Back in 2019, Marvel Studios was rumored to be developing multiple series for Disney Plus and this was confirmed at a big Hall H panel during San Diego Comic-Con. During the panel, Kevin Feige revealed Marvel’s upcoming Phase 4 slate and it included The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, Loki, What If… and Hawkeye. Later that year, Marvel Studios announced that series focusing on popular comic book characters such as She-Hulk, Moon Knight and Ms. Marvel were also in development. Not much was known about any of the series but as production went on we were given a few details about them. The most interesting of the bunch was WandaVision. WandaVision was revealed to be set in a sitcom world where Vision is alive and would somehow tie into Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.
Then something unforeseen happened. For the first time since 2009, Marvel Studios did not release a new film in 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The studio was forced to shuffle its film slate and newly-announced Disney Plus series. All of Marvel’s 2020 films were pushed back a full year to 2021, and due to COVID-19 related filming restrictions, The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was delayed as well. The Falcon and The Winter Soldier was supposed be Marvel’s first series to launch on the streaming service and because of its delays WandaVision has taken its place, making it the first Phase 4 release. I recently got the chance to check out the first three episodes of the series and what I saw was pretty darn great.
Elizabeth Olsen’s WandaVision is nothing like anything you’ve ever seen before from Marvel Studios. The series is in black and white, running in the 30-minute range as a flat-out sitcom. This is something that Marvel Studios and no other big-budget superhero product has ever done before. The series is a ballsy venture into a very different and new phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As soon as you press play, you feel like you’re watching classics like I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Genie or even the Twilight Zone. From the nuances of the actors’ gestures to their overall portrayals, WandaVision nails each generation of sitcom that we see in the first three episodes.
When WandaVision begins you find Wanda Maximoff and Vision in an altered reality and things aren’t what they appear to be. For one, Vision is alive and well after meeting his demise in Avengers: Infinity War and something strange is happening to Wanda. In the first three episodes, WandaVision lightly taps the surface of the mystery of what’s going on. That and the performances from the entire cast keep you heavily invested in what happens next. Each of the three episodes homages a decade of sitcoms ranging from the ’60s to the ’70s. The set design and costumes help tell the story as well as move things along. Wanda and Vision are adjusting to their new life in suburbia and their new neighborhood is full of interesting characters.
Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen make their return to the MCU in WandaVision. Bettany hasn’t made an appearance as Vision since Infinity War while Olsen was last seen in Avengers: Endgame. Bettany feels at home in this sitcom world and he really gets to show off his comedic chops. There’s a point in the series where he has to act intoxicated and it’s by far the funniest thing I’ve ever seen Bettany do as Vision. The actor nails all of the gestures and mannerisms of past decades of sitcoms and it’s pretty amazing to watch. He really makes you believe you’re watching a really old series. The scenes he shares with Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff are a good show of how the two make a great pair. The last time we saw Olsen in Endgame, Wanda was struck with grief over the loss of Vision. Now, in this altered reality, we get to see a very different side of Wanda. She’s happy, very domesticated and pretty funny. Olsen takes the lead of the series and is downright incredible. Her presence, charm and wit all shine.
WandaVision also introduces you to a few new characters that are also trapped in this warped world. Two of the standouts, at least for me, were Kathryn Hahn and Teyonah Parris. Hahn plays a overly friendly, but intrusive neighbor named Agnes and as the show progresses you can tell that there’s more to her than meets the eye. Hahn is great in the role and I really want to see where the series takes the character. Perhaps it could lead to a villainous route. Then there’s Monica Rambeau, who was last seen in Captain Marvel as a child, portrayed by Akira Akbar. Now, WandaVision introduces us to Rambeau as an adult with Parris in the role. Parris was my favorite cast addition. Her version of Monica Rambeau was graceful, powerful and had an immense presence on screen, making you interested in seeing who she is outside of this warped reality. All in all, Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios definitely have another hit on their hands with WandaVision. You’re going to want to check it out when it hits Disney Plus this Friday.
Overall Thoughts: WandaVision is an interesting start to Marvel Studios’ Phase 4 slate. The series homages classic sitcoms such as Bewitched, I Love Lucy and I Dream of Genie with a little dash of The Twilight Zone. The production quality and amazing performances from Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn and Teyonah Parris will draw in even the most cynical Marvel Studios fan. The ongoing mystery of what’s going on with Wanda is sure to keep people tuned in. WandaVision is out of the box, hilariously fun and just great television. It shouldn’t be allowed to be as good as it is. I’m dying to seeing what happens next.