CONTAINS SPOILERS for WandaVision, and the MCU to date.
Just like that, with Wandavision, we’re in Marvel Phase 4. And things are taking a turn for the curious.
To start with a show out of time and place in its own cinematic universe is fitting, considering it’s out of time with its own release schedule. Scheduled for Spring 2021 post Black Widow, Falcon & Winter Soldier, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Eternals, to be concurrently aired with Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. It seems an odd jumping off point for a whole new phase of shenanigans, perhaps we’re meant to have a bit more set dressing in those remove cogs before they’re gummed up by a pesky pandemic.
To give a slight re-cap of the current situation, Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home left the remaining Avengers broken. Few have made it through from the days of Avengers Assemble. Black Widow and Iron Man are gone, Cap has passed on the mantle to the Falcon, Hawkeye has retired again (for the last time). Thor’s off to space with a new crew, and Bruce has finally learned to live in the limelight.
So where does that leave who remains? For Wanda Maximoff it seems to be a simulacrum of every US TV sitcom of the past 70 years. This is definitely a show that’s not afraid to wear its source material on its sleeve. It’s an almighty pastiche of I Love Lucy, Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Angel (no, not the Buffy one) as we marched from the 50’s to the 60s in these two episodes.
Wanda’s ReVision: A World Where All Is Not As It Seems
Yet under the façade of the perfect couple in the perfect neighbourhood is the feeling all is not right. Those who have been keeping up with the MCU over the past 13 years are aware of this from the get-go. We all know Vision is dead and Wanda is grieving but here they are. In a town where troubles are minor and everyone seems to get along swell, all to a period appropriate soundtrack.
It’s all shades of Pleasantville and there’s always the feeling of something isn’t quite right, the devil is in the detail after all. We’re peppered with references to the wider MCU, references to House of M, The Grim Reaper, Stark Industries and Strucker / Hydra leave us guessing ourselves. There were many times in each episode where I started the sentence “Did I just..”
An eerie sense of dread pervades behind the sitcom laughs, both throughout the set dressing and the superb cast of supporting actors. It’s very much a feeling of surrounded by masked figures (appropriate in the current landscape) and un-realness, channelling that same sense of foreboding of that other classic 60’s show The Prisoner. We’re all aware something’s not right, there’s a wilder world past this place and something DEFINITELY wants in.
A visionary cast
It’s great to see Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda and Paul Bettany’s Vision given a chance to breathe. We got glimpses into their relationship throughout both Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War, but character development can be scant for such bombastic action heavy cinema. In WandaVision the restrictions are removed and we can soak in their relationship, such as it is. We receive glances of the dual roles Wanda is playing too, keeping reality out to allow the world of Westview to thrive.
Kathryn Hahn’s Agnes is a delight so far, ingratiating herself into the perfect couple, keeping us informed of her as yet-unseen husband Ralph… Is there more to this? Maybe Senor Sparky might give us a clue! I’m sure we’ll get more of Teyonah Parris’s Geraldine, Jolene Purdy’s Beverley and Emma Caulfield Ford’s Dottie in the coming weeks. But, before then, the creeping anxiety may start to pick apart Westview at the seams.
Not too scary though, we’ve got to remember, it’s for the children too…
WandaVision is currently airing on Disney+