"I think something's wrong here"
For Marvel fans, the wait for the MCU's next entry has been tough. After all, the fanbase had gone from having multiple cinematic releases in a year to none at all. But with the release of Wandavision on Disney+, it's clear that Marvel Studios are raring to go and get things back on track, and reintroduces the MCU back onto our screens in spectacular fashion.
With Wandavision, Marvel deviates from their usual programming to bring you something exciting; something bold; and something a little familiar. Above all else, Wandavision finds its distinction from its cinematic predecessors in the fact that it's the MCU's first series. While the series is a far cry from the grand superhero epics the MCU is known for, its departure from its roots is what makes it so special. It has it's action-packed moments and familiar faces to welcome in returning fans, but it doesn't do so to pander.
Where Wanda Maximoff (Elisabeth Olsen) has always been more of a secondary character alongside her other superpowered colleagues, Wandavision places her centre stage, not only hinting at the fact she'll play a more significant role in future projects but finally giving her the chance to shine as a multilayered character the brings a whole lot of heart to the show. Even Vision (Paul Bettany) is made more human, not just in his physicality but personality. The chemistry between Olsen and Bettany amplifies the pair's performances to new levels, as the relationship between the two lies at the very core of what makes this series truly special.
The way the series develops its returning characters and crafts an enthralling narrative shows how beneficial TV format is for the MCU. It builds on the foundations placed by movies past in ways that make it feel far superior to that of its movie counterparts, and will no doubt get you excited for Marvels streaming future.
Did I also forget to mention that it's a sitcom? Marvel fan or not, you'll know that the MCU isn't famed for being a cinematic universe of sit-coms. So why is Wandavision a sit-com? I'll let you find that out yourself, but I will say whoever thought of the idea is a genius. The series takes place in the idealistic town of Westview, New Jersey, featuring a bustling community, friendly neighbours, and everything else you'd expect from a traditional 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s...well, you get the idea.
When I say Wandavision is a sit-com, I really mean sit-coms, as the series simultaneously features its own story, while also being an exploration of the American sit-com genre. Each episode pays homage to a famous sit-com from the era it chooses to be in. Starting us off in the 50s, Wandavisions opening episode is based on the well-known 50's sitcom, The Dick Van Dyke Show. It has everything you'd expect, from the audience laughing track after every comedy bit, to the black and white filter, and even the era-appropriate set design and wardrobe. The trend carries on in each subsequent episode, with episodes modelled on the template of classics like Bewitched, Family Matters, and Full House. It even makes its way through the era's all the way to the 2000s, eventually featuring an episode in the mockumentary style of Modern Family, and everyone's favourite, The Office. It isn't all just a series of sit-com references though.
Though it might seem like all its doing is copying the traditional and modern sitcom format, it's so much more than just a compilation of callbacks. I'll be honest when I say I didn't know what to expect from the show, but within the first few minutes, I had a smile on my face that I couldn't shake off. The show nails the sit-com style, with charming characters, witty dialogue, and all sorts of sitcom shenanigans. Some of my favourite moments came from the wacky scenarios Wanda and Vision got themselves into, whether that was Wanda having to deal with an authoritative middle-class housewife, or an inebriated vision attempting to perform magic. There's even the occasional advertisement mid-episode that feature cheeky little nods to previous marvel projects that are guaranteed to give any eagle-eyed fan a little chuckle. It's here that Wandavision hooked me in and showed that it isn't one big sitcom reference, but a sitcom in its own right. However, things quickly get a little strange.
As fun and cheerful as the series is, you can't help but notice that something is wrong. In amongst each scene, there are moments that seem out of place or feel as though they've gone off-script. An example of this would be when Wanda and Vision are consistently asked about how they came to Westview, where they came from, and when they got married. Yet for a couple who've seemingly been together long enough to be married, they don't know when they got married, or even where they lived before Westview. If that wasn't mysterious enough, creepy moments such as a beekeeper emerging from a sewer, and an out of place toy helicopter truly give you the sense that not everything is as it seems. It freaked me out a good few times, and it only gets creepier from there.
When things go wrong or "cast members" make overly meta comments, the scene rewinds back to before something was said out of place, and slowly the show starts to go off the rails. Though if you are already an MCU fan, you'll be well aware that something isn't right, as you probably know that the Avengers don't star in sitcoms and that one of them shouldn't be alive, let alone cracking wise.
The series becomes littered with sinister undertones and intrigue that's pretty easy to notice, and you'll always be aware that something is incredibly wrong in the happy-go-lucky town of Westview. This is especially true considering every episode practically ends on a nail-biting cliffhanger, that leaves you with more questions than answers. It's the suspense it creates, paired with its endearing personality that ensures Wandavision always has your attention and guarantees that you'll be dying of anticipation for the next episode.
While not everyone's a fan of the sit-com style, I highly recommend you stick with it. As the series goes on, later episodes return to the Marvel movie format we all know and love, and it's here things start to get real juicy. Thanks to the amount of legroom granted by the episodic format, the writers of the show are able to cram in a ton of hints and set up for the future of the MCU. The show introduces new and incredibly important characters we'll no doubt see again, elements familiar to fans of Marvel comics, and wider narrative developments that give us a taste of what to expect going forward. It even hosts some subtle (and obvious) nods to recently acquired Marvel properties that may or may not be making an appearance sooner than we expected. Thus, Wandavision ushers in the next phase of the MCU in a multitude of ways, helping it far exceed its movie counterparts in terms of significance and detail.
Overall, you should be watching this series, Marvel fan or not. While it does a lot for the MCU at large, it remains an incredibly charming and ambitious series that everyone can enjoy. Wandavision serves not only as a marvellous ode to the American sitcom but is also Marvel Studios' first triumphant step into the world of television that is beyond deserving of a spot in the MCU hall of fame.