As crazy as it must sound, it’s been just over a year and half since Spider-Man: Far From Home hit theaters. The film served as an epilogue of sorts to The Infinity Saga and our last piece of new content from The Marvel Cinematic Universe. When WandaVision premiered on January 15th, it ended what almost became the longest gap in new content since the studio’s inception. Second only to the 1 year 11 month gap between The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2. Fortunately, it looks like we have an insane amount of new MCU content coming our way this year, with WandaVision as the first out of the gate..
If going to talk about WandaVision, if you’ve seen the trailers, which I’m sure most of you have, you know the deal. But just in case, I’m posting a trailer right here to refresh your memory. Take one last look if you need a brief reminder:
I’m not gonna waste time going over the set up. Instead, I’m going to dive right in to what worked, and what didn’t, in The MCU’s first and highly anticipated new Disney+ shows. So, what did I think of the first 3 episodes of WandaVision? Does it live up to the hype? Was this the right project It kick off Phase 4 for Marvel Studios? Honestly, I don’t know yet.
The Big Problem: Weekly Episode Release Vs. Binge Format
My biggest take away from WandaVision was that streaming services desperately need to go back to the format that made them so intriguing and unique in the first place: Release all episodes of their original programming on the premiere date! It was so exciting things when a new season of Daredevil or Stranger Things, would premiere on Netflix and I could watch the entire story at my leisure! It was like getting to watch a trilogy of your favorite movie series over one weekend!
I understand that when Disney+ launched, the service needed to build up its library of original content and it’s subscriber base. The concern being, that people would just sign up, watch the first season of The Mandalorian over the weekend, and then cancel the subscription. Disney+ is successful enough now that it can move beyond that way of thinking and remember what drew people to streaming services in the first place.
For a series like WandaVision, the weekly format actually hurts the show. In fact, it’s WandaVision’s biggest weakness. Each episode of the show is formatted to replicate and pay homage to a classic sitcom era. Episode 1 feels very much like The Dick Van Dyke Show, while Episode 2 feels more like Bewitched, with Episode 3 turning into something like The Brady Bunch or Happy Days. While this is certainly extremely unique and innovative for a superhero story, it’s too earnest for its own good. Let’s be real, we don’t really give a shit about the sitcom format, we’re all here to watch this series because we know this is The MCU and something extremely strange afoot. We care about the mystery of WHY Wanda and Vision are stuck in this weird TV sitcom reality. The series takes the sitcom gimmick that they’re replicating each week, way too seriously. It seems like the creators didn’t just use the aesthetic and style of a 1960s sitcom, they also seem to be following the rules of storytelling that you’d see in a sitcom in the 60’s, which isn’t all that interesting. Like I mentioned before, innovations like this need to continue for superhero films to survive and thrive. But WandaVision would’ve been much better served leaning into the creepy and unsettling aspects of the whole TV sitcom format, more like something out of The Twilight Zone. As it stands we get a pretty earnest and straightforward series that’s basically a sitcom staring Wanda and Vision, with hints of something darker and mysterious in the background. How did the characters find themselves in this strange TV world? Who or what is doing this? Is it Wanda herself? The answers to those mysteries are what we’re here to see.
Know Your Audience & Why They’re Watching
They don’t have to show their hand right away, but we want more than just a silly sitcom with hints of something more interesting down the line. It couldn’t help but make me think of the film, Natural Born Killers, where Juliette Lewis’ abusive upbringing is shown in flashback form as a 60’s style TV sitcom, complete with a laugh track, while keeping the dark and twisted nature of her family life in tact. Seeing a horrible childhood juxtaposed with the wholesome sitcoms of yesteryear is what made that sequence so disquieting. Even Supernatural once did a crossover episode with Scooby-Doo, without ever compromising the tone or identity of either series.
WandaVision would’ve been much better served to up the creepy factor by 100%. The sitcom format would work so much better if we were more frequently reminded of the unsettling truth that something sinister is causing this. As it stands it’s basically just a sitcom that occasionally reminds us that there’s something unusual and dangerous at the heart of these events. There are more creepy and disturbing moments, as well as more overt clues about what’s actually be going on, in Episodes 2 & 3. Which is why I think the 2nd and 3rd installment are so much stronger than the 1st. Now it feels like we’re going to have to sit through weeks of a sitcom that we’re not really interested in watching, to get to the part of the story that really matters, which will probably be around the last three episodes. I’m old enough to have watched many of these old shows when they aired in the “Nick-At-Night” days. A large part of the audience won’t even know what show’s WandaVision is drawing inspiration from.
If the whole season dropped at once, the first 3 episodes would seem so much more charming and intriguing because we wouldn’t have to wait weeks to find out where this is going. We could dive right in and finish it out over a weekend. After all, it’s only six hours of content. Having said all that, I definitely like the show. Despite some of the creative choices that I disagree with, WandaVision is as fun as something like this could possibly be. Mainly because Wanda and Vision are such great characters and Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are excellent actors who really give it their all. They’re a fun duo to watch and they have great chemistry as a couple.
The bottom line is I encourage any superhero or MCU fan to check out WandaVision, just know what you’re getting into first. This is not an action adventure series. It’s very deliberate and with it’s own methodical and sometimes slow pacing. Which can be frustrating at times, but the potential of the underlying mystery as well as the performances by the excellent cast, will keep me coming back for more each week.
Like any good Marvel fan, or fanatic in my case, I kept my eyes peeled for Easter Eggs and believe me there are a ton of them! Wanda and Vision both have such storied history‘s as characters that there is a lot of storytelling there for the show to pull from. There are a lot of cool callbacks, Easter Eggs, and clues to previous MCU projects, comic book characters and storylines, as well as upcoming shows and films, in The MCU.
Easter Eggs, Clues, & References
First of all, Wanda seems to have undergone a massive power upgrade. She can seemingly create and manipulate matter at will. Conjuring up objects from thin and altering existing ones. There’s a neat end credits sequence at the end of each episode with a musical score that’s creepy as hell and works as a unsettling contrast to the bright and bubbly nature of everything that comes before. It reminded me quite a bit of how Wanda’s powers would manifest in miniseries House of M with these sort of blocks. When she creates or destroys, something it comes apart or is put back together again small squares much like what we see in the end credits.
All 3 episodes drop huge clues that the people monitoring Wanda and Vision are S.W.O.R.D., we see their symbol in the van monitoring thing at the end of Episode 1 and it appears again in on a red and yellow toy helicopter that Wanda finds in Episode 2.
The inclusion of SWORD is extremely interesting because they’re basically SHIELD for space. They monitor extraterrestrials threats to Earth and other dangers to the planet from outer space. This would imply that something extraterrestrial is at play in WandaVision, which opens up all sorts of fun possibilities. In one of the Spider-Man: Far From Home post-credits scenes Nick Fury is seen on an alien ship or space station, which led many to theorize that he was setting up S.W.O.R.D.
Wanda makes a new friend in Episode 2, a young African-American woman who introduces herself as Geraldine. They meet while attending a planning event on a sunny afternoon, under gazebo filled with other women from the community.
They’re all there to discuss the upcoming talent show fundraiser that the town is putting on. Right off the bat, there’s some really weird shit going down at this gathering of happy homemakers. Within her first few seconds of interacting with Wanda, Geraldine looks almost frightened and appears confused as to why she’s even at this meeting in the first place. As if she just woke up from an upsetting and disorienting dream. In Episode 3, we see that she’s wearing a necklace bearing the insignia of SWORD . She may introduce herself as Geraldine, but we know better. She is in fact Monica Rambeau a.k.a. Spectrum. We’ve actually encountered Monica in The MCU already, we met her as a child, in Captain Marvel. Monica is the daughter of Carol Danvers’ best friend. Monica is clearly following in the footsteps of the woman she look up to since she was a little girl. The next time we see her in The MCU outside of WandaVision will be as a full fledged superhero in Captain Marvel 2 which will likely involve SWORD in someway.
Someone, presumably SWORD, are tattempting to contact Wanda through the radio. You very clearly hear them asking her “Who is doing this to you, Wanda?”The voice on the radio is Agent Woo who we first met in Ant-Man and The Wasp.
Wanda and Vision perform a magic act in the town’s talent show school fundraiser. One of the props they use in their act, “The Cabinet of Mysteries”, has a symbol on it that looks a lot like The Mind Stone. An artifact key to the origins of both Wanda and Vision.
The commercial in Episodes 2 is for a watch made by Baron Strucker, who gave Wanda and her brother their powers. The watch also has the HYDRA symbol and says HYDRA on its face. Episode 3 has a commercial for a bath product made by HYDRA
In Episode 2, Wanda goes from normal to what looks to be about six months pregnant in a matter of moments. In episode three she gives birth to twin boys named Billy and Tommy. Shortly after their birth Wanda tells Geraldine (AKA Monica) that she was a twin and she had a brother named Pietro. This causes Geraldine to snap out of it for a moment and mention how Pietro was killed by Ultron.
At which point Wanda makes note of Geraldine’s SWORD necklace and hurls her out of town, back into the real world. She’s intercepted by what looks to be a massive government operation that seems to be monitoring the strange dome that has encased this town. Which reminded me a lot of the facility SHIELD constructs around Thor’s hammer, Mijonir, when it falls to Earth in the first Thor film.
It was also really cool just to hear Ultron referenced in Episode 3. He was an underrated villain who I’ve always wanted to see return. I had a theory that Ultron could somehow be involved in the events of WandaVision. I’ll just hold out hope that he’ll possibly make an appearance by the end of the season, who knows?
In the comics, Wanda and Vision have twin children (Billy and Tommy), who are later revealed to be constructs created by Wanda’s powers. The knowledge that her children were never “real” eventually leads to her mental break with reality that results in the deaths of Hawkeye, Scott Lang, and Vision. The fallout causes The Avengers to briefly disband. Which would seem to suggest that these children will likely be a very important part of the series going forward.
In the comics, It’s later revealed that the children were in fact real and survived. Eventually becoming the Young Avengers known as Speed (Tommy) and Wiccan (Billy), whose powers mirror those of Wanda and her brother Pietro AKA Quicksilver. Other members of Young Avengers include Scott Lang’s daughter, Cassie, who will develop size changing powers in Ant-Man 3. As well as, Hawkeye’s protege Kate Bishop, who will be making her debut in the upcoming Hawkeye Disney+ series with Hailee Steinfeld in the role.
Expect us to continue covering WandaVision as the series continues!
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