‘WandaVision’ Season 1 Review

To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, WandaVision is the first of many Disney+ miniseries and shows set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Meaning it shares continuity with the films of the franchise. Produced by Kevin Feige with Jac Schaeffer serving as creator/head writer and Matt Shakman directing, the series stars Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Parris, Randall Park, Kat Dennings, and Evan Peters. The story follows Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Vision after the events of the film Avengers: Endgame as they settle down for a seemingly normal suburban life in Westview, New Jersey. To properly review a series such as WandaVision, some spoilers must be discussed so if you have not finished the show do not read any further.

From the start we are treated to Wanda and Vision living out their lives in a variety sitcoms seemingly without memory of their former lives. This is especially unusual due to Vision’s double death at the end of Avengers: Infinity War. Over time the viewer sees that Wanda and Vision are “trapped” in the Westview anomaly a.k.a. the hex, which turns out to be a creation of Wanda’s grief. Being a miniseries, we are treated to increased screen time for some of the fan-favorite smaller characters in the MCU such as the return of Dr. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) who hasn’t been seen since Thor: The Dark World, FBI Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) from Ant-Man and the Wasp and an adult version of Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) from Captain Marvel. We are given little nods to their character growth that serve as big payoffs for fans of these movies. We see Jimmy do a magic trick, Darcy having her doctorate in astrophysics and not political science and Monica being an agent of S.W.O.R.D.

There is also more elaboration on Wanda’s backstory which is briefly mentioned in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The sitcom like nature of the hex is based on Wanda’s love for television. She used to watch American shows with her family in part to learn English and to escape the reality of living in a war-torn Sakovia. It is also shown that she potentially already had magical powers and that the Mind Stone only enhanced what was already there. All of this information is shown to us by Agnes/Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn) who turns out to be a witch wanting to figure out what makes Wanda capable of creating and sustaining the hex without any prior magical knowledge.

In terms of visuals everything seen is on par with a theatrically released MCU film. The show is vastly better looking than previous Marvel television shows such as Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Inhumans. With a reported budget of around $200 million it looks like the money was used very well. WandaVision has the most creative cinematography used in any television series. The aspect ratio is used interestingly as it routinely switches from 5:4, to 4:3 to 16:9 depending on the time period of each “episode” or the location of the characters. There are times where it’s like watching television in the 50s or a movie in an IMAX theater. This allows for intimate moments between characters in the home or full-scale superhero battles around the town to connect seamlessly.

The writing is also beautiful and allows us great performances from our leads. Elizabeth Olsen is probably the best she’s ever been as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch. Her character has finally lost everything thing and is pretty much broken. The scene where she visits the plot of land Vision purchased for them is a tear jerker for sure. Paul Bettany is also fantastic as an unsure Vision. He still looks like the character we have come to love, but being a creation of Wanda he’s not all there. Watching him figure out the nature of his existence and his limited memory is a driving factor for the show. The scene stealer for sure is Kathryn Hahn. I have to say she was a lot more interesting as Agnes than Agatha. Her nosy neighbor persona provided the right amount of comedy when the show gets a little serious. Also “Agatha All Along” is one of the greatest theme songs of all time.

One of the most noteworthy aspects of the streaming series is that, save for the first two, each episode is released week to week. This isn’t typical of most streaming shows and the entire season is released all at once. While this can be good to keep the talk going for a longer time it does have its negatives. The WandaVision finale shows the downside of releasing episodes week to week as it gives fans too much time to build theories in their head that most likely will not come to fruition. Thus, creating a bit of disappointment for the fans when they finally reach the end of their show. This doesn’t happen with the binge format as you can watch an entire show in one sitting if you choose. Even if theories are formed the viewer has less time to become attached to them. This leaves the possibility for a more satisfactory ending or a feeling of not having wasted more time investing in the show if unsatisfactory i.e., the Game of Thrones dilemma.

The show does a great job of keeping the story small and simple while creating major changes for the MCU moving forward. I give a WandaVision Season 1 a Good 4.4/5. It does leave a few too many questions to be resolved in the end to my liking. Such as where did “White Vision” go? How did S.W.O.R.D. get Vision’s body? Who was Agent Woo’s contact in witness protection? How come no other magic users such as Doctor Strange or Karl Mordo noticed the hex? Why did Quicksilver only get super speed? Maybe these questions will be answered in other MCU properties or maybe a Season 2 if we’re lucky.

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