WANDAVISION (2021)

A solid start to the MCU’s new Disney+ arm.

A little slow to start for the first two or so episodes, but quickly gets comfortable playing with its concept and pushes what’s expected of a superhero show out into some interesting directions.

I’ll save the big plot twists and geekery for a spoiler section after the click-through, but safe to say there’s some solid easter eggs and fan service woven into it all.

If you’re not familiar with much of the Marvel universe there’s still a decent amount to enjoy in the satirisation of various television sitcoms over the years, and at its heart it’s fundamentally about Wanda and her sadness. If anything it could have stood to lean a little harder on the sitcom tropes, since there was a lot of good material in the supporting cast that felt a little shoved aside when the main arc needed to wrap up.

Great supporting cast, Paul Bettany imbues The Vision with a wonderful humanity, and extra accolades must go out to Elizabeth Olsen for such a multi-faceted performance anchoring it all together.

Hard to say what got shuffled out in terms of the larger MCU tie-ins since the release schedule was scrambled last year, but it’s a worthy addition to the canon and bodes well for the D+ series going forward.

Criticisms and larger discussions are pretty spoilery so consider yourself warned:

SPOILERS AHEAD

Firstly, stunt casting Evan Peters as Quicksilver was a brilliant slice, especially having him come in during the Malcolm in the Middle era. I’m not disappointed that this isn’t leading to a complete universe crossover with the Fox X-Men movies since I really think it’s too soon and they need a totally clean slate with those characters rather than YET ANOTHER rehash. This was a fun way to bring the character back though!

Likewise, the Halloween episode did a perfect job of throwing out some comics-accurate costuming while also finally taking a look at the creepier aspects of what Wanda was doing to people inside The Hex.

A little disappointing we didn’t get a full-on House of M style reality breaking rewrite, but as mentioned I do think it’s too soon to blow all of that up with so much coming down the pipe. I wonder what revelations we lost because Doctor Strange 2 got pushed back, since it’s explicitly meant to be multiverse based and Wanda’s playing a prominent role. Maybe it was just the post-credits scene the whole time, except now we have to wait.

Critically, I think the first two episodes were too similar in tone and probably could have been merged. I still enjoyed them, but the initial pacing probably turned a few people off.

Similarly, the finale did ultimately return to superheros flying around and shooting stuff which I never find very engaging, BUT I did appreciate that bith of the actual resolutions to the fights came down to cleverness rather than brute force:

Wanda remembering how the runes had worked against her and using her own space to cast a giant spell arena was good stuff! I like seeing the mystic characters be smart about these things, even if we had to go through a bunch of energy beams and Dragonball fights to get there.

I also really apprecited that while the Vision-versus-Vision fight was initially lasers and phasing, it was wrapped up using logic. It’s both perfectly in line with the character and sets him up for continued existence with some interesting development down the line. I have a real soft spot for the allegory of the Ship of Theseus too, since it’s often cited as one of the primary philosophical debates of transhumanism. Again, very on-brand for the character.

The whole supporting crew was also great, and I would happily watch Agents of Sword with Jimmy Woo, Monica Rambeau and Dr Darcy. Thanks to Randall Park for learning the card trick from Ant-Man & The Wasp — that single two second gag brought me so much joy.

And I would be remiss not to mention the entire emotional core of the series, namely Wanda’s trauma and grief. I’m glad that she got this much time to explore everything that had happened to her, and that it was handled in such a creative fashion. Most importantly, I was happy that she got some form of closure even if it came in the form of her having to say goodbye to The Vision yet again.

She’s definitely being set up to be a world-breaker at some point in the MCU’s not-too-distant future and I’m looking forward to seeing how they play it.

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