Review: WandaVision

Before I get started on this one, I have to explain one thing. My feelings about WandaVision are really all very positive. But I am a little annoyed with the powers-that-be in Marvel’s marketing & press department. Because as fascinating and well-produced as WandaVision is, and as intently as I watched each episode and eagerly tuned in for the next installment, when the final final credits rolled, I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of disappointment. Which isn’t fair to WandaVision, because it completely lives up to the premise it sets up: What’s behind the mysterious goings-on in the town of Westview and what does it have to do with Wanda & Vision? What had me let down was all the reports I’d read going into it promising me it was going to provide this big connection to future MCU movies which, other than building up Wanda as a character, I can’t see that it does.

All I can say is Marvel & Disney shouldn’t have bothered baiting the fandom to boost their views; WandaVision tells a compelling enough story to draw viewers in all on its own, regardless of whether it sets anything up for future Marvel movies or series.

First off, let’s talk production quality. Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are trapped in a sitcom-inspired world, with the first episode mirroring 1950s classics and each following episode jumping forward roughly a decade. The styling of each episode as we progress through each decade’s sitcom trappings, whether it’s The Dick Van Dyke Show, Bewitched, or Modern Family, is pitch perfect. The costuming and set dressing are not only period accurate, but often near-identical recreations. As the setting moves forward from the 1950s to present day, the adjustments in writing, filming, and acting styles all feel authentic without being jarring. We have little idea what’s going on in these scenes, especially in the early episodes, but we don’t really need to because the nostalgia is fun, and it’s bizarrely fascinating to watch two Avengers in a sitcom.

But underneath the sitcom hijinks and blockbuster action pieces, WandaVision is a character study, exploring Wanda Maximoff—her origins, her power, and her grief. She’s obviously going to be an important figure in the next phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so this serves the practical purpose of building up audience knowledge of her since she never got her own movie like Thor or Captain America, but rather than simply catching us up on backstory, WandaVision explores it by focusing on the depth of the trauma within it and builds a mystery around it; namely, how does one person repeatedly cope with that kind of loss? It’s a different scope and approach than anything Marvel has offered before, and I hope they continue to experiment with it.

Alongside the main plot, we also get a reintroduction to some familiar MCU faces. Kat Dennings is back as Darcy Lewis from the Thor franchise, now with her own Ph.D and tasked with helping S.W.O.R.D. figure out why the town of Westview has been isolated in this sitcom “hex,” Randall Park is back as F.B.I. agent Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Teyonah Parris is the now adult Monica Rambeau from Captain Marvel, and I would have gladly watched a whole second show just featuring their investigative team. I also appreciated how they worked Monica’s developing superpowers into the plot, giving her an origin story that isn’t centered around being an origin story, similar to the way Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced Quake/Daisy Johnson.

So, there is some groundwork laid for future MCU entries as far as characters go, but nothing overly specific at this point that was worth the reports of epic fallout. If you go into WandaVision ignoring that kind of hype, you’ll be fine; it’s a really interesting show with lots of fun Easter eggs to discover whether you’re an MCU fan or a fan of old sitcoms, but even if you’re not, it tells a really compelling story that’s more than capable of standing on its own.

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