Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff) and Paul Bettany (Vision) star in Disney+ first addition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and set a high bar for everything to come.
Here’s a not-so-fun fact for you: Thanks to some stupid virus that you’ve most likely heard of by now, 2020 was the first year since 2009 to not have a new Marvel Cinematic Universe property released. At this point it feels like the heat death of the (real life) universe will happen before we get to see the perennially delayed Black Widow, and that’s being generous. With theaters shuttered and the box office on life support, we depend even more on streaming services these days for our entertainment, and wouldn’t you know it, but Disney and Marvel had just the thing lined up to ensure small screen dominance: a plethora of cinematic-quality miniseries that tie into their big-screen juggernauts in ways that previous Marvel shows could only dream of.
WandaVision, a nine-episode explosion of style and weirdness featuring the perpetually second-string Avengers Scarlet Witch and Vision, is the first of these miniseries, and it is a home run.
If the words I just wrote mean very little to you, then you’re probably not a fan of the MCU (or baseball, if “home run” was tripping you up) and probably won’t appreciate the show as much as your nerdy brethren. But even without the sense of duty that many of us have to ingest everything this universe has to offer, the show shines. Creatively shot and brilliantly acted, WandaVision manages to capture the feel of numerous sitcoms (why? I feel like that might be a spoiler…) while simultaneously fitting in quite well with the movies and comics that have come before it. Elizabeth Olsen in particular is quite stunning, seamlessly fitting in with each era of television with an ease that makes you think she has been doing each “show” for hundreds of episodes already. Another clear standout is Kathryn Hahn as Wanda and Vision’s neighbor Agnes, who… well, let’s not get into that right now.
There is an inherent catch to this authentic flavoring, however; if you are not a fan of certain eras of television and sitcoms in general, some moments might be a bit of a chore to get through. I found the first couple of episodes in particular a bit slow, as the dark mystery that makes up the bulk of the story takes a while to make itself known. But just when I was starting to get bored of 1950s and ‘60s sitcom antics, something creepy and weird would happen, which drew me right back in. And by the time I was on episode three, I was fully invested, purposefully lame sitcom jokes or not.
Kevin Feige, the mastermind behind the MCU, has insisted that the Disney+ miniseries will not be required watching for future movies and vice versa, and it will be interesting to see how they pull this off. Because WandaVision feels pretty dang important to what will happen next, and it has already been said that it feeds into both Spider-Man: No Way Home and Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. I guess what I’m saying is, don’t trust Kevin. Assume this show is important to the MCU just in case, and by the time you’re finished watching you’ll at the very least get some good insights into a couple of Avengers who have been playing second fiddle for far too long.
All nine episodes of WandaVision are now available on Disney+.