'WandaVision' Takes the MCU in A Bold New Direction

  • Screen Time
    Screen Time

    As a long-time fan of Marvel comics and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, one of the things that most excites me about the DIsney+ platform is the bevy of MCU projects slated for it. Last week, the first of many such projects finally arrived: WandaVision.
promised to be an oddball series from the start. First off, one of the two titular characters has been dead since Avengers: Infinity War; second, there’s that weird title. When previews arrived, things only got stranger--the show appeared to be an I Love Lucy-style black-and-white sitcom… sometimes. It was a lot to wrap one’s head around.
    Last Friday, the first two episodes debuted at last, giving viewers a chance to see what the series was really all about… kind of.
    To my surprise (and, shockingly, my delight) the first two episodes take place almost entirely within the black-and-white world of a fifties sitcom. It’s as weird as it sounds; these are two supposed superheroes, dealing with problems as mundane as a dinner party and a talent show. The whole thing has a bizarre, nostalgic patina to it… and yet it absolutely works.
    One major reason the show holds together so well is that it’s legitimately funny. I laughed out loud a bunch during these inaugural episodes, often at the antics of Paul Bettany’s Vision; whether he’s trying in vain to figure out what the company he works for actually does (“I don’t know, Vis, but since you started here our productivity has gone up three hundred percent!” a smiling coworker says, leading a baffled Vision to ask, “Yes, but what do we produce?”) or bumbling through a magic act while intoxicated, Bettany never fails to crack me up.
    For her part, Elizabeth Olsen plays the Lucille Ball-esque housewife to a tee while also grounding the show’s more serious moments. There’s a driving mystery in WandaVision--namely, just what the heck is going on and why are these characters in an old-timey sitcom--and Olsen’s ability to switch between silly and serious as the story dictates is impressive.
    It’s a bold choice on the showrunners’ part to approach the series like this; two episodes in and there’s been no explanation (and very few clues) as to just how Wanda and Vision got stuck here (or even how Vision is back in the land of the living). However, the overall goofy tone only makes it more interesting and, yes, a bit sinister when something goes awry. When Vision’s boss chokes on a bit of food at the climax of the first episode, it’s a deeply unsettling moment--his wife, seemingly stuck in ‘sitcom mode,’ alternates between laughing and sobbing as she repeatedly asks him to “stop it.” Uncanny moments like these recur throughout both episodes, heightening the air of mystery and sense of dread.
    It’s still early; seven more episodes remain to be released, but so far, WandaVision is off to a great start. It’s certainly the weirdest thing the MCU has done so far, but that’s what I love about it! It’s strange and funny and creepy all at the same time. Most of all, though, it’s mysterious--I’ve genuinely got no idea where it’s going. But I can’t wait to find out!
More articles and reviews by Ethan McIntyre can be found at rollwithit.blog.