On Friday, the long awaited return of the MCU arrived. But for this viewer, it was never about the return of the MCU, it was always about Wanda.
First teased well over a year ago, every plot detail given WandaVision sounded more and more like a fever dream pulled from my mind. As you may have seen from our Sitcoms Top 10, I’m a huge sitcom fan, especially BeWitched, so it’s of no surprise that episodes 1 & 2 charmed me beyond belief. So much so I found myself almost moved to tears of joy at episode 2’s opening credits. But let’s start with episode 1.
Opening with a catchy number that tells us all about them, Wanda and Vision are the newlyweds in town, a peculiar couple with their flying plates and indestructible heads. Little happens over the course of the first episode, but it’s a great set up. Gaps in memory and realisations that they are ‘quite an unusual couple’, the newlyweds are faced with dinner with Visions new boss, a perfect sitcom episode homage. An accident at the dinner table is our biggest sneak into what could be happening, the sudden change of camera shots and direction is superb. With almost an imperceptible change, the entire tone shifts, with Mrs Hart laughing to ‘stop it’ in a manic way, the tension unnerving.
In jokes about Vision’s job ‘what do we actually do here’ and the introduction of Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes, who has a pitch perfect back and forth with Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda, the show is full of laughs and brought me great joy. As we moved to episode 2 it’s more of the same but improved. We leave the confines of the house and explore more of Wanda’s suburbia and new neighbours. Nods at who Agnes could be, perhaps an appearance of Monica who you may know from Captain Marvel, there are tiny delicate touches all over, as well as some big, coloured touches.
Having been woken up in the night, Wanda finds a red and yellow helicopter toy in her rose bushes the next morning. Later on, at a meeting to organise the towns talent contest, a conversation between Wanda and an excellently cast Emma Caulfield as Dotty is disturbed by a voice coming through on the radio. ‘Wanda, who’s doing this to you Wanda?’ Dotty’s glass smashes and her hand cuts open revealing luminous red blood, unexpected in this black and white world. Wanda is starting to question her new home more and more, but an event towards the end of the episode shows she may have more control than she, or we her audience, realised, and we’re left to question who is the Beekeeper?
The show is adorably cute and tonally perfect. From the moment the Marvel logo faded to black and white and the aspect ratio truncated, my heart sung with joy. It’s clear this show has been made with the utmost attention to detail and from someone who cares deeply about the history of American TV. Whilst Marvel TV Shows have aired before, this is our first ‘official’ MCU show and marks a change in how Marvel may move forward in Phase 4 (it should however be noted that this was not originally intended as the opening to the phase). It’s exciting to see Marvel and Feige take real risks and try something different as they move to alternate platforms. But most of all, it’s an inexplainable pleasure to finally see Olsen get her moment in the spotlight.
As perhaps the strongest Avenger, Wanda (aka Scarlet Witch) has never been able to be front line, despite having some of the strongest moments in Infinity War. For anyone who has followed Olsen outside of the MCU, you’ll know what an outstanding and all-round performer she is. WandaVisiondirector Matt Shakman knows this too and gives her every opportunity to showcase the power she holds, just like sitcom predecessors before her, in the flick of a wrist.
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