After an unintended yearlong break, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is back with their first show for Disney+, WandaVision. The first two episodes have been released on Disney+ and it sees the MCU go in an unusual direction.
Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) have moved into retro suburban America. Vision works as a company that does something, and Wanda is a housewife. They must deal with typical sitcom situations like cooking a meal for Vision’s boss and the pair having to perform at a neighborhood talent show. However, the suburban bliss is not all that it appears.
Out of all the Marvel Disney+ shows WandaVision was the one I was the most interested in. It seemed the most unique out of all the shows because of its visual style and retro approach. The first two episodes harp to sitcoms of the 1950s and ‘60s, particularly The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched. They were both filmed in black-and-white, the aspect ratio was 4:3 and both episodes had title sequences that homage to the aforementioned sitcoms. The humor presented was also like what was in those shows like Vision causing a distraction to prevent his guests from seeing chaos in the kitchen and Wanda trying to fit in with the fellow housewives. Their superpowers added to the mix.
The first two episodes were more than just sitcom shenanigans. Vision died in Avengers: Infinity War and Wanda came back from the dead. This leads to questions about what’s really going on. The suburban world had a Truman Show/The Stepford Wives vibe because it seems perfect but there’s something more sinister going on. Even in the first episode Wanda and Vision get hints that not everything is what it seems, like not knowing what the message on the calendar meant and there were questions like what Vision’s company does, or why they don’t have wedding rings? It reminded a little bit of the scene in Inception where Ariadne realized she was in a dream.
The big question is Marvel doing a “House of M” style storyline where Wanda created an alternate reality to cope with her grief or is she being manipulated in some way. The first two episodes provide evidence for both cases. The first episode ends with the couple being watched on TV and the second episode showed Wanda changing the fabric of reality.
The first two episodes had a fair amount of surrealism to them. There were moments where the illusion of the sitcom was broken. In the first episode there was the eeriness of the dinner scene, whilst the second episode had the appearance of the Beekeeper. The surrealism, retro-styling, and the potential broken mental state of the main character made WandaVision seem like the MCU’s version of Legion. This surrealism and mystery give the series its hook and you would want to see where the story goes.
Even at this early stage WandaVision is a bizarre series that properly won’t please casual fans of the MCU who are more used to action and spectacle. It is an interesting homage to TV of yesteryear, and it would be interesting to see where the series goes.