WandaVision is the latest Marvel series to hit the small screen, arriving in a flood of hype as the first official series to tie in with the rest of the MCU. Initially, I hadn’t been interested in this after struggling to enjoy previous Marvel series, however after discovering that everyone I know was watching this, FOMO and the fact that we haven’t had a new MCU release since Phase 3 wrapped up with 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, has prompted me to give this a go. And I’m rather glad I did.
WandaVision is set not long after the events of Endgame, and follows Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as they live an idyllic suburban life in the small town of Westview. However all is not as it seems; Wanda and Vision appear to be starring in their own 1950s style sitcom, as an odd couple with superpowers trying to blend in with the neighbours, including nosy Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) and committee leader Dotty (Emma Caulfield). Strange things soon start happening, and as Wanda and Vision become increasingly confused and suspicious about their new life, outside of Westfield agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park), Dr Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) and Captain Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) are also trying to figure out what’s going on.
Setting WandaVision in the style of various popular sitcoms from the 1950s onwards is a genius move. BeWitched, I Love Lucy, Malcolm in the Middle and Modern Family to name but a few of the obvious influences on show here, and this changing sitcom-style really works and blends very well with the super-powered action we know and love from the MCU. I’ll admit that I’m not a massive fan of sitcoms in general and my knowledge of older ones pre-1990 is limited at best, however, even I could appreciate the love and care that has gone into crafting this. It looks amazing and feels so authentic, from everything to the set design, costumes and change in aspect ratio.
It is of course helped by the stellar performances by Elizabeth Olsen. In the MCU so far Wanda has been rather sidelined and Olsen has been given little chance to shine. However she is undoubtedly the star of WandaVision and has been given ample opportunity to show off her versatility and talents, and she certainly does. We see a side of Wanda we’ve never seen before and Olsen’s ability to transform into each decade’s sitcom character is brilliant to watch. It’s a shame then that Bettany’s Vision doesn’t quite match up. No matter the decade, Vision never really seems to change much and while he is funny on occasion, I’m not entirely convinced that seeing more of Vision is a good thing. He’s always been the aloof synthezoid and this may have made him a little too ‘human’. However that said, it was still nice to see a lot more of Bettany than we have done in a while.
Once you get over the sitcom styling, the first couple of episodes are quite slow and had it continued in this vein I may have struggled to remain interested. However, in typical Marvel style, it soon picks up and immerses us into the full MCU experience I was expecting. While I don’t want to say much about the plot, from episode 3 onwards I was hooked and the story never felt drawn out, and this wasn’t just due to the short half-hour episodes. Unravelling the world of WandaVision was hugely enjoyable and one particular character reappearance in episode 5 had me almost squealing in geeky happiness. The only thing WandaVision is really lacking is the humour and camaraderie that have made the rest of the MCU films into what we love best. Yes, there is humour and fun, but this mostly comes from Woo and Darcy, and I think it’s noticeable that the funnier Avengers are missing.
For me, WandaVision isn’t perfect however it was still hugely enjoyable and has definitely given me a newfound appreciation for Wanda as a character. And most important of all, it’s filled a rather large Marvel shaped hole brought on by coronavirus. Bring on The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
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