The MCU gets weird for the better.
Warning! Mild spoilers for the first three episodes of WandaVision below!
On Jan. 15, the Marvel Cinematic Universe made its Disney+ debut with WandaVision. The show follows Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen, and Vision, played by Paul Bettany, as they navigate through their years of marriage. Each episode is styled as a stereotypical sitcom from a certain decade, starting with the 1950s and jumping to a new decade’s style each episode.
If that seemed weird to you, that’s because it is. Not only is the aesthetic of the show quirky and strange, but choosing to make a show about these characters was a bold choice. The show owns its weirdness, and that confidence is what drew me to the show. Regardless, I was shocked when I heard the show announced at the San Diego Comic-Con in 2019.
At the time, I thought it was too late to make a show about characters who had been pushed to the side throughout five years of movies. Vision and Scarlet Witch have been criminally underdeveloped in the MCU. In her debut film, “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Wanda loses her twin brother, who at the time was her anchor. In “Captain America: Civil War,” she accidentally blows up a building full of innocent people. Then in “Avengers: Infinity War,” she watches as Vision, her love, is murdered twice before she’s snapped away by Thanos. Despite all of these events, none of the focus has been on Wanda and how she handles these tragedies.
Vision, on the other hand, learns what it is to be human from his interactions with Wanda in “Captain America: Civil War.” Slowly, he develops feelings for her, but nothing ever happens between the two. Suddenly, after a time skip in “Avengers: Infinity War,” the two are living together and in love. Needless to say, there were a lot of questions I had about these two, and the lack of focus on both of these characters didn’t make me care much for them.
After seeing the show’s first trailer; however, I was intrigued. I’m a big fan of any comic book, be it by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse or even Archie comics, and the first trailer made me realize two things: not only is Wanda getting the spotlight she deserves, but the show would be loosely adapting an iconic comic book story, House of M.
Keeping those two things in mind, I wasn’t blown away by the first two episodes of “WandaVision.” The show hopped between being a cheesy sitcom and a Marvel mystery but didn’t delve deep enough into the mystery side of things in the first two episodes for me to be hooked. There was one cameo at the end of episode two, revealing a potential villain, Swarm. Beyond that, there wasn’t much for fans who are clueless about Marvel comics as the tone is significantly different from most MCU productions.
That isn’t to say the first two episodes were bad. The wackiness of the show’s style and characters is what makes it work. The show manages to stay engaging and fun despite being in black and white. The parodying of 50s and 60s sitcoms ends up feeling more normal than a show set in today’s world.
Of course, there are other great things to praise about the show. The CGI throughout the show is minimal, but the very little we see is solid. The sitcom-hopping style of the show never makes a moment truly dull, especially when color appears in the black and white episodes. The theme song from the first episode has been stuck in my head since it came out. However, the show’s true power lies in the stars.
Olsen and Bettany shine in their lead roles. Olsen brings a new, bubbly dynamic to Wanda while switching between American and Sokovian accents. Her energy and body language perfectly fit whatever style of sitcom she lives in, be it the 50s, 60s or 70s. Everything from her walk to her voice changes, and it speaks to her talent that she is able to pull every style off.
Of all things, I am happiest for Paul Bettany to finally be human in the MCU. Before playing the robotic Vision, he was the voice of Tony Stark’s artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S. To see Bettany with a human face, playing ukulele and acting disoriented is a pleasant treat. A lot of the comedic timing comes down to Bettany, and he delivers! He made me laugh more than anyone else in the show.
The third episode has been my favorite so far. If anyone was still on the fence about whether or not this show was worth a watch, they are likely hooked after watching this episode. That’s exactly how I felt. There were just enough 70s sitcom shenanigans and tension from Olsen’s acting to make me fully commit to watching the show.
The story’s plot is finally moving, with Wanda and Vision’s twins finally being born —who, in the comics, join the Young Avengers. Vision is also realizing the world he and Wanda live in has a few loose screws. The story, characters and costumes will only get wilder as the show jumps into the 80s, and I’m here for it. “WandaVision” is proving not only to be a show but a puzzle. It’s only a matter of time before all the pieces come together.
So far, “WandaVision” is unlike anything the MCU has produced. Both our leads get some well-deserved character development, and the mystery of Westview remains a mystery…for now. If you haven’t started yet, I recommend you do.