“WandaVision,” a classic sitcom with a Marvel twist, was released to Disney+ in a weekly episodic format from Jan. 15 to March 5. The show stars Marvel heroes Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) as the couple lives the idyllic small town life. The show draws inspiration from classic sitcoms, like “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” “Bewitched,” and “The Brady Bunch,” from the past 70 years of television.
I’m a casual consumer of Marvel media, really only getting into the Marvel Cinematic Universe after watching “Captain Marvel” in my freshman year. When I heard that Scarlet Witch was getting her own TV show, I was excited. It’s nice to see a diverse range of characters in positions of power, and “WandaVision” delivers. Wanda is not simply the love interest of Vision, nor is she the strong and unemotional lead who doesn’t need anyone’s help. Wanda is a complex character with deep emotions and flaws—something that is rarely explored in action films and TV shows.
The performances in “WandaVision” were strong, and each actor really committed to their part, even if that part was only the stereotypical sitcom boss or nosy neighbor. One of the strongest performances in my opinion was that of Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau. Parris perfectly balanced the vulnerability and strength of a character mourning the loss of a family member while also dealing with the crisis at hand. Overall, the show had the same high-quality acting and effects as Marvel’s movies do, which isn’t a surprise considering many of these actors will appear in future movies.
Before getting into the plot of the show (which will contain spoilers), I want to voice my few criticisms of the show—namely, its inaccessibility for people new to the MCU. “WandaVision” does an okay job of contextualizing larger events that the show is based on. However, knowing the concepts of past films definitely improves the viewing experience. Ideally, you should watch “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” “Avengers: Infinity War,” “Avengers: Endgame” and “Captain Marvel” before starting “WandaVision.” When watching the show with my family, who had never seen “Captain Marvel,” I found myself pausing to explain how characters knew each other. While I understand that Marvel is known for its interconnected storylines, I wish that “WandaVision” was created with the intent of bringing in new viewers, instead of depending heavily on the understanding of four other movies.
Spoilers Ahead: Skip to the final paragraph of this article if you want to avoid spoilers for the first four episodes of “WandaVision.”
The first few episodes of the show are framed as sitcoms from the 50s, 60s and 70s starring superheroes Wanda Maximoff and Vision. How and why they got there is a mystery, seemingly even to the characters themselves. In these episodes, Wanda and Vision deal with classic sitcom shenanigans, such as having to hide their powers from Vision’s boss or investigating an odd noise outside their window.
It is only in episode two, when Wanda finds a red helicopter in a bush, that we realize that the world might be a little more complicated than expected. In episode three, things grow increasingly more sinister, with Vision’s neighbors warning him about the new girl on the block, Geraldine. By the beginning of episode four, we are taken outside the sitcom world and placed back in the present era, just after the end of “Avengers: Endgame.” We learn that Geraldine is actually the recently un-snapped SWORD employee Monica Rambeau, and that the town where Wanda and Vision live is unenterable and under investigation. This modern-era outside investigation is featured alongside Wanda and Vision’s sitcom hijinks in the following episodes.
At this point, the show starts to look more like an action movie and less like a simple sitcom. For those who came into the show with the expectation of a lighthearted, fun sitcom, this may be a disappointment. But for those who know the characters’ history and were curious as to why Vision is alive or how Wanda and Vision got there, this might be exciting. The show does not have one style, and that can be a strength or weakness depending on your preferences in genre.
“WandaVision” is a new twist on the superhero genre and a creative homage to classic sitcoms. It explores the power and despair of Wanda Maximoff and does a great job conveying the complexities of grief. The performances are compelling and fit well in the dynamic style of the show. Whether you will enjoy “WandaVision” depends on your own MCU knowledge and your expectations going into the show. If you are interested in a sitcom featuring two superheroes that has a few twists and surprises along the way, the show is definitely worth a try. All nine episodes of “WandaVision” are available now to stream on Disney+.