Episodes 1 & 2
Written by Jac Schaeffer
Directed by Matt Shakman
Many people genuinely love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and I am glad they have movies they can rewatch and enjoy like that. I wouldn’t count myself as someone enamored with superhero movies of any kind, though I do always give them a viewing. I am entertained by them, but I don’t think too much about the films when they are over. The most I revisit them is with my niece and nephew, who they honestly are intended for. The people who should get the most excited about superhero movies, Star Wars, and the like are little kids.
One of the things that have irked me the most about the MCU has been its blandness. There’s some variance, but most of the time, they look so similar to each other, and it appears the directors are forced to follow a style guide rather than put themselves into the work. I think Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy have been the most interesting looking Marvel movies of the bunch. Pictures like Ant-Man and the Iron Man films leave me yawning. So, when I first saw teaser images of Wandavision, I was deeply intrigued. The first trailer hooked me even more because I needed Marvel to do something weird.
Wandavision follows Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and The Vision (Paul Bettany) as they live in a world resembling American sitcoms through the ages. The first two episodes model themselves after 1950s and early 1960s television fare, and it appears subsequent episodes will move through the evolution of the genre. Of course, the audience knows this is not right. The last time we saw Wanda, she was working with the Avengers to kill off Thanos in the finale of Endgame. The Vision’s last appearance on screen was in Avengers: Infinity War, where that same villain extracted the Life Gem from his head, killing the synthezoid. This series isn’t quite ready to answer the big questions, but I feel it will get to them sooner or later.
In the first episode, Wanda and Vision can’t remember why there is a heart on today’s date on the calendar. Wanda, gabbing with wacky neighbor Agnes (Kathryn Hahn), concludes it must be some sort of anniversary. Vision is at work and suddenly realizes it is about his boss Mr. Hart (Fred Melamed) coming over for dinner. Wanda rushes to make dinner, secretly using her powers. A moment comes during the meal where Hart and his wife (Debra Jo Rupp) start asking how Wanda and Vision got married and came here. The couple finds they have no memory of those things.
The second episode opens with a theme song and credits that are an obvious nod to Bewitched. The house has changed to resemble something from the early 1960s. Wanda and Vision practice a vanishing trick for a fundraiser talent show being held later that day. While the first episode was shot entirely on soundstages, here we go outside and get a better look at the community and more extensive supporting cast. Wanda also finds a splash of color in this black and white world, a red toy airplane. Another wacky scenario plays out when Vision accidentally swallows chewing gum, which, because he is an artificial lifeform, causes him to behave erratically. But like all sitcoms, everything works out fine in the end.
Both episodes end with hints that someone is watching these events and trying to communicate with the two heroes. I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to say they are trapped in some sort of pocket dimension or alternate reality. The symbol of SWORD pops up several times; this is a sister organization to SHIELD. Their purpose in the comics is to deal with extraterrestrial threats, but I am guessing in the MCU that’s being expanded to any sort of cosmic/paranormal threat as well. There’s a curious scene at the end of the second episode where a man in a beekeeper’s outfit surrounded by bees emerges from a manhole cover. Wanda seems to know what this entails and can rewind reality so that this encounter never happens. At first, I wondered if they were somehow bringing the obscure Marvel villain Swarm into this, but I don’t think that’s what the scene was. Though I think it would be a lot of fun to see a mutated swarm of bees inhabited by madman’s consciousness in live-action. But that’s me.
So far, I find Wandavision to be a refreshing change of pace from the MCU movie formula. It’s the sort of thing the franchise needed, and I hope Disney+ keeps giving us unexpected & fun stories with Marvel characters. I’m curious to see where they go with this story. I know that Wanda is a co-star in the next Doctor Strange film, which will be focused on the Multiverse. My personal guess is that she has become the Scarlet Witch somewhere along the way learned her reality-altering powers. I think she summoned the Vision back into existence, and this sitcom universe is a protective reality where they can live free of all the strife and problems of the outside world. However, what they are doing is causing harm somehow, which is why SWORD has become involved. I always hope my predictions are wrong, though, as I’d rather they come up with something I’d never have imagined that works better. We shall see.