Ever since the blockbuster finale “Avengers: Endgame” came out in 2019, Marvel fans have been waiting for new content and finally, something refreshing has arrived. “WandaVision” marks the first-ever television show within the interconnected storylines of the Marvel Cinematic Universe on the streaming service Disney+. “WandaVision” focuses on Wanda Maximoff, also known as the Scarlet Witch, and Vision, who in previous movies were romantically involved, finding themselves in classic sitcom-style settings. As the show goes on though, not everything is as it seems and things begin to unravel.
Marvel Studios, which usually makes light comedy and action-oriented films, had their first foray into television with “WandaVision,” which released episodes weekly on Disney+ from Jan. 15 until March 5. The show commits to replicating different sitcom styles, such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show” and “Malcolm in the Middle,” for the majority of its season. The creative risks taken definitely pay off, for the most part. To elaborate, the first couple of episodes commit so much to a “sitcom” style that while it is commendable, the show begins on a very slow start.
What really works for this show is the themes of grief and loss that permeate throughout the season. Wanda, who usually plays a supporting character in Marvel movies, has the lead role here. Elizabeth Olsen does an amazing job portraying a woman grappling with what has happened in her life and the anguish it has caused. Olsen’s ability to encapsulate different types of sitcom characters in each episode is very impressive, as Marvel doesn’t waste her talents on just supporting roles. Paul Bettany as Vision also portrays sitcom tropes and character types with great skill. A new character named Monica Rambeau — who also deals with grief — is introduced in the series, played by Teyonah Parris. Other supporting characters like Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park, and Darcy Lewis, played by Kat Dennings, add fun pieces to the story. Kathryn Hahn is an amazing actress and shows off her chops here as well as the nosy neighbor Agnes.
However, the show has issues, mainly with its structure and some characters. The very slow build-up to revealing the secrets of this sitcom mystery may not lead to best rewatch experience. The show became a hit when fans speculated and theorized about every little thing week after week when new episodes came out, but when the whole show is available to binge, will some of the magic be lost? Time will definitely tell on that. The episodes never exceed a 50-minute runtime, but some episodes definitely need more time — in the latter half of the season, some plot elements and character arcs feel rushed. For example, the character of Tyler Hayward, played by Josh Stamberg, is extremely predictable and laughably cartoonish. His motivations for what he does are hinted at but never fully fleshed out, which is a disappointment. The CGI and fight scenes also leave something to be desired. Marvel promised high budgets for its Disney+ shows, but it does not show here. The fighting is not particularly crazy either, but it isn’t trying to be another “Avengers” movie after all.
Some fans may be disappointed by a certain bait-and-switch Marvel pulls in the finale, but it fit the expectations of what the show is supposed to be: a story about coping with grief. The show’s best moments showcase this theme in nuanced and beautiful ways. Some scenes still stick and may leave you teary-eyed, reaching for the tissues, while others will amaze you that Marvel took a bold new step in its first show. It is important to remember this is the first attempt, but a very solid one at that.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5 stars