Beginning Marvel’s phase four phase, WandaVision is a unique and interesting new addition to the MCU. Created by Jac Schaeffer, the show sees the reunion of Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff (or Scarlet Witch) and Paul Bettany’s Vision after Avengers: Endgame (2019) saw the death of the latter and thus separation of the couple.
Taking quite a turn from the action-heavy movies, the first two episodes see Wanda and Vision seem to be in a sitcom from the 50s, complete with laughter track and mother-in-law jokes. The duo struggle with fitting into their new town whilst concealing their superhuman powers. Classic sitcom antics ensue – Vision must impress his new boss by hosting dinner which Wanda has to pull together using her telekinesis, while during a magic show a malfunctioning Vision decides to give the audience some real magic while Wanda comically invents explanations for the tricks.
However, as you’d expect, everything isn’t quite as it seems. Weird things start to happen: Wanda hears voices on the radio calling her name; they can’t remember why they came to the town; and a strange figure emerges from a manhole. By the end of episode one, it becomes clear that there is someone behind the scenes, watching. Additionally, once per episode, there’s a commercial featuring something that links back to the MCU that we know – a Stark Industries toaster or a Hydra watch – reminding us that there’s something lurking below the surface level frivolity.
Strange as it seems, the sitcom premise it isn’t just a kooky setting but WandaVision genuinely works as a comedy – I found myself laughing a lot, perhaps partly encouraged by the laughter track, but taken away from the universe of the Avengers, two superhuman beings pretending to be normal is an excellent sitcom idea. There’s also some great supporting performances, especially from Kathryn Hahn as she absolutely nails Agnes, the nosy neighbour type. But more than anything, WandaVision gives Wanda and Vision a heart that has been missing from the films.
Since their introduction in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) Wanda and Vision have never particularly engaged me. I wasn’t invested in their characters or relationship, finding them to be rather dull and serious, perhaps because they never got the screen time to develop fully – however now in WandaVision I feel completely differently. Bettany and Olson shine as a comedic duo, with Bettany taking on the more chaotic-eccentric role whereas Olson plays the straight-man trying to keep the act together. It’s silly fun and it really works to bring these characters to life.
Marvel has an awful habit of romantically pairing characters who have no business being together, but here I finally feel it makes sense and I believe in Vision and Wanda as a couple, which I never really felt in the films. They seem charming and fun, their chemistry sparks – so much so you actually care about why they’re there and what the hell’s going on.
After these first two episode, I have been left thoroughly invested in the story – which I was not expecting. The set-up is somehow enjoyable in itself but knowing there’s something more going on here and the little hints that we’re fed is keeping up the intrigue. However, it’ll be Olsen and Bettany’s performances that will be keeping me tuning in.
Adventure, Comedy | USA, 2021 | NC | 15th January 2021 | Disney+ |Created: Jac Schaeffer | Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings