Hello my little lights! The upside of being sick a lot is being able to play catch up with a lot of content you might have missed, and for me one of those pieces of content was WandaVision. I had watched the first three episodes and felt kinda “meh” about it but with six more episodes out there, I just had to check if that feeling had changed! At worst Wanda seemed like an excellent homemaker, so I might just learn some tricks to manage Paradise!
This Post will contain spoilers on WandaVision and older MCU Products
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WandaVision: The Sitcom
This show can roughly be divided into three parts, all give or take three episodes long. Phases as it were. The first three episodes this show presents like a sitcom. A progresive one with each episode dealing with a new decade and iconic sitcom to spoof. Episode 1 of WandaVision is set in the 50’s and heavily spoofs the Dick van Dyke show, while Episode 2 is in the sixties , showing a lot of similarities with BeWitched. Episode 3 is set in the seventies and borrows heavy influences from the Brady Bunch. All with just a splash of Twilight Zone mixed in between them. It’s lovely to spot all the smaller references and even the major ones , like the tripping on the stool Van Dyke used to do.. it’s all there and done very faithfully which makes this is a great homage… yet that is also a pretty big problem for me.
The first three episode of this show seem to be the most loved among those that I follow that had anything to say about this show.. but for me it has a huge flaw. These are kind of rehashes of old Dick van Dyke Episodes, the second episode really feels like a recast of Bewitched and the third episode feels like a nuttier unhinged episode of the Brady Bunch…but because of it… it doesn’t do that much new stuff other than blend in a mystery, yet if you have seen what happened before and if you know what Wanda can do in the comics as Scarlet Witch, the mystery is really REALLY obvious. That was confirmed to me at the end of episode 2. Which, I must admit is one of my favourite episodes of the show overall, just because I do kind of like Bewitched.. However I do not like The Brady Bunch or Dick van Dyke and as such those episodes kind of strike out for me.
I do have to say that Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Betanny have great on screen chemistry though! They also do the whole time skipping thing in a very funny way! There is so much love for sitcoms in this first part of the show, there is attention to detail and on a production level it works really well! The simple coloured in parts in episode two, the video effects, the fake commercials, it is all done very well. I just do not care about the subject matter of two out of those three episodes.. but I can see the good despite of it! Clearly this is a passion product and that is the saving grace of these three episodes. This is great experimental tv, that also pays tribute to tv of the past. This is something that has been done much outside of cartoons before, and it is very unmarvel at the start making it a more intriguing product. However if you come to get your Marvel action on, you kind of can kind of skip the first three episodes and not miss a single thing.
WandaVision: Agents of S.W.O.R.D.
The second act drops the focus on Wanda and shifts the focus to agent Monica Rambeau , who in the comics is better known as Miss Marvel 2, Spectre of Photon. She has heavy connections to Miss Marvel and somehow became part of Wanda’s little world and in the next few episodes we find out why. Monica Rambeau is played by Teyonah Parris and she is assisted by FBI agent Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park and the plucky Scientist Darcy Lewis, whom you might know from the Thor Movies played by Kat Dennings. Mostly the latter character really shines so much more for me than she did before. Darcy here is a charming character. I am not sure if I can say the same about Rambeau, while I love that we will get a more diverse cast in the marvel universe I could not really buy her story and her motivations. She is an extremely determined woman who lost her mother during the Blip and that makes her relate to Wanda so much that she is willing to break all kinds of rules and do her utmost to save Wanda?! I am not sure..while acted pretty decently I felt there was a lot of forced writing.
This is also the part where the show creators begin to do something about the whole “It’s too obvious” thing, as we are thrown for a loop on several occasions. We do establish indeed that it is Wanda who is doing all these things yet things do not always make sense. Stuff seems to happen without her intending it too. Like her dead brother showing up..strange! However he has been recast… by the Quicksilver from the Fox XMen Universe. That is hilarious! It is also what made the fanbase incredibly toxic.. They all felt that this could lead them into bringing the X-men into the MCU .. but Marvel doesn’t go that route and throws us a huge red herring, the likes of one in Iron Man 3. Fans are reacting super salty that their fan theory was not correct.. and I think heavily disagree with those fans! I LOVE that they threw some red herrings in there! This show was a little on the nose before.. but here the creators just make it fit into the MCU in their own way.. and thus WandaVision gets more needed identity in this second part. Even though half an episode is still clearly a spoof of Malcolm in the Middle, there is also more of an actual show moving throughout it. Albeit with a lot less mystery.
Unfortunately this is the part that suffers the most from the show just being 9 episodes. Of which 6 episodes are only 30 minutes long. Monica and Darcy uncover things a bit too fast for my liking. Which is enhanced by the fact that most of the fourth episode is just Darcy rewatching the first three episodes on an old tv. The next two episodes add in twists and turns and change the dynamic between Wanda and the Vision, which takes away that awesome chemistry. For a large part of the second and third act, the Wanda and Vision don’t interact with each other at all. Which dulls the experience of the third act a bit. That being said however I do really like the dynamic between humans trying to cope with a super powerful entity of questionable sanity and alliance. You do get invested in how this situation can be resolved and you get a certain sense of dread as it seems inevitable that this show can not end with a “happily ever after for everyone” While clearly the weakest part of the show it did provide the incentive to watch on.
WandaVision: The Marvel Movie
The third act plays out as a classical Marvel movie, including the hidden endings at the end, new people getting superpowers and a colourful cast of heroes and villains ending with an epic showdown. As a Marvel fan I was kind of pleased with this part! I haven’t read to much Scarlet Witch Comics but I am fairly aware of the bigger universe, so I actually knew who the main antagonist was at the moment she was introduced. It’s a nice character to meet Wanda since the two share a mentor-student relationship from Scarlet Witch her villain days. The character has her origins in the Fantastic Four comics though and I very much hope that they do not make that connection. After three different attempts to create a Fantastic Four Franchise, with only one of them getting a sequel, I think we are done with them for a while. We failed too often, now we need to give it some time to breathe. However with Wanda having a limited rogues gallery, I think the choice was nice. I allowed Wanda to blossom into Scarlet Witch finally and be a more defined character in terms of powers, mindset and her hero identity. I also like the choice to mirror this type of antagonist for Vision. Clever and it really opens possibilities for the future. Even in the case of the Vision , introducing his rival also felt like a huge cop-out! At least given how that encounter ended.
I think this part really does a pretty good job at making Wanda walk both the path of the hero and the villain, which is very much in line with the character in the comics. I’d say the series offers a more compelling product though, being both a hero and villain at the same time, rather than just be a redeemed character. Wanda has a darkness and an instability to her, she is aware of this and does not ask for forgiveness, instead she accepts what she has done and even Monica says she would have done the same in her situation! I really like this.. philosophy as it makes for much more compelling characters. Wanda has an insane amount of power and now that her powers have been explained to her, even more so, it makes sense that someone as broken as Wanda would abuse her powers and not just use it for good, unlike virtually every hero ….ever. Wanda feels so much more human and I love her for it. Darcy and Woo, really come alive during the last part as well and even Rambeau lightens up a bit and feels less like a Deus Ex Machina. I also liked the cleverness of the last battle. People argue that Wanda would not know how to do what she did.. but she can create towns.. I assume she can make some things she saw as well pretty easily.
What the third part lacks for me is pollish! Where the first part had so much love and attention to detail, that really dries up in the third part. We find out trough flashbacks that Wanda loved classic Sitcoms, but I don’t think that has been established very much before. We see an old 60’s tv to depict her Sakovian poverty , yet somehow they are able to connect a dvd player to it?! That should technically not even work! At least not here in Europe! There would not be any way to connect these two devices.. and while it is a nitpick.. the fact that they went through great lengths to duplicate sets and hairdo’s from original shows in the first part and now miss something as obvious as this just shows how the tone of this show shifts. We never seen Wanda display these traits before in any of the movies she was in, at least not to my knowledge, the Villain somehow escapes Wanda’s mind altering magic that effects everyone else, yet her entire thing is that she can steal power by being hit by a said power… so the why does not make sense. Monica gets powers and suddenly instinctively knows how to use them, a misguided cop goes from stickler for rules ot stone cold child killer in the bat of an eye…it all is epic and looks amazing and is super Marvel and satisfying.. however it all feels a bit like loose sand. That even messes with it’s own consequences one to many times.
Wandavision: The Show of Many Shows
I had a fairly good time with WandaVision , in fact I really came out of the conclusion pretty hyped! I really want to see Dr Strange and the Multiverse of Magic or whatever it is called now, which features Wanda. However after sleeping on it for a night… cracks began to show.. WandaVision has three parts that all have something compelling to offer in their own right! We get a fun experiment with old Sitcoms, we get an intriguing mystery that is solved by scientists and detectives and the likes and we get a bombastic Marvel Movie at the end.. that seems like a pretty good three course meal! And it is! The acting is great, the production is high level and doesn’t feel like a tv show at all! It feels movie quality almost all the way trough! Cool effects, great references, this is a great series to just geek out with! Even if it’s just for seeing more obscure marvel characters, cool red herrings that might be more.. and all that jazz. Throughout the journey I felt engaged to consume more and keep watching. Never have I seen a show that has been so many shows at once! Because It’s not just a sitcom, it is Dick van Dyke, it IS the Office, it IS modern family .. but it is also WandaVision and that on it’s own even has three versions! That is something so unique and fascinating and worth watching.
Yet at the same time.. this is also the greatest weakness of this show! Because all those versions of WandaVision don’t blend very well. The Sitcom tone is in shrill contast with the suffering people go through in this series. Yet because Deborah Jo Rubb (best known as Eric Forman’s Mother in That 70’s show) is type-cast as that Sitcom type character, suddenly believing this was a normal person being brainwashed.. feels… odd. Because Sitcom references are such a part of its DNA seeing sitcom actors take those roles counteracts that third act. The fact that the whole detective stuff is kind of blown out of the water by a supernatural force being an element in the third act, invalidates the second act a bit and this keeps happening. If you like the first part, the third part will feel too safe, if you mostly like the third act, the first act is bit too much out there. Especially when everything ends with basically a reset of the status quo. Except that Wanda now knows what her powers are and Rambeau will go into space.
In the end this is just yet another Marvel product where you need to have seen at least Captain Marvel, Avengers 2, Civil War, Avengers 3, Avengers 4 and kind of Spider Man Far From Home to get what is happening. You need to watch WandaVision to get full context of Dr Strange. Yet even in a 9 episode show we lack actual context. So we now know what Wanda’s power is, but have no idea why she has magic, why is her brother an Inhuman or a Mutant yet she is a witch? If Photon, or Miss Marvel 2 or whatever else Monica Rambeau uses (as she has like 9 hero names) gets a movie you have to also see this series, and I do not like that.
The C in the MCU stands for Cinematic and I think the important content should be limited to cinema. Sure this allows for deeper story telling, but honestly the first six episodes hardly matter to this show’s grander story. It could all be made into a movie by Darcy watching a comedy episode showing Wanda and Woo asking her what she is watching.. giving some explanation that Wanda in her grief erected a reality bubble and they are trying to free people..but some strange force is interfering.. and we could have all fitted it in a movie. So in the end while an enjoyable experience.. something isn’t right here. Normally I end with an allegory but the perfect allegory for this show.. is this show itself. The show within the show describes all the flaws and oddities of the product we get.
While I might be highly critical of the show, I still had a good time! However I also think that the Marvel formula is wearing a bit thin. I really enjoy the MCU, and Scarlet Witch/Wanda is very much a character I adore.. but I feel like the world is getting thinner.. stretched to far.. and this series kind of confirmed that for me! Do take in mind this is just my own opinion! If you had a great time , all the power to you! If you really disliked this, I am sorry it wasn’t your cup of tea! Regardless! I love you all my little lights! Shine on! Oyasumi!