Not long ago, I read about a writer who lamented that one of the worst things to happen in 2020 was the lack of a Marvel Studios’ movie to go see in a theater. While a few other things that I would consider to be worse come to mind, I sort of understand where he is coming from. I miss those Avengers! Yes, New Mutants snuck in 2020 (and from what I hear isn’t worth watching) but it isn’t part of the Iron-Man/Thor/Black Panther MCU that we all have become obsessed with since 2008). Now that 2021 is here, this universe is changing with new scripted TV series shown exclusively on Disney+. The first big project is WandaVision and boy is it weird. But in a good way.
Ever since Marvel Studios first made the announcement for the new show, they have been coy about it. They have described it as “a blend of classic television and the MarvelCinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff and Vision—two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives—begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.”
Disney+ aired the first two episodes of the show on January 15 and it is one of the most unique TV productions out there. If you haven’t followed many of The Avengers movies, then this show is not for you. (It looks as if Disney had hoped to bridge that gap be providing two five-minute long mini documentaries about the two lovebirds on the streaming service, but I don’t recommend them. The new Legends series only shows a number of movie clips featuring the characters without really explaining much about the two characters.)
Neither Wanda (aka Scarlett Witch) nor Vision (the almost-human robot) are counted as fans’ most-favorite characters, but that might change. From watching the first two episodes, WandaVision you get a sense that the show is more of a tribute to classic sitcoms that it is a superhero show, but I suspect that will change more and more as show goes on. The first episode has a similar look and feel of The Dick Van Dyke Show complete with similar living room and kitchen set up. Wanda and Vision are happily married living the ideal suburban life though neither one can remember when they got married now when they moved into their black-and-white neighborhood.
The 1950’s-looking episode plays as its own show with it’s own opening credits (written by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez who wrote the music for both Frozen movies) and a “commercial” from Stark Industries. Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) is the happy homemaker and Vision (Paul Bettany) works at “the office” in downtown. Kathryn Hahn appears as the nosy, yet helpful next-door neighbor Agnes. The story centers around the couple hosting a dinner party for Vision’s boss and the weirdness that happens there. The show actually comes to a sudden stop with a “what the heck” moment before resuming as it was.
The second episode, still in black-and-white, jumps a decade. The couple’s home looks more like the set from Bewitched now, but the couple don’t seem to notice. Vision and Wanda have signed up to perform as a magician and his assistant for a fund-raising talent show for their neighborhood and more weirdness is thrown in. By the end of the episode, the screen has turned to color. To explain more will just take away the surprise of it all. Marvel promises that everything in the show-within-a-show has a purpose and will all come together rather quickly.
Matt Shakman directed all nine episodes which includes characters like Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) who appeared in Captain Marvel, Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) from Ant-Man and The Wasp and Darcy (Kat Dennings) from Thor and Thor: The Dark World. It plays out like a movie, but in longer form.
With two episodes under your belt you’ll walk away with more questions than answers. What happened to the Russian-born witch’s accent? Is Agnes really a good neighbor or is their something more sinister at hand? And how is it that Vision is now alive and well?
So far, I’m in love with the show. It’s creative and just weird enough to keep your attention wanting more. It’s a celebration of goofy TV and I rather like this side of these Marvel characters. Olsen is particularly good as a sitcom star from yesteryear.
New episodes of WandaVision are added each Friday on Disney+.
(Main Image: Disney+)
I write about pop culture, arts and entertainment in the greater Seattle area.