I am a comic book fanatic and have been ever since I first sat down and watched the ’90s Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons. Ever since Iron Man (2008), Marvel has been creating this vast world that both comic book lovers like myself and people who see the colorful costumes and roll their eyes have fallen in love with over the past 12 years. The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has become a must watch phenomenon in today’s pop culture, and for the first time, after a year with no new Marvel content, we are returning to this fantastical world in the form of a limited series on Disney+. To in order to best encapsulate my thoughts on the series, I am going to assume you’ve watched all of the MCU films up to this point, and this review will contain semi-spoilers for episodes 1-5 (and an image from episode 6)—don’t worry, that last four episodes will not be spoiled here!
WandaVision is a 9-episode limited series about Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and the Vision (Paul Bettany) who find themselves in an almost too-perfect suburban life. In a blend of classic sitcoms through the ages, Wanda and Vision must navigate their new sitcom turmoils in their life while unraveling the mystery of how Vision has magically come back to life after the events of Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and how Wanda seems to be more in-the-know than she’s letting on.
This may be the best solo outing that Marvel Studios has ever produced, and is easily in my top 5 favorite MCU shows/movies. Being a loose adaptation of an amalgamation of the comic runs of Brian Michael Bendis’ House of M and Avengers Disassembled, Tom King’s run of The Vision, and Mantlo and Englehart’s The Vision and The Scarlet Witch, this show brought an incredibly woven story of love, grief, and trauma. Throughout the series I laughed, I cried, and sat awestruck at my screen. Every week for the past two months has consisted of my mind only being focused on WandaVision and what was coming next. Whether it was homages to many of the sitcoms I loved watching reruns of throughout the years, the return of some of my favorite MCU side characters, the building mystery and horror elements in the show, the introduction of one of my favorite comic characters of all time, or the fact that this entire show is about how to handle grief and trauma, every aspect of this show had me hooked and craving more.
The lead performances of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are absolutely stunning. I am not the type to immediately say, “this deserves an Emmy,” because there is just too much television that I do not have time to watch, but that said, their performances 100% deserve Emmy recognition for best Best Lead Actress/Actor. What makes their performances so good is a combination of things: the long development of their characters/relationship stemming all the way back to Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), the incredible writing done by the showrunner Jac Schaeffer and her team, and the sheer amount of raw talent both Olsen and Bettany bring. While they are both fantastic and are by far the best performances in the show, they were not alone. Kathryn Hahn playing the nosy neighbor, “Agnes”, is phenomenal and she stole every scene. The other “towns folk”—who included Debra Jo Rupp, David Payton, David Lengel, Asif Ali, and Emma Caulfield Ford to name a few—were fantastic as well.
This show also brought the return of some great side characters from past MCU films: Darcy Lewis played by Kat Dennings (from Thor (2011) and Thor: The Dark World (2013)), Agent Jimmy Woo played by Randall Park (from Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018)), and Monica Rambeau now being played by Teyonah Parris (originally played by Akira Akbar in Captain Marvel (2019)). All of these characters fit in perfectly with the story and it was fantastic getting more of and seeing these auxiliary characters post-snap. The performances of Dennings, Park, and Parris were all fantastic as well and I am very much looking forward to seeing them more in the future. Perhaps my favorite additions to the story, however, are the characters of Billy and Tommy Maximoff (primarily played by Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne respectively) who are the children of Wanda and Vision. Not only did I love them because of their insanely adorable moments, but also for what it could possibly mean for the future. In the comics Billy and Tommy become the heroes Wiccan and Speed, and Wiccan holds a special place in my heart as, in the comics, he is one of the first, most powerful, and most important gay superheroes ever written. Without spoiling the ending of WandaVision, all I will say is, I am extremely hopeful that Wiccan and Speed will continue in the future of the MCU—selfishly so because it means one of my favorite comic characters can be on the big screen, but also because of the fantastic stories that can be told with these characters.
If I have any complaints about the series, it solely has to do with pacing. Every episode, the final episode not included here, was painfully way too short as the “Please Standby” screen felt jarring every single week. Due to these short episodes, everything felt like it was getting thrown at you at a rapid pace and it felt extremely rushed at times. Like I said, however, this is my only complaint. This show was perfect in al other regards for me. While it is unfortunate that we will not get a second season, I am thrilled with what we got: the most imaginative and original Marvel content to date.
This Shakespearean entry in the MCU was phenomenal. For those who are a big superhero movie goers, the first few episodes may throw you off as they are straight sitcoms, but I urge you to stick with it. The emotional and story payoffs are 100% worth the journey, and the journey through the decades through the medium of sitcoms means so much once you discover why. This show is a must watch. Our next Disney+ MCU show is only two weeks away in Falcon and the Winter Soldier and we are expecting FOUR more shows (Loki, What If..?, Ms. Marvel, and Hawkeye) this year alone after that! All of these shows have an insane bar they’re looking to live up to now and here’s hoping they manage to excite as WandaVision did.