I loved the first two episodes of WandaVision and cannot wait to see where this goes over the 9 episodes and shall enjoy speculating the details behind their TV-based world. WandaVision is a wonderful mix of sitcom pastiche and “Mystery Box” storytelling. And unlike many “MysteryBox” I’m damned sure we’ll get answers. Ones, I presume, will help set up whatever will happen during Phase 4 of the MCU.
Wanda “Scarlet Witch” Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision “Flying Magic Toaster” Vision (Paul Bettany) are two of the most powerful characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, so they are often sidelined as not to just END things almost immediately. While we don’t see much of their direct POWER in the show as of yet, we do get spend time with them as characters and interact with their power-sets a little more subtly. This is wonderful, especially as Wanda’s powers are a little more in line with her in-comic self. It’s a little shifty and undefined of what she can do in the movies, mind control and telekinesis mainly, compared to the “can literally rebuild the world on a whim” of the source comics. There are rumors pointing at a House of M use for her in Phase 4, but that’s speculating. I’m moving on.
But I will say, as excited as I am for this show, it’s even more so for my wife. Scarlet Witch is her all time favorite. She has a Scarlet Witch & Quicksilver tattoo. She was dressed as Wanda when I proposed. The show premiered on our 4-year wedding anniversary, so it’ s a gift to her from Disney+!
WandaVision has only released the first two episodes so far, and man do they work. The gist: Wanda and Vision move into a neighborhood as newlyweds and it starts in the style of 50s sitcoms, but something feels off-kilter to the relality presented to the viewer, and often to the people in it – the pair included. They navigate sitcom tropes while figuring out who the hell they are, and reacting when things begin to get surreal for a couple of moments. So we have a few layers of character to peel here: are the characters genuine, playing a part, a mixture, or something else entirely?
So much of it works in recreating the sitcoms of the eras we’ve seen before. It’s obvious how much the team behind the show put into truly getting the 50s and 60s eras (what we’ve seen so far; the trailers show us the later episodes slide into other decades). Not just the trope plot details, but in all aspects. The production design and the score are spot-on. They even consulted with Dick Van Dyke! But what really makes it work on this end of the show is the cinematography and the B/W use (to the point where the film stock gets better as the two episodes run; 50s B/W looks different than 60s B/W). The rules and limitations of cameras and sets of the time aren’t broken unless the reality also begins to break. The creative team really get the look, feel, dialogue, and style of the eras. Let’s go back a second – Cinematography is the unsung hero of making a film or show work or not, and this show is a perfect example of that.
I appreciate not going too deep into this at the start, letting it creep. I’ve seen a lot of love for the show, but nearly as much of folks saying “it’s too slow” because they want those reveals and possible action beats now. But for me? I’m digging a slow descent into Lynchian surreal nightmares. I love it bubbling under the surface and only coming out here and there.
On top of that, the show is legitimately funny. Maybe because I grew up watching Nick at Nite and have an honest appreciation of the sincere, cornball sitcoms of that era. I wonder if those without that background will be as connected. Olsen and Bettany have great comic chops. Katheryn Hahn, as she is want to do, steals her scenes as the neighbor Agnes. Good to see Emma Caulfield in the 2nd episode! Fred Meleman as Mr. Hart is absolutely perfect as a sitcom boss.
There is amazing potential here in both the “what the hell is happening” and deconstructing sitcoms. I can’t wait to spend more time with Wanda, Vision, Agnes, and everyone else in this world. While there is a certain sameness to a lot of MCU they’ve also taken risks of odd-ball stories along the way. WandaVision might be the oddest of the oddballs.