Coming off of the end of phase three with Spider-Man: Far from Home the speculation for what is to come next in phase four was just beginning to boil. Marvel’s acquisition of Fox added fuel to the fire giving fans hope that we will get the coveted X-Men and the Fantastic Four in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, finally. But leave it to Kevin Feige to already have his phase four mapped out, which he has a five-year plan that will set the universe a blaze. All the promise is there – laid out right in front of us with a hybrid of feature films and limited series coming straight to Disney Plus.
Covid and the world had other plans – forcing the gears to shift, what was first to be released, Black Widow, has been delayed and pushed back due to theaters staying closed for the public’s safety. That’s where Wandavision comes into the spotlight. Falcon and the Winter Soldier was originally slated to be released right after Black Widow but filming being nearly completed was halted. Wandavision saw its opportunity, had a concrete release date and became the first phase four project to release to the world after a year with no MCU. There is an argument that superhero fatigue set in since 23 films came out in the span of eleven years. Having that break beyond anyone’s control only helped the MCU’s presence when the world is reintroduced to Marvel.
Wandavision is unlike any previous MCU project that has been released to date. Once the trailers dropped the vision (no pun intended, there will be a lot of these) was beyond anyone’s expectations. It’s a huge risk for Marvel to go against the assembly line formula established since the release of Iron Man but risks are necessary to keep things fresh and inspiring. Set three short weeks after the events of Avengers: Endgame and before the events of Spider-Man: Far from Home, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and her husband Vision (Paul Bettany) are living in New Jersey in the town Westview.
“I’m so tired. It’s just like this wave washing over me, again, and again. It knocks me down, and when I try to stand up, it just comes for me again. It’s just going to drown me.”
Initially it’s difficult to comprehend why Wandavision is set up like a sitcom through the decades but leave it to Marvel Studios to know exactly what they are doing. Episodes one and two start off with in the early eras of sitcom television in the 1950’s and 60’s. Both were released on the same day causing some confusion as to the direction the show was going. Wandavision does start off on a slower pace, but it’s the slow burn that pays off throughout the nine-episode arc. Through those nine episodes, every three represents an act of the storyline. The first three set up this world, the second three sets up the main conflict and the last three conclude it all. sprinkle in Everything sitcom related comes across authentic to that time period: the laugh track, the comedy and the multiple cameras transports the viewer into the black and white world.
We all know what happened to Wanda by the end of Avengers: Endgame, up to that point, her parents were killed by an explosion of her home by Stark technology, she lost her twin brother Pietro after the events in Sokovia (her home country) and had to 1 kill Vision to stop Thanos and 2 watch Thanos reverse time and kill him again to get the mind stone. That’s a lot of trauma to put a person through, especially in the more lighthearted and comedic Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wanda’s trauma isn’t sugarcoated, its handled with extreme care allowing for others to understand how she feels and why she is doing this to the town of Westview. She inadvertently pushes her trauma on the citizens creating nightmare scenario for every single person.
Wandavision’s foundation and backbone is all about the grief and trauma Wanda is tragically attempting to cope with. Every episode sprinkles in hints here and there of what is actually going on within this altered reality. So much so that theories begin popping up based on dialogue and speculation. As the season moves forward the brilliantly heartbreaking writing by Jac Schaeffer explores new ways to pile on the already mountainous grief Wanda is successfully (in her eyes) coping with. Introducing her and Vision’s twins Billy (Julian Hilliard), Tommy (Jett Klyne), the nosey neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and her brother (or is it) Pietro (Evan Peters) only adds more tape to the fractured spirit Wanda is desperately trying to hold together.
Wandavision’s risk pays off with every episode. Along with the exceptional understanding of these characters psychologies by Schaeffer, Elizabeth Olsen’s and Paul Bettany’s performances are beautiful and heartbreaking simultaneously. Their chemistry and screen presence together are some of the best in the MCU to date. Emotionally, they command the screen equally never one out doing the other. Director of the series Matt Shakman captures these beautiful and sincere moments allowing for the grief to be the center of attention. Difficult is an understatement when watching events from Wanda’s past play out.
“Oh, yes. Your children. And Vision, and this whole little life you’ve made. This is Chaos Magic, Wanda. And that makes you the Scarlet Witch.”
It’s the various moments between Wanda and Vision that make the grief and trauma stand out the most. You can’t help but feel bad for Wanda – feeling sympathetic towards her actions of just wanting to live a happy life with her love, the one who saved her from the endless waves of depression that keeps crashing into her.
As much as this is Wanda and Vision’s story, the side characters are just as compelling. What some may see as secondary characters that probably wouldn’t have a future, are given one in this universe. From Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) to Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) to Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), each character has their moment to shine including a superhero origin we never knew we needed until now. But the real standout among the supporting characters is Kathryn Hanh. She nearly without fail steals every scene she’s. Her comedic timing is unimaginably on point that only adds to the value of the series.
Wandavision explores so much of the traumatic past, present and hopeful future of Wanda Maximoff. She is finally revealed to be the Scarlett Witch using chaos magic who is more powerful than Dr. Strange. Events following the snap that brought back everyone utilizes the chaos everyone felt in episode four also showcases the budget for the show.
With the series finale (It was stated this would be a limited one season series) a lot of questions were answered but some new questions pop up that don’t fit the conclusive nature of a finale. Several key moments in the series are head scratchers but ultimately don’t take away from how breathtaking this show has been. What happens to White Vision? Why cast Evan Peters? What happens to the beekeeper? Who’s the missing person Jimmy was searching for? Granted, these are mere minor details to the overall story that may get answered in this supposed Multiverse of Madness trilogy. As much as Wanda uses sitcom’s to escape her reality, this show was a form of escapism for the world due to the current ongoing pandemic we are in.
Wandavision is a gigantic risk that successfully blew our expectations out of the water. Blending feelings of uncomfortable tones with moments of hope and happiness effortlessly, Elizabeth Olsen gives her soul to this character – she’s absolutely both beautiful and heartbreaking. Paul Bettany brings humanity to a synthetic character giving him more depth than anyone could have possibly imagine. The use of Sitcoms is a brilliant idea of Wanda escaping her harsh reality where the tones of each respective sitcom stand out among the show. If I were to rate Wandavision, I’d rate it a 5 out of 5.
Wandavision premiered on January 15, 2021 and can be streamed on Disney Plus. Wandavision has a Rotten Tomatoes score of 91%. Wandavision was created for TV by Jac Schaeffer, directed by Matt Shakman, was based on characters created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Roy Thomas and John Buscema and stars Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hanh, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings, Randall Park, Evan Peters, and Josh Stamberg.
So, tell me, have you seen Wandavision and if so, what do you think about it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Comment below or send me an email and let me know what you think.