WandaVision is the latest offering from Marvel Studios after a gap of a year and a half. After Avengers: Endgame and Spiderman: Far From Home, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow and Angelina Jolie’s Eternals were scheduled to release. But the coronavirus destroyed all plans. While DC Universe films continued to surface, with Birds of Prey and Wonder Woman 1984 coming out, Marvel fans were disappointed in 2020.
By releasing WandaVision on Disney Plus right at the beginning of 2021, Kevin Feige has given all Marvel fans a wonderful gift. This is the first time a story in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is presented as a TV series. The way Avengers: Endgame ended the Infinity Saga, speculations were made about the remaining characters’ future. WandaVision is the first chapter of Phase 4 of the MCU that will run for a total of eight weeks.
Two episodes debuted last Friday, with the remaining seven episodes to release every Friday for the next seven weeks. This review is for WandaVision Episodes 1 and 2.
As we saw in the trailer, Wanda and Vision are trying to live an ordinary life. Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) is spending her day like a typical housewife, whereas Vision (Paul Bettany) is going to an office, working as a common man. But this is happening in a former time we used to see in the black and white TV shows.
If you have heard of or seen old sitcoms such as I Love Lucy, Full House, The Brady Bunch, etc., you will be delighted by the first two episodes of Wandavision. The two half-hour length episodes do not give you a chance to get bored even for a moment. Its a uniquely fun experience to watch the black and white presentation in an aspect ratio of 1: 1, just like the old times. Even though we have seen numerous Hollywood films that reflect the 1970s or 1980s, WandaVision brings a different feel to the television’s early age.
The family audience will surely be overjoyed, especially those who have savoured the shows being tributed in their childhood. And likewise, it will be interesting for today’s generation to taste how stories were told in the bygone era.
Speaking of the episodes, the first is much more entertaining than the second. We find Wanda and Vision as a newly married couple. They have shifted to a house of their own. Before you wonder if Wanda and Vision have lost their superpowers, you discern they are deliberately hiding it to adjust in society.
Since Wanda possess telepathy and Vision is a superpower robot, they do ordinary tasks in extraordinary ways. Naturally, they make people around them sceptical. Seeing them cover their mistakes, later on, becomes very tickling. The writers have done commendable work showing the two most powerful characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe trying to fit into ordinary life very well.
But as you would have guessed, how did Wanda and Vision reach the 1950s and 1960s? Is Wanda imagining everything, provided Thanos killed Vision? You get merely hints to this question during the final moments of each episode.
If you go beyond the comedy and nostalgia, there is very little you find in WandaVision. The first thing to acknowledge is the show is as expensive as the budget of an Avengers film. Although the production, music and costume design is very accurate to the glorified era, it never justifies its posh budget.
The story too, repeats itself during the second episode. The end of the first episode hints at more significant information in the next, but all you get is puzzle-piece, little details, too hard to interpret for the general audience.
A couple of coloured objects in these black and white episodes compel you to think of their significance, but it won’t make sense to the most. If you pay attention, you can figure out how the first episode reminds you of the 1950s, while the second episode recalls the 1960s. The house Wanda and Vision get to live in the first episode changes to a different one in the second episode, without any explanation, suggesting the tributes to the respective decades, but making you wonder about their context in the whole story.
The mention of Sokovia also gives weight to the fact that maybe Wanda grew up watching the TV shows being tributed here, and its what she considered to be an example of a good life. Which explains why, if true, she has created this imaginary world with her and Vision living a life she wanted to live, but can no longer do it.
During the second episode, a symbol also hints at a substantial entity from Marvel Comics (similar to S.H.I.E.L.D) that casual fans, who have only seen movies, will not understand. You also get a reference of Stark Industries, which neatly connects this story to the ongoing 13-years old M.C.U storyline.
You can say the first two episodes of WandaVision are mostly standalone. You keep getting hints of the expansive story ahead, but for now, anyone can enjoy it, purely for the pleasure of celebrating the joys of the sitcoms of the bygone era. If you have seen Infinity War, if not all the Marvel movies, you will get an even better essence of the story, for knowing the titular characters.
Kevin Feige described WandaVision as groundbreaking, which doesn’t seem justified right now. All you can hope for is the show to make a sweet transition from merely being a tribute to the old times into being a benchmark for the array of Marvel films and TV series ahead.
WandaVision is streaming on Disney Plus, and Disney Plus Hotstar. You can watch it by subscribing to the streaming platforms. Episode 3 will drop on 1:30 pm IST and midnight PST on January 22.