To say the latest Marvel Studios show “WandaVision” is different would be an understatement. It is safe to say the Infinity saga, which consisted of 23 films, has come to a satisfying finish. Now the live-action comic studio juggernaut directs a focus toward Phase 4 and the future ahead. However, this is where many felt Marvel would start to plateau or run out of steam.
Some fans have expressed a sense of fatigue has set in with oversaturation of content and choices. However, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is roaring back with a triumphant return. Much like the innovative and brilliant Steve Jobs, who had a finger on the pulse of the future with new Apple products, Kevin Feige, the chief architect of the MCU, has once again crafted a masterpiece in the works.
Now, WandaVison is a gamble for the studio, but it is one that the audiences didn’t know they wanted. The Disney+ series comes off feeling out-of-place and unorthodox and even at times dissonant. However, that’s what makes it brilliant and charming. I am enchanted and enjoy the concept and illusion of the series. It felt so refreshing to see my favorite heroes come to life from such a unique and new perspective.
Like many fans, I didn’t truly know what to expect, but my fears dissipated upon seeing the Marvel Studios logo and opening. The change happened so quickly. My mind started to adjust to the new reality of where the franchise was going. Then it hit me. The MCU was branching out to attract a younger generation that can be found on Disney+. The expansion is organic because of the success Disney found with their new live-action critical and commercial hit ‘The Mandalorian’ in the Star Wars Universe.
It is treading unknown territory, but I knew Marvel’s Feige had a plan and outline of where they wanted to take the franchise so I had to take a leap of faith and go along for the ride. WandaVision evokes nostalgia for a distant time as it is reminiscent of shows such as ‘The Dick Van Dyke Show’ or ‘Bewitched’. The series comes off with the framework of misdirection as a 50’s period piece but upon greater inspection of what’s under the surface, not everything is what it is. For example, the first two episodes are in black-and-white and were filmed in front of a live studio audience, but then the credits roll in color and adjust to the 4k quality of our reality.
It was surreal to see the past unfold before my eyes. I remember hearing and watching similar shows from that era because my dad was born in the 1960s. He told me that he found a sense of pride watching the reruns of those shows from his childhood in the 70s. During our time watching WandaVision I noticed that slapstick dialogue and the presence of audience reactions is a driving force behind the series. The laugh track was not muffled or drowned out by the score and the laughs came off as organic and genuine. It led to the feeling of watching a rough cut of the show in the studio.
The rating of the content and tone can be a bit of a shock. I was astounded by how certain characters would laugh off the murder and dark elements of the show. Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) feel like they are trying to fit in and go on along with the script.
I remember having to pause the show to take in what was happening because at one instance the vibe is happy-go-lucky, and then the camera starts to slow and the mood begins to shift. The tension keeps building and the episode starts to feel reminiscent of “The Twilight Zone”. WandaVision is like a creative mirage of horrific illusion.
One thing that needs extreme praise is the casting behind this series. Of course, we have Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as the main leads, and both have great chemistry and rapport due to their tenure from past MCU films. It was clear to see despite the series intended to make the characters feel like they are struggling to cope with the mass hysteria of fitting in. The duo struggle and have fear of not drawing attention which would cause the perfect life to crack, but both actors seem to be having the time of their lives together as well.
Both actors are performing at the top of their game, but it’s the newest addition of Agnes, the nosy neighbor, played by Kathryn Hahn, who is a true scene-stealer. Hahn radiates a maniacal charisma and evokes an uncomfortable sensation when she enters the frame, helping the audience realize that not everything is what it seems.
This leads me to the inclusion of the infomercials which usually come at times of highest scene potential. This seems odd but the more you watch the commercials individually you notice they are a commentary for how broken Wanda’s mind truly is. For example, the first one in episode 1 is a quick little infomercial for the ‘Stark ToastMaster 2000’, but upon viewing we can hear the narrator discuss burnt toast. Then we see how both the man and woman just stand there, and then a red light starts to bleed through the depressing black and white. At first, I thought it was a beacon, but then it dawned on me that if the series is supposed to dive into the emotional trauma that plagued Wanda throughout the MCU, then it would only make sense to include little glimpses of horror.
I felt the commercials are being presented to the audience for a glimpse into Wanda’s trauma. Toast being burnt is a bomb going off. The blood-stained hands of Tony were the same ones that manufactured nuclear bombs that killed Wanda’s parents and then trapped her and Pietro in the aftermath of rubble. The second commercial is for a watch called the ‘Struckker’ with the tagline “He’ll always make time for you”. Eagle-eyed fans will remember that it was Baron Von Strucker of Hydra who experimented on Wanda and Pietro and used the Mind Stone to make them into Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.
End of spoilers
WandaVision is a dark sardonic comedy disguised as a horror illusion that showcases and highlights the MCU venturing into genre-bending serial entertainment, but it also leaves a sense of context for how the nuclear family during the time ’50s was truly perceived during the events of the first two episodes. Every episode feels reminiscent of a different decade of television. As someone who has only heard stories and witnessed reruns of the golden days, it is pretty cool to take a trip down a road filled with the pavement of nostalgia.
As the series progresses, the more the truth will come out and knowing that this leads directly into the events that transpire in “Doctor Strange: Multiverse of Madness”. It’s only a matter of time before the bigger picture will be revealed, but the main question many need to ask themselves is Wanda ready for that day?