SPOILERS ahead if still have not watched the first two episodes of WandaVision.
Guess how many days? Since the opening of Spider-Man: Far From Home in 2019, it’s been more than 500 days since Marvel Studios released significant content following the events of Avengers: Endgame. This is partly due to the ‘oh so glorious’ pandemic which has put a halt on Marvel and Disney’s plans, seeing the delay of both Black Widow and Eternals on the big screen and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier on the small screen. As we are still awaiting the release of those movies, Marvel made the now popular decision to focus on streaming and home entertainment by delivering WandaVision first. It was highly anticipated and it’s finally here, the first two episodes premiered yesterday on Disney+ and reuniting two Avengers: Wanda and Vision.
The whole story behind this first live-action series effort for Marvel Studios was always a mystery…and still is after viewing the first two episodes of WandaVIsion. As we understand it, this ‘fantasy’ takes place after the events of Avengers: Endgame. As we sadly remember, during the final battle of Avengers: Infinity War (2018), Vision (Paul Bettany) was killed by Thanos for the Mind Stone located on his head, leaving Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) grieving for her dead lover. Of course, all of this was before the famous ‘snap’ that decimated half of humanity. After Endgame, when Tony Stark sacrificed himself to beat Thanos and his army, Wanda was left alone, still suffering. Now, without warning, we find the couple playing newlyweds in a 1950s American suburbia, in the entertainment format of a television sitcom. Wanda plays the charming and serviceable home wife, chatting and gossiping with her nosy neighbour, as Vision is now a sheep in the male office pool of America as an employee of a computing firm. Together, they’ll try to make themselves at home and act normal in the neighbourhood, hiding their powers outside of their home…or do they?
WandaVision’s first two episodes really focus on them settling in and interacting with the community, which includes Vision’s boss and his wife, their neighbours as well as the neighbourhood watch. As everything takes place in the 1950s, the entire two episodes were shot in black and white in front of a live studio audience, and the screen format shrinks to the now-dated 4:3 aspect ratio. The past events in the MCU universe are never mentioned and everything is played out as a childish gag. However, we start to notice the irregularities of their situation as the final seconds of the episodes take place in the ‘real’ world, in technicolour, where some sort of organization behind a strange sword symbol is watching the show on television. As Wanda is also able to fast-forward or rewind events that seem unpredictable in the sitcoms, we understand that she has some sort of power over this reality. That’s it…that’s all we got.
Although nothing is clear on what happens, Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olson are in prime shape, showing great chemistry with plenty of cute romance (no tragedy whatsoever here). The show also uses a nice mix of comedy and charm to make us like their characters again. Personally, I never was a big fan of the Vision character, or at least how he was handled in the Marvel universe so far, but Paul Bettany has a lot more screentime in WandaVision to make his character more clear. As the black and white tone is consistent for 95% of the whole two episodes, the cinematography does not feel as grand as usual, so we can mainly focus on the story and the characters. The humour and catchy lines of the original movies are present here, but the whole ambiance feels like less.
Due to the 30 minute episodic format, this is Marvel material seriously lacking in…action. Of course, we know that’s the purpose, there so much exposition to deliver before that. However, it does feel a little weird to have the first MCU series with little or zero action, with simply an hommage to 1950s-1960s sitcoms (think of I Married Joan and I Love Lucy), where gags are the only tools available to keep us in play until the end. This is definitely the case here, which is why we are taken by surprise here. Fun fact, at 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, it seems that WandaVision is the highest rated MCU film or series so far! Incredible…
In a nutshell, I guess we’ll have to wait for more episodes to drop on Disney+ before delivering a consistent review of the show. The producers, namely Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the MCU movies starting back with Iron Man (2008), did a good job of blurring the context of the weird fantasy that is WandaVision…leaving us asking for more. However, since the content matter is SO different from what we are used to in the Marvel universe, many fans (myself included) will definitely find themselves a little unsatisfied. Everything feels so odd, we have so many questions, no answers are yet available and this is an unusual dynamic for Marvel material.
Whatever the premise, it’s good to have some of our heroes back.
So, Wanda, tells us what this fantasy is all about, please!!