is the voice on the radio? Who is Agnes, really? Who was the creepy beekeeper with the flies? What’s going to happen with Wanda’s pregnancy? Will we ever get to see Ralph? Where can I buy that sweet Strucker watch?! Questions upon questions, and the internet has been abuzz with theory crafting.
I think one safe bet is that Wanda knows more about this world than she is letting on. The Twilight Zone-esque sequence where Mr Hart was choking and she had to convince Vision to save him is one example. Vision may have subconsciously realised that Mr Hart was not real hence his lack of urgency, but Wanda needed him saved to maintain the illusion. And the second, and stronger example, was when she rewound time near the end of the second episode. I agree with most folks that she used her comic-book reality altering powers to create this world, but I also believe some malevolent force influenced her to do it for some dark purpose.
So nuff respect to Marvel Studios for taking a big risk right out of the gate instead of playing it safe. And, while I wasn’t blown away by the first couple of WandaVision episodes, I did enjoy them and, more importantly, I have been hooked by the multitude of mysteries presented. And whether people love it or hate it, everyone and their grandma is going to be tuned in for Episode 3.
Julien’s Score: 8 out of 10
Julien “Jules” Neaves is a TARDIS-flying, Force-using Trekkie whose bedroom stories were by Freddy Krueger, learned to be a superhero from Marvel, but dreams of being Batman. I love promoting Caribbean film (Cariwood), creating board games and I am an aspiring author. I say things like “12 flavours of awesome sauce”.
I can also be found posting on Instagram as redmanwriter and talking about TV and movie stuff on Facebook at Movieville.