Marvel’s WandaVision: the right show for the right time.

A review of Marvel’s new Disney+ show, WandaVision.

WandaVision stars Elizabeth Olsen (left) and Paul Bettany (right) speaking about the series at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con.

Photo courtesy of Creative Commons

WandaVision stars Elizabeth Olsen (left) and Paul Bettany (right) speaking about the series at the 2019 San Diego Comic Con.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a pop culture behemoth for the past decade, riding on the heroic coattails of The Dark Knight Trilogy and expanding on what many believed a movie series could be. 

The MCU shaped American mediascape in phases. The first phase introduced the characters that came to be the original Avengers team, the second phase was those characters’ sequel films, the third phase introduced new iconic characters, such as Spider-Man and Black Panther. In 2019, phase three concluded with the film Avengers: Endgame, which is currently the highest grossing film in the international box office of all time. 

Phase four kicked off in the summer of 2019 with Spider-Man: Far From Home. The second film in this phase was supposed to be the long anticipated Black Widow movie, but the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdowns halted the release.

 One aspect of phase four that distinguished it from the other phases in the MCU is it’s incorporation of mini-series’, released to Disney’s streaming service, Disney+. So, despite the delays in releasing content, the MCU’s first Disney+ show and the second addition to phase four, WandaVision, was released on January 15, 2021. 

WandaVision is a stark contrast to the fast-paced narratives of the Marvel movies, with a unique concept that helps it stand out from the rest of the MCU. 

The show takes place in the fictional, regionally ambiguous suburb of Westview, which cycles through the decades parodying beloved sitcoms such as Bewitched and The Brady Bunch.

The first three episodes have a surprising lack of action for a series about superheroes. So far, WandaVision seems more compatible as a romantic sitcom than a show about an Avenger. However, this works to the series’ advantage. 

Many critics prefer to analyze a show without taking social climate into account. WandaVision needs to be analyzed with the social climate in mind, because an aspect of the show that would’ve been a weakness in different times, is one of the show’s greatest strengths. In the era of bad news, WandaVision has managed to provide some form of nostalgic escapism for the first seventeen minutes of each episode. Viewers can quickly find themselves wrapped up in the silly antics and bubbly romance of Wanda and Vision, who are portrayed more as quirky newly-weds than superheroes who have saved the universe. 

However, this show still satisfies longtime Marvel fans. The episodes are, on average, twenty-two minutes long. While seventeen minutes may be full of fluff, the remaining five are full of plot.

The show is eerily similar to The Truman Show, in that not everything is quite as it seems. There’s small clues in each of the episodes that allude that something greater is at play in Westview.

Most prominently, each episode is interrupted by a commercial parodying the advertisements of the decade each episode is set in. The commercials are full of easter eggs for longtime fans, such as products being made by HYDRA, which as many veteran fans would know is the name of the nazi-supervillain organization from the Captain America franchise. 

Ultimately, while WandaVision may be slow-paced so far, in this time it has provided a funny, mystifying sitcom with enough plot to keep it recognizable as an MCU show, even if there’s no way that the pedantic shenanigans will last and the show will eventually reveal its long-brewing mystery. 

Episode four of WandaVision releases on Disney+ February 5, 2021.