The best part about the new Marvel Universe series "WandaVision," is also undoubtedly the source of its biggest frustration.
Don't worry, you won't be alone in asking yourself, "What the heck is going on here?" as that question is the central mystery of the series, at least through its first three episodes (I was given just the first three episodes for review...the series as a whole is nine-episodes long, with the first two episodes coming to Disney+ on January 15th, with new episodes unveiled each week on Fridays through March 5th).
But it's an intriguing, bizarre mystery that will take time to unravel, although the built-in army of young adults that make up the bulk of the Marvel Universe fanbase might have an even tougher time of following - or getting - the innate charm of "WandaVision."
Warning: Spoilers from "The Avengers: Infinity War" and "The Avengers: End Game" to follow in providing backstory for "WandaVision."
When we last saw the android superhero Vision (Paul Bettany) and the love-of-his-artificial-life, Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen), Vision was twice-killed by the evil Thanos during the events of "Avengers: Infinity War" and "Avengers: End Game." Because his death took place before that dreaded "snap" that killed half of all life in the universe, Vision remained deceased even after the downfall of Thanos, and Scarlet Witch was in a state of mourning, even though she played a major part in the ultimate final showdown with Thanos.
"WandaVision" not only picks up Wanda and Vision's story, but it also marks the official start of "Phase Four" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), in which all upcoming Marvel series and movies will fall into. And if you're a fan of the MCU, you should know by now the intricate interconnectivity of all of its characters means that "WandaVision" will surely factor in to whatever major plot developments are tackled on the big-screen.
The strange gimmick of "WandaVision" is that each episode puts Wanda and Vision as the central characters in very familiar TV sitcoms of the past: In the first episode, the couple seem to be living in a black-and-white "I Love Lucy" home, where the second episode more closely parody's "Bewitched." By the third episode, they're in a 70s sitcom. In each case, the entirety of the episode really feels like the original show their going for...from the costumes to the set design, to the dialogue, to the corny jokes and canned laugh-tracks, to even the zany plots (the "I Love Lucy" episode, for example, has them trying to impress Vision's boss (Fred Melamed) with a home-cooked meal so that Vision can score that ever-important work promotion).
But during each episode, something uniquely - strange - occurs. The characters have a moment where they become self-aware - or in one episode Wanda finds a fully-colorized toy helicopter in her bushes - and this is enough to keep the audience's attention and confidence that eventually, all will be explained. As we wait for answers as the series unfolds though, if you yourself aren't aware of the TV era in which they're lampooning, you might find it to be a bit of a tiresome slog.
Through it all, Wanda and Vision are a good team, as are Bettany and Olsen, who both show that they could have easily anchored traditional TV shows of the past. Are they trapped in some sort of sitcom parallel universe? A virtual prison of some kind? And is Vision even really alive? Perhaps the entirety of "WandaVision" is in fact, Wanda's vision, a creation of her own unbridled power and a coping mechanism for her to live without Vision in her life.
As a comic book nerd, I feel obligated to point out that one of the coolest realizations I had about "WandaVision" is the timing of the series. Back when Olsen's Scarlet Witch (and her brother QuickSilver) were introduced in the MCU, they had alternate versions that had already been created in Fox's "X-Men" movie universe. You may remember that the X-Men have yet to be a part of anything MCU-related because their likenesses were tied up in legal hell. But in the years since, Disney has acquired not only the Marvel Universe but the X-Men as well, making Scarlet Witch an ideal character to use to potentially bring the X-Men into the MCU proper. You might be interested in knowing that The Scarlet Witch is indeed a mutant according to her Marvel comics origin story, and her powers have not been fully explained in the MCU, so "WandaVision" may very well be the beginning chapter in the mutant-invasion of the MCU. Or not?
I for one will stick with "WandaVision," partially because the series stands up on its own and partially because I feel a distinct need to consume all-things MCU so that I can remain "in the know" when eventual Marvel movies do hit theaters. For those that remember "I Love Lucy," "Bewitched," "I Dream of Jeannie," "Three's Company" and "The Brady Bunch," or who were avid TV-watchers during the Golden Age of Television, "WandaVision" will be a nostalgic and trippy trip down memory lane...and you'll find yourself content with its deliberate pace. But for those that consider "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." to be classic television, "WandaVision" may be a bit too laborious to latch on to.
"WandaVision" debuts its first two episodes on Disney+ on Friday, January 15th, with new episodes released every Friday thereafter through March 5th.
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