Marvel: ‘WandaVision’ Review

Screenshot of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany in ‘Wandavision’. Copyright goes to Marvel Studios and Disney,

Hey! Hallie here!

‘WandaVision’s finally here! I’ve talked a bit about the female representation in Marvel before, but I’ve never quite gotten to speak about how much I love Wanda Maximoff. She has definitely been one of the bright points in Marvel’s messy on-screen female representation history. She’s the most powerful superhero they’ve introduced so far, and she’s allowed to be without sacrificing her emotions or overall personality. Wanda is a confused woman who struggles a lot with self love and depression, but all she really wants is to do some good and live her life. When Vision dies, the life she was setting up for herself after her brother and hometown were ripped away from her, once again gets pulled out from under her. And while she’s able to show how powerful she really is against Thanos in an act of retaliation, that in no way fixes the problem. She’s in a pretty dark place when we leave her. Which is what makes the premise of ‘WandaVision’ so interesting. Somehow Vision is back and they’re living a married life in a completely different timeline that is obviously not real. This show balances sitcoms from various timelines with the mystery behind who created the entire reality and why Wanda is stuck in it. Let’s go over what it does best so far. SPOILERS ahead.

The Good:

The Sitcom. The first episode mimics a 50’s black-and-white sitcom with a pretty basic storyline. Vision and Wanda see a heart on their calendar but can’t remember what it is. After talking with a neighbor Wanda thinks that it likely marks the couple’s anniversary, but at work Vision realizes its marks the night his boss, Mr. Hart, is coming over for dinner. The story has been done many times, but Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany make it fun. Both of them are having a lot of fun with all of the old fashioned elements and it’s infectious. Both of their acting choices perfectly mimic the acting in shows from that time period. They also have a lot of on-screen chemistry which often saves moments that could be more boring with the cute romance between Wanda and Vision. When they move on to the 60’s in an episode that very clearly uses ‘Bewitched’ as it’s main inspiration, everything is tweaked perfectly. They move from wide shots and a live studio audience to more closeups and different camera angles to give it a new feel. This episode, Wanda and Vision are tasked with putting on a magic show for their community, but Vision accidentally eats some gum. Seeing Paul Bettany act Vision as basically a drunk was hilarious and this episode gave a lot more of the side cast a larger spotlight. Once again it’s a pretty simple premise, but it leaves room for the actors to shine and the mysterious moments to seem more out of place.

The Mystery. There’s a lot of intrigue in this show and it’s the perfect amount of chilling. In the very first episode Wanda and Vision are pretty clearly confused about nearly everything. It’s not simply that there’s a mark on their calendar they don’t remember. While talking with her neighbor, Wanda realizes she doesn’t have a wedding ring, the couple don’t have a song, and they also don’t have an anniversary. Vision doesn’t know what the company he works for even does or why he’s working there. All of these strange gaps in memory come to a head when Wanda and Vision finally sit down for dinner with Mr. Hart and his wife. Mr. Hart asks Wanda and Vision what their story is, becoming more loud and angry that the pair don’t even remember when they moved in. Then he starts choking to death at the table. Wanda becomes both dazed and horrified, which only increases when Mrs. Hart begins to say “Stop it” over and over, partly as if she’s joking and partly as if she’s pleading. Wanda eventually tells Vision to save Mr. Hart, having lost the light tone she’d been talking in for the entire episode, and then the laugh track comes in as if nothing happened. The episode also ends with someone watching the show through a screen with a notebook with a mysterious sword emblem on it.

The second episode begins with a strange banging noise that startles both Vision and Wanda, but they find nothing but trees when they open their window. Later on, Wanda finds a toy plane with the same sword emblem as earlier, and it’s red despite the black-and-white look of the episode. Then Wanda attends a community meeting with the rest of the women of the neighborhood. When she stays to help the group leader clean up, the radio begins to pick up a feed of a man asking Wanda who has done “this” to her. The group leader suddenly becomes frightened and asks Wanda who she is, becoming so agitated that she breaks the glass in her hand and draws red blood. When Wanda finally snaps out of her horror to clean the wound, the woman acts as if nothing happened. As if that wasn’t enough, when the episode is about to end and Wanda suddenly finds herself pregnant, Vision and Wanda hear the same banging as earlier in the episode. They rush outside to find a man in bee-keeping gear, sporting the sword emblem, climbing out of a manhole. Wanda sees him and says “No”, which rewinds the episode to before she and Vision heard the sound so it can end happily. So far the hints are pretty light, but they definitely leave an impression.

The Bad:

The Pacing. While I appreciate the show’s slow unveiling of hints, there are only seven episodes of this series left. With episodes that are only ranging from thirty to forty minutes long, I definitely think the amount of hints, and overall pacing, has to speed up very quickly for the final climax to make any sort of sense. I’ve already read plenty of reviews from Marvel fans who didn’t like the show because they thought there wasn’t enough intrigue, and while several of them did miss major puzzle pieces, I do understand the frustration of not receiving more in the first two episodes of a nine episode long show.

The Characters. While it’s nice to see Wanda and Vision again, they aren’t really themselves. While that does serve the story, for now at least, it’s important that we get glimpses of who they are in the future. Especially with this show tackling Wanda’s mental health. This show seems to imply that Wanda’s reality altering powers are in effect, which leads many to believe that the writers are going to at least create a variation of the ‘House of M’ storyline from the comics. This storyline hinges on Wanda’s mental health and it was very obviously taken much too far in the comics. Instead of dealing with her problems, the comics basically called her crazy and left it at that. Wanda has struggled with her mental health in the MCU, and regardless of what the writers choose to do, they’re headed towards another scenario where Wanda’s mental health is a major focus. Wanda needs to be able to deal with it realistically. They can’t do that if they leave the characters to simply be sitcom parodies the whole way through.

Obviously, I like the show so far. I think it’s both cute and interesting. Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen have done an incredible job with it so far. I love the direction the show is heading in and I’m excited to see more. Most of my gripes are contingent on whether or not the show is going to continue with the same pace and caricatures as the first two episodes. Because if this show is going to reach it’s full potential, it needs to get to a point where Wanda can be Wanda before we even reach episode nine.

Don’t do anything fun until I get back!

Hallie

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