REVIEW: ‘WandaVision,’ Episodes 1 and 2

Reading Time: 3 minutes

WandaVision

Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe begins with the first two episodes of the limited series WandaVision. Newly married, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) head to the small suburban town of Westview to live in wedded bliss. However, Wanda and Vision cannot recall any details about their wedding and an uneasiness lurks under Westview’s picture-perfect exterior.

The series arrives after the COVID-19 pandemic led to several of Marvel Studios’ projects for 2020 being pushed back over the next two years. In fact, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was intended to be the first Marvel Studios series on Disney+. WandaVision is more than a welcome reintroduction to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, as well as a smaller-scaled story compared to the time-traveling epic that was Avengers: Endgame. However, it still manages to be engaging thanks to its concept of paying homage to various sitcoms over the years, as well as the performances from its two leads.

That approach fits perfectly with the genre experimentation that many comic book-based shows and films have approached over the years, especially where the MCU is concerned. Black Panther blended Afrofuturism with Shakespeare and James Bond, while Guardians of the Galaxy was a throwback to sci-fi cult classics including Flash Gordon. With WandaVision, director Matt Shakman and writers Jac Shaffer and Gretchen Enders capture the “small-town values” that sitcoms like The Dick Van Dyke Show and Bewitched did back in the 1950s and 1960s. The latter is especially prominent throughout the first two episodes, given Wanda’s reality-bending powers and an animated title sequence that homages Bewitched in episode 2. Kudos should also go to Frozen songwriters Robert Anderson-Lopez and Kristen Lopez, as well as composer Christophe Beck, for coming up with a theme and music that also fits the show. There’s even a laugh track!

Olsen and Bettany are just as perfect at comedy as they are at superheroics. Bettany gets the lion’s share of hilarious lines and reactions, from quotes about his robotic nature to a mishap with a stick of Big Red gum. Olsen plays the straight woman, always having a witty remark or solution to the problems they encounter. She also has several surprisingly emotional moments as well, including a scene in the premiere that is downright chilling. The other standout performance belongs to Kathryn Hahn as Wanda and Vision’s nosy next-door neighbor Agnes, who has the “Stepford Housewife” vibes down pat.

While WandaVision will no doubt reel viewers in with its sitcom homages, the eerie elements that are laced throughout the episodes are the biggest draw. The aforementioned scene in the premiere slowly features the laugh track dying out, as Wanda and Vision struggle to remember the details of their marriage. Other elements, including a disembodied voice calling out to Wanda and a mysterious beekeeper, feel like they were ripped out of the Twilight Zone or the comics that inspired the series-particularly Avengers Disassembled. That’s not even getting into the mystery of how Vision is alive, considering his demise at the hands of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War.

WandaVision provides an enchantingly entertaining start to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its first two episodes, particularly in terms of its concept and lead performances. Fans who have missed seeing Marvel’s heroes on the big screen will definitely want to tune in for this show.

The first two episodes of WandaVision are currently available to stream on Disney+.

'WandaVision,' Episodes 1 and 2
  • 9/10
    Rating - 9/10
9/10

TL;DR

WandaVision provides an enchantingly entertaining start to Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in its first two episodes, particularly in terms of its concept and lead performances. Fans who have missed seeing Marvel’s heroes on the big screen will definitely want to tune in for this show.