The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) kicked off its fourth phase with the boldly unique TV show “WandaVision.”
Summing up this show without spoilers is incredibly difficult. What I can say is that the show stars Elizabeth Olson and Paul Bettany as the title characters, and coming off the back of action blockbusters like “Avengers: Endgame,” “WandaVision” shifts gears hard, throwing you straight into a black and white 50s style sitcom.
The mystery and intrigue the first episodes built really got me hooked on the show. Episode one left my mind spinning with questions, but offered no answers and only a few clues. How is Vision still alive? Why is there a laugh track? What the heck is going on? Every episode seemed to end on a cliffhanger and raise more questions, leaving me drooling for more. The weeks in between episodes often went by agonizingly slow.
Thankfully, the show does evolve, and we eventually get our answers. What kept me around after this point was the characters. Wanda and Vision had both been secondary players in the MCU up to this point. I always liked them, but never on the level of Captain America or Iron Man. This show changed that and elevated them both to A-list status, which is something that was crucial coming off of “Endgame.”
Wanda especially got some much-needed development. The show is really all about her and the exploration of her grief. I also loved that this show was bold enough to explore her villainous side. It’s easy to forget that she was a literal terrorist only a few movies ago. Wanda and Vision’s romantic relationship got a lot more depth too. Episode eight had a beautiful scene between the two that was genuinely one of the best in the MCU.
One of the reasons the characters pop so much is the performances. Olson’s pain-filled performance tore my heart out on multiple occasions and Bettany has all these fantastic, subtle quirks that really endeared me to Vision. The pair also pull off the comedy of every decade flawlessly. The range on display is astounding.
While there was a lot to love, the show wasn’t perfect. It relied heavily on building questions and mystery — which I loved — but not all the answers were as mind-blowing as we were led to believe. Some of this is due to all the rampant, insane fan theories, but some of the blame falls on the showrunners for intentionally leading us on. There was one reveal towards the end that was very reminiscent of the Mandarin twist in “Iron Man 3.”
The ending was good, but it didn’t knock my socks off. It was emotional and worked great on a character level, but fell flat a bit on the spectacle side. In a franchise known for epic battles producing a show with no action until the season finale, the final sequence felt a little pedestrian.
Also, some of the side characters took a major backseat after we spent a large part of the middle episodes with them. However, the action and the plucky side characters were never the reason I stuck around for all nine episodes anyway, so I can forgive this.
Overall, “WandaVision” is a big win for Marvel. It proves that one, the MCU is willing to take risks and try new things. Two, the MCU can be just as great on TV. Three, the MCU can survive and even thrive in this post-Iron Man era. It has me very excited for the future, so it goes without saying that “WandaVision” is definitely worth a watch.