WandaVision (Disney Plus) Review

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Plot: Marvel Studios presents WandaVision, a blend of classic television and the Marvel Cinematic Universe in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) – two super-powered beings living idealized suburban lives – begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.

TV Review, Disney+, WandaVision, Marvel Studios, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn, Marvel, Superhero, Comic Book, Avengers

Review: It is hard to believe we have gone over an entire year without any new adventures from Marvel Studios. While Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe was announced back in 2019 and was supposed to kick off with Black Widow, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench in the works resulting in all of Marvel's big-screen endeavors being pushed. That left the Disney+ offerings as our sole way to explore the MCU and our first taste of this new storytelling format is WandaVision. Starring Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany as Wanda Maximoff and Vision, this small screen experience is by far the most unique project from Marvel Studios but one that is setting up to be vital to their storytelling approach moving forward.

The new series is directed by Matt Shakman from a story by creator and head writer Jac Schaeffer (Black Widow). Having seen the first three episodes of WandaVision, I can honestly say that while this could have worked as a feature film, it is absolutely perfect for television. Yes, the production values are cinematic and on par with everything else Marvel Studios has done, but the evolution of the sitcom format from episode to episode works because we are watching it at home and not at a movie theater. But from the familiar opening to the artistic closing credits, this is through and through a Marvel Studios offering. What is distinct in WandaVision is that over the first ninety minutes of the story, there is minimal action and some super-heroics but instead gives us a nostalgic reminder of the classic sitcoms of the 1950s through the 1970s and beyond. Keeping each episode consistent with the visual and production styles of those decades, WandaVision is a love letter to classic television complete with nods to period-specific commercials.

As for MCU fans, WandaVision is firmly connected to the cinematic universe as a whole and references past films like Avengers: Age of Ultron and Infinity War as well as teasing future projects which I will not name here. Eagle-eyed fans will spot many easter eggs, some of which are visible in the trailers, but there are a lot more left to unpack. Like Disney+ series The Mandalorian, each episode clocks in at approximately half an hour which gives just the right amount of time to replicate the 22-minute length of network sitcoms plus some additional scenes that explain what is going on in the overarching narrative of WandaVision. From the unique opening sequences and theme songs to the gues cast that includes Debra Jo Rupp, Fred Melamed, Kathryn Hahn, and Emma Caulfield, Marvel Studios alumni like Kat Dennings and Randall Park don't figure into these first episodes directly, but keep your ears open for clues as to when they will. WandaVision is an impeccable look back at half a century of television while still setting up the future of the Marvel movies. And it all hinges on the performances of Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany.

Until now, both Wanda and Vision have been supporting characters and this series is a fun way to explore who they are and what they represent to the MCU. From voicing J.A.R.V.I.S. to embodying Vision, Paul Bettany has always played his role with only a hint of emotion. After Endgame, I never expected Vision to be one of the most fun characters in the MCU. Emulating Dick Van Dyke and Desi Arnaz amongst other classic sitcom leads, Bettany is hilarious as he balances disbelief with pratfalls and humor with the darker truth lurking under the surface of the story. Elizabeth Olsen also gets to finally take center stage as we finally begin to learn just how strong Wanda is. Her ability to face off opposite Thanos shows her strength and here we begin to see how that strength impacts her as a human being.

TV Review, Disney+, WandaVision, Marvel Studios, Paul Bettany, Elizabeth Olsen, Kathryn Hahn, Marvel, Superhero, Comic Book, Avengers

But what really makes WandaVision work is that it is not hyper-focused on the Marvel universe from the outset. It is a testament to Jac Schaeffer's story and Matt Shakman's direction that this series is so weird and so fun. Had I never seen a single Marvel Studios film, I would have still found this a kooky and fun series. It is referential without being self-referential which allows the artifice of the live studio audience, multi-camera filmmaking to live and breathe as realistically as any other realm seen in the MCU. The only detriment I can see for WandaVision will be the weekly episode premieres. While that schedule worked for The Mandalorian's serialized storytelling, at least over these first few episodes I imagine some fans being left wondering why more doesn't happen from episode to episode. That could all change once all nine have debuted and we can go back and rewatch them. But, for now, there doesn't seem to be enough comic book substance in each episode for the more ardent MCU fans.

While the first three episodes may seem, on the surface, to be an arbitrary addition to the Marvel Studios canon, there is a definite sense that something big is coming down the line. By the end of this series, we should have a better idea of how this ties into Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness. For now, WandaVision is a solid introduction for the MCU to Disney+ because it does not try to be a feature film but an event series that explores a very specific facet of the larger cinematic universe. I would be content for this to be the only season of WandaVision, but the smile on my face every time Bettany and Olsen appeared in the episodes I have seen makes me hope they find a way to continue this story in the future. For now, I am content that this show is not like anything else Marvel, Disney, or any other studio. WandaVision is wholly original and a lot of fun.

WandaVision premieres on January 15th on Disney+.

WandaVision (Disney Plus) Review


Source: JoBlo.com

About the Author

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Alex Maidy has been a JoBlo.com editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been JoBlo.com's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.