“This is our home now.”
Starting off by thrusting us into the world of sitcoms of old, Wandavision has been a constant source of intrigue, excitement and confusion each week. Starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, a powerful mutant who, after losing the love of her life, Paul Bettany‘s android Vision, is discovered as the star of her own sitcom within a community that can’t be entered or communicated with from the outside, and Vision, who met his untimely end at the hands of the Titan Thanos, is seemingly alive, well and married to Wanda.
If Wandavision has been trying to do anything it’s getting its audience to constantly read between the lines, as we tune in each week for a new episode of Wanda’s sitcom that gradually progresses through noticeable eras of television, we learn a little more about the trauma Wanda is going through, and what she’s having to do to (literally) hold her whole world together. Filled with wacky references and cleverly planted Easter eggs, including fake adverts for the sitcom, the show challenges the idea that nothing we see on-screen can ever be taken for face value, which isn’t exactly something Marvel fans are used to. Although the MCU has teased plenty of reveals, the usual style is quite upfront and obvious, like Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury dropping his intergalactic pager at the end of Infinity War, even if you didn’t recognize Captain Marvel’s symbol, a quick Google search would have had you clued in pretty quick. But with Wandavision it’s not been so easy, for avid comic book fans there’s always plenty to unpack and mull over, and for those that have only ever watched the MCU films there’s answers (and of course questions) to be had regarding film plots and threads, but where is this all going?
The show’s narrative follows on directly from one episode to the next, but the overall direction of the Wandavision seems to fluctuate each week, with bizarre anomalies, major MCU plot points and barrier-breaking character reveals, it seems Marvel wants to over-stimulate their loyal weekly viewers, but is that because Multiverse of Madness, the film which is said to follow on from Wandavision‘s events, is even more bonkers than the genre-bending show and Marvel are just trying to ease us in gently? The narratives of each episode have been showing us that there’s more possible in the MCU canon than previously thought, and thankfully it’s pushing boundaries in an exciting way.
Until James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the MCU as a whole was rather standard for superhero films, they had a formula and they liked it, but Gunn’s colourful space epic and it’s subsequent sequel changed the way we view Marvel’s films by allowing more creativity from the voices behind the camera to shape the media into something more unique, giving Marvel even more of a USP than they already had over long-time rival company DC. Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok switched things up even more, building on Gunn’s fondness for comedic elements, Waititi turned it up to the max, and produced one of the best superhero films to come out in the last decade. Now Wandavision goes even further and highlights an interesting look at what the future of superhero media could look like.
Olsen and Bettany make good leads, and Kathryn Hahn, Kat Dennings, Teyonah Parris and Randall Park are more influential than just side characters and make up an ensemble cast that feels like it shouldn’t work but totally does, but like the fictional sitcom, this is Wanda’s or rather, Olsen‘s show. Previously a rather scarce but powerful presence in the MCU, she really has so much room here to show that she can act with brilliant range and so much convincing emotion that anything previous that Wanda was in, you watch completely differently because Olsen has opened up the character in ways that before would have been unthinkable, it really makes you wonder why Wanda, and Olsen‘s clear talent have been so underutilised up until this point.
Wandavision takes great strides as it moves away from it’s faux sitcom status and turns its eye to the world beyond Westview as important gazes start to focus on the little community shut off from the rest of the world, and although we never move that far, the desire to do so doesn’t last, as after the first three episodes all you really want to know is, what’s up with Wanda? As the show draws to a close we are treated to some pretty big revelations and just a dash of juicy fan service here and there, but ultimately the journey from start to finish has been about fleshing out the character of Wanda, giving her a stride, and allowing her to develop into so much more than just a side character in someone else’s story.
All episodes of Wandavision are available to stream on Disney+