FINALLY! It’s time for the latest release from the wizards at Marvel Entertainment and Disney+… It’s WandaVision! The first two episodes of WandaVision dropped today, and this is what I have to say about them.
“I trust you Kevin Feige, don’t let me down.”
Because honestly, the show is just, well, strange.
We are immediately thrown into what appears to be a 1950’s television sitcom, this episode reminiscent of the Dick Van Dyke show, and the 2nd episode bears an uncanny resemblance to Bewitched. Both with excellent homage intros, and the set design paying a peachy keen swell tribute to both of those shows as well. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they just dusted off those sets and ran with them.
In true 1950’s TV sitcom style, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) go about their daily routines, making silly remarks which are instantly followed by a live studio audience’s laughter. From what I understand, an actual studio audience was present during filming, and while I don’t know how they managed to keep everything a secret, the non-canned laugh tracks actually do a decent job of “taking you back” to that era of television.
But something’s not right. Neither of them can remember anything before they arrived here. They’re not even sure why they’re there in the first place. From the first episode’s “dinner with the boss” that really goes hard at the comedy, then turns Twilight Zone dark in a few places… to the “talent show” in the second episode, where a “gummed up” Vision stumbles through a magic act in a drunken-like stupor, and Wanda uses her powers to try and keep everyone from freaking out.
There are more clues to be found however. In a toaster ad, you see the Toastmaster (or whatever it was called I forgot tbh) has a singular red light in the middle, in a sea of black and white. Similarly, Wanda finds a toy helicopter in her hedges, its colored the same red/gold as Iron Man’s suit, and has a curious logo on it.
This same logo can be seen during the last shot of the first episode, as we see an unknown person watching this “show” in a modern “control room” of sorts, with racks of computers and switches, and the logo appears on a large screen next to the TV. The logo is a circle with a sword in it, because it represents SWORD, a sister-agency of SHIELD. And that’s about as far as I care to go into depth on that because my comic book expertise is basically related to movies and TV. Sorry, guys.
In the second episode, a strange voice starts coming through the GE radio (identical to one I rebuilt and restored for my sister which got a nice sensible chuckle from me) that says “what are they doing to you Wanda?!” before it explodes. I didn’t recognize the voice as anyone in the MCU we already know….
So who is it? Furthermore, who is the “beekeeper” that emerges from the manhole cover in the street? Forcing Wanda to just say “no” and literally rewind to a few moments prior, before that happened. Demonstrating that she’s got more control over what’s happening that we, or even maybe she, realize.
And when she does, she discovers that my goodness, she’s very and visibly pregnant!
So, what did I think of WandaVision so far? Honestly I’m torn. I’m not sure what exactly I was expecting, because really there hasn’t been anything like it. Not that I can remember. Those of us who remember these old shows are able to admire the care and reverence that the production team has put into this. At the same time, it is so 1950’s cringeworthy, that through most of it you’re just left sitting there with this look like “ok, ok, I get it, its the 1950’s, yeah, that’s funny I guess.”
Then again, THATS THE POINT, so its all good.
The pacing of each episode really shines, but they’re not all that long (something like 6 minutes of credits in every language known to man are at the end!) but the wanton 1950’s homage is briefly interrupted just enough with … *something* different that makes us sit up and pay attention. And just like that its gone again. Infuriating, yet at the same time intriguing.
Another constant between the two episodes is Agnes (Kathyrn Hahn), the oh-so friendly (yet strangely not) neighbor who obviously knows more than she’s letting on. In episode 2 we meet “Geraldine” (I’m not spoiling the rest!) played by Teyonah Parris, who is also confused about how she got to this Pleasantville reality and why.
There are lots and lots of theories bouncing around teh intarwebs about how the show fits into the larger MCU. I’m not even going to attempt to dive into those theories here, mainly because like I said my comic book knowledge is very very shallow, and second, because I don’t want to spoil anything if its right. If COVID hadn’t completely derailed the original schedule, it all might make a bit more sense. Who knows. Once Black Widow, Loki, and Winter Soldier drop, hopefully more pieces will fall into place and we’ll get a really good picture of this next phase of the MCU.
So here’s the thing, I’m not going to put an actual rating on this. Not yet. I will wait until I’ve seen every episode, and had a moment to contemplate its role in the larger picture of the MCU. Like I said above. “I trust you, Kevin Feige, don’t let me down.”