There is no end to the number of compliments you can pay the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s a franchise that took B-List characters, and made them top tier, it’s one of the few franchises to make an interconnected universe of movies, that actually works and makes sense (mostly). And the fourth phase of the ever-expanding MCU proves just how far the cinematic universe has come with the truly mind-bending WandaVision.
WandaVision is a show filled with more twists and turns than you could cast a spell at, anchored by some incredible performances, superhero origins, tragic realisations, new bad guys, and just about everything else you could want after over a year without any MCU content at all.
In terms of story, WandaVision stands above the rest of the MCU, as being truly out there and very very different (at least at first).
Generally speaking, the MCU played it pretty safe with a lot of its movies. Even more recent origin stories, follow a similar format to the original Iron Man – although you know, if it ain’t broke don’t applies – definitely applies here. But with movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man, the universe started to fully embrace comedy, and subvert the usual format.
And yet neither Guardians nor Ant-Man, or even a total character overhaul like with Thor Ragnarok, could prepare viewers for the wild ride that is WandaVision, which takes its audience on a twisting journey through the several generations of television, whilst also unravelling a smart, and emotion-filled story that showcases some amazing character development for multiple people, but none more so than Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff.
The main narrative, ignoring the format and sitcom influences for just a minute, follows Wanda and Vision after Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, where if anyone forgot, Vision died in Infinity War. And so for the two to suddenly be back together, with Vision alive, would be weird enough, but then adding in the fact that the first episode is in the style of a black and white 1950s sitcom, it’s clear from the start that something very weird is happening.
But that is exactly the point of WandaVision’s early episodes, to make the viewer, and Vision himself, question what is happening, why they appear to be living in a tv show, that keeps changing genre and time period, who is behind it all, and why.
As the show progresses, the era and genres of the tv show change and viewers get a glimpse of what’s happening outside of Wanda’s world with characters like Monica Rambeau, a grown-up version of the song girl we first met in Captain Marvel, the return of Jimmy Woo from Ant-Man and the Wasp, and Darcy Lewis from the first two Thor movies.
But where the show really hooks you, is that it’s somewhat obvious, or at least your supposed to think it is, that Wanda is making this world around her. And yet something feels off.
I’ll get into whether or not the show stuck that landing, and whether it’s the shows fault, or audiences for theorising too much, in a minute. In the show Vision really acts as the audience conduit, as he slowly starts to realise something isn’t right in the town of Westview, and yet there is plenty we know as an audience that he doesn’t (like who the Avengers are).
The WandaVison story is crazy, intriguing, easter egg-filled, and an expert recreation of several iconic shows and genres, but most importantly it is essential viewing for the MCU.
Although at first it could have been seen as a show for the most hardcore of fans, focusing on two of the least important Avengers, helped out by a supporting cast of the supporting cast from other MCU movies
What the show actually delivered is so much more, all centred around a powerful character and emotion-filled story for both Wanda and Vision.
In terms of the final episode, which I think needs to be discussed on it’s own – I can’t help but feel a little disappointed.
Mainly as it left so many threads hanging and gave some answers we all kind of expected, which is extra disappointing given that early on the show established a very surprise-filled format, so ultimately I was hoping the things I expected weren’t what was actually happening.
There is absolutely no denying that the through-line of the story between Wanda and Vision was incredible and that both Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany used WandaVision to show off how incredibly talented they both are.
And the last episode takes their performances to a new level, with a heartbreaking goodbye between the two, giving Wanda the goodbye she deserved from Infinity War, and giving her the acceptance stage of grief – (which when you look back on the show really has explored each stage of grief).
But as I mentioned earlier, I was a little disappointed with the final episode, but I can’t decide if that’s on the show for not delivering on all it set up or on me for taking every little thing and thinking it meant some crazy theory was going to play out.
Ultimately though it might be somewhere in between.
Hayward seemed like way too much of a one-note bad guy throughout, almost as if someone else was in control of him, but no. He really was just a one-note bad guy, who had a relatively see-through plan and just wanted to get more power.
Evan Peters as Pietro, really was just a fake-out and not a multiverse thing where he had been brought in from the X-Men movies universe, which in the end, due to the amount of time we spent with him, felt like an unsatisfying answer rather than a clever real-world nod.
The double Vision thing was a cool scene, but White Vision just flew off… like surely we should have got some kind of hint or tease at what’s going on there – if the show called WandaVISION isn’t where you tell us what’s going on with the new Vision I don’t know what is (the day after I publish this post they’ll probably announce a new “Vision” Disney Plus show).
Another drawback of the final episode was that it just felt a little too familiar as a final part of an MCU movie, especially for what the show had set up leading into it.
It was the standard good guy and bad guy fighting with similar powers and a clever way for the hero to win based on them being smarter, or on something they learned earlier (like we saw in Iron Man, Ant-Man, and Black Panther and plenty of other superhero movies).
In fact, we got that twice here, in both in the Agatha vs Wanda fight and the Vision vs. White Vision fight…
I’m not saying Wanda putting the runes over the town and outsmarting Agatha wasn’t cool, because it really was. I just think it fell into the trap of delivering what people expect from a superhero story, which is disappointing with how the show started. WandaVision went out of its way to give us a crazy, genre-defying, mind-bending story, and if WandaVision isn’t the show that can change how superhero stories have to end, then I really don’t know what it’s going to take.
That’s also just made me realise I haven’t mentioned Kathryn Hahn at all so far, she is amazing, Agnes/Agatha was amazing, and we should all worship Kathryn Hahn…
Oh and while we’re on things I haven’t mentioned so far, I think any sins of the last episode are totally undone by Wanda’s incredible new costume, which looks better than ever.
My final point on the finale is that it shows Wanda saying goodbye to both of her children and Vision, with her accepting she can’t keep Westview enslaved any more, and that neither her children nor this Vision are real, and yet the final post-credits scene shows that she hasn’t accepted that at all and wants to find another or alternate version of her kids – so she’s kind of moving on, but not.
Is she going to be the bad guy in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness? Would it work for Wanda to go to another reality and steal the children from a different Wanda and Vision, maybe that Wanda comes in as the bad guy?
Who knows, and it’s definitely intriguing, but I think it’s intriguing in an “oh okay – something is happening there” way – and not a “holy fucking shit, Wanda, what are you doing – oh my god” kind of way – which the show really had the opportunity to end on.
But those complaints aside, WandaVision is an incredible show, one that takes a bunch of lesser supporting characters, and two of the lesser Avengers and gives them their chance to shine.
The show (at least at first) shows how far the MCU has come, and that it can take more and more risks, give us weird stories and shows with characters you don’t really care about, and turn all of that into something special.
The series starts off Phase 4 of the MCU with a bang, shows what audiences can expect from the Disney Plus Marvel offerings, and more than satisfies fans coming off the longest gap in any MCU content since 2009….
Thanks to anyone who has made it this far into my ramblings – if you liked the video please like and subscribe on YouTube for lots more MCU, superhero, and Pop Culture content, and let me know your thoughts on WandaVision in the comments.