I’m not an advocate for comic book movies and TV shows, especially Marvel ones. While they are entertaining, they can be a bit empty and have become bland over time. I had planned not to see another Marvel property after Avengers Endgamebut then it came WandaVision. I was intrigued.
For those familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the show’s premise and first few episodes feel like a major change. Marvel has devoted entire films to telling the origin story of a particular character, but it opens WandaVision dropping two Avengers in a strange place and the wrong decade without explanation. The movies take the superheroes on missions to dark corners of outer space, but the show is limited to a small town in New Jersey.
Movies are action movies full of explosions and battles. But in WandaVisionIn the first episode, viewers enjoy a 1950s sitcom starring Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). Hope for? Wanda, a sorceress with superpowers, and Vision, an AI android whose body is made of vibranium, arrived at the MCU in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Later they fell in love. But (spoiler alert!) Vision died in EndgameSo what are you doing alive and well in the 1950s with Wanda and a boring desk job?
At first, it seems that even Wanda and Vision aren’t quite sure. They fail in polite talk when dinner guests ask benign questions about their past. They know they are different: Wanda cheekily signals Vision to transform from her android self into a human as she walks out the door, and we see that even superpowers can’t help her in the kitchen, but the first few episodes don’t feature any. context such as why they live in a small town, in the past, or why time keeps skipping.
The second episode takes place in the 1960s, and as time progresses, the illusion begins to waver. In her grief, Wanda, in ways she doesn’t understand, has brought Vision back to life and transformed a small New Jersey town into an idyllic sitcom setting where they can play house. But the viewer begins to understand that there is more to the series: strange objects and people appear, and we learn how closed the city of Westview is.
This is perhaps the most mature entry in the MCU canon, with Wanda’s grief and Wanda and Vision’s domestic life as the focus of the show, while some vague and recurring mysteries eventually become a full-blown mystery. . The show removes the typical trappings of a superhero movie, even avoiding a cut and dry squad of heroes and villains – viewers don’t learn the identity of the “big bad” until the seventh episode of all nine episodes. season. And while we’re destined to find a sympathetic Wanda, she’s clearly no longer a hero: she somehow hijacked an entire city and is forcibly controlling the minds of its residents to make them follow her fantasy.
While the show is entertaining and even compelling at times, it still ushers in the construction of the corporate world that the MCU has come to define. There’s a ton of fan service and nods to the comics and, especially in the later episodes, the show’s focus on its own story drifts.
There has been much discussion about the “implications” of various creative decisions about the program, which serves to configure the Dr strange Sequel: How a casting decision offers a glimpse into the Marvel multiverse, how a character seemingly gaining superpowers could be a prelude to his own possible movies, how the focus on magic could mean Marvel’s magical properties will join the MCU, how a subtle retcon is setting up the X-Men. WandaVision not allowed to be a property in and of itself, it has yet to be linked and pave the way for other Marvel properties.
While WandaVision manages to be an intriguing show, it’s also deeply frustrating. It serves as a subtle reminder that pop culture may be more than what we’ve experienced in recent years, and a not-so-subtle reminder of how franchise building can pervert the art of cinema. If this had been a stand-alone show, where the writers weren’t constrained by the MCU’s past and forced to plan for their future, how would the show have been different? It is a testament to the strength of the creative team members behind WandaVision that make the show work as well as it does, even with Disney forcing them into a creative corner. I suspect that with more freedom the show would have been even better.
WandaVision shows that audiences can and do appreciate the complexity of what they watch, that they don’t need big shows and gaps CGI fight scenes to keep the investment. Perhaps hopefully, studios will begin to realize that depth can be appreciated without a superhero look.