'WandaVision' review: The most ambitious Marvel project coming to Disney Plus is incredibly weird but very impressive
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is heading into the sitcom world with WandaVision, which will be released on Disney Plus on Jan. 15, the weirdest but most creative way we’ve seen fan-favourite couple Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany).
Marvel meets The Dick van Dyke Show? This is certainly a risk but the first three episodes of WandaVision, around 30 minutes each, elevates the storytelling in the Marvel Cinematic Universe to the next level. Simply put, this is not a series you want to miss and you will have to tune in every week because you won’t be getting all nine episodes at one time.
It’s a completely innovative concept that you’ve truly never seen before, while still pushing forward this complex world of the Marvel that makes this Marvel Studios’ most impressive, ambitious work to date (move over Avengers: End Game). I can’t wait to watch the fourth episode.
Wanda and Vision start off in the 1950s, shown in black and white, reminiscent of a sitcom of the time, like I Love Lucy. The couple are trying to navigate living suburban lives, seemingly away from the rest of the Marvel world, while they still have their powers - think I Dream of Jeannie.
While that might initially seem too mundane for the Marvel fan, its captivating and nostalgic in the best way possible. As the timeline moves into later years, and colour is introduced, there is a commitment to the sitcom genre of the decades. This format has been described by director Matt Shakman as “a love letter to the history of television,” which is an incredibly accurate way to describe it.
At the outset, the series was filmed in front of a live studio audience, to make that sitcom execution as authentic possible, which Olsen said was particularly “nerve wracking” for her and messed with her brain.
Despite her nerves, Olsen’s performance is incredible, definitely some of her best work to date. Olsen and Bettany are both impressive, balancing being the Wanda and Vision we know while adding in perfectly executed physical, slap-stick comedy. Kathryn Hahn plays an essential sitcom character, the quirky nosy neighbours Agnes, who’s always coming over and getting in your business. Hahn is a comedy expert and is the perfect addition the cast.
Where are the Easter Eggs in the beginning of the series?
The first two episodes are setting up the season, which is completely justified when your main concept is taking the action-packed, visual acrobatics of Marvel and translating it into a series of sitcom episodes. But don’t lose focus, there are Easter Eggs and clues you need to pay attention to.
The third episode is where things changed for me, moving from a unique and entertaining series to being completely hooked, as more details start to slowly be revealed about this new world Wanda and Vision are in.
If you haven’t seen the previous Marvel films, there’s plenty to appreciate without the background knowledge, but as expected, you’ll certainly clue into some of the more hidden secrets planted throughout the episodes if you’ve seen everything up to this point.
In keeping with the television format, WandaVision features a commercial in each episode, mimicking the ads that would be playing on television screens in decade. You’ll want to keep an eye out for the details during these commercials and the products they’re advertising, as previous characters or plot points from from the movies may be teased.
“If this is the very first … MCU thing you're watching, it's just a strange version of a ‘50s commercial or ‘60s commercial that you'll have to keep watching the series to understand,” as Kevin Feige, president of Marvel Studios, described in a press conference this week. “If you have been watching all the movies, you might be able to start connecting what those things mean to the past.”
This is also the introduction of an adult Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), who we last saw in Captain Marvel as a child, which was set in the 1990s.
We know that Parris will also be playing Monica in the upcoming Captain Marvel 2 but WandaVision allows us to get a glimpse into what the character has been through as she grew up, which seems to largely be explored in the third episode forward. Parris said Monica has “definitely been through some things and seen some things.”
Throughout the first three episodes, you will see nods to the Marvel world we left at Avengers: Endgame, as this “normal” suburban life may not be as it initially seemed. As with every Marvel creation, the secrets are in the details, if you blink and miss what someone is wearing and or what someone says, you may lose sight of a key clue.