Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch
Paul Bettany as Vision
Debra Jo Rupp as Sharon Davis
Fred Melamed as Todd Davis
Kathryn Hahn as Agnes
Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau
Randall Park as Jimmy Woo
Kat Dennings as Darcy Lewis
Director: Matt Shakman
Blends the style of classic sitcoms with the MCU, in which Wanda Maximoff (Elizabet Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) – two super-powered beings living their ideal suburban lives – begin to suspect that everything is not as it seems.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has started introducing their own TV shows exclusive to Disney+. However unlike some of their other shows like Agents of Shield and Agent Carter, they’ll be starring characters from the movies, some of them including The Falcon and The Winter Soldier and Loki. The first of these shows to be released was WandaVision, which looked like a sitcom of sorts starring Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch and Paul Bettany as Vision. Admittedly I was doubtful about it, I was unsure about the look from the trailers, but it did at least seem to be trying something different from the past entries. Additionally, I still like the MCU even if I wasn’t as into it as I was pre-Endgame, so I knew either way I was going to watch it. Starting the show it actually turned out to be quite good. By the end, there are definitely some problems with it, but there’s enough good stuff here to make it worth watching.
I’ll do my best to not reveal the plot for people who haven’t seen it. What I can say that the show at first starts off like a sitcom starring Wanda and Vision, like how it was advertised. One of the biggest surprises is that the sitcom stuff is actually good. Even though it does become something else a little later as certain reveals shed light on what is going on, the writing is strong, I could actually watch a full on sitcom with Wanda and Vision. If you watch the very early episodes and aren’t satisfied that you don’t know a semblance of what’s really going on and that’s becoming a problem for you, I recommend getting to episode 4. At that point it starts to really have a large explanation for what’s happening. I guess it was rather inevitable that it would get to that point, though it was starting to move away from what I liked early in the show. Nonetheless, I liked the approach and focus on the characters of Wanda and Vision throughout the whole show (particularly Wanda). The overall conclusion of the show is pretty much a standard MCU climax that you would expect from the movies. It doesn’t particularly do anything terrible but it’s a little disappointing as it finishes a little predictably and typically. I guess it was a fitting enough end to the story, if a bit predictable. None of my issues came because popular fan theories didn’t happen or that there weren’t lots of cameos (that disappointed some). With that said, there is a reveal earlier in the show which builds to literally nothing by the end of the season, and made it feel pointless. If you watch the show you’ll know what I’m talking about, I wasn’t a fan of that. In terms of other faults I have, each episode have credits that are like 7 minutes long, they were like movie credits length And because of the short length of most of the episodes, the end credits can sometimes be like a third of the runtime. Given the lengths of the episodes, the show seemed bingeable but it was released weekly so that was a bit of a problem. So the show cut to end credits popping up with “standing by” on the screen, it always gave a very frustrating feeling, with the length of the episode being even shorter than we thought it would be. Something that was frustrating was the sudden addition of mid/end credits scenes in roughly the last few episodes of the show. To suddenly to start with them in the later episodes is jarring and also annoying given that those scenes are actually important. In fact I try to imagine someone watching the show without watching the those credits scenes, and I’d imagine that I’d be out of the loop. I know that MCU is known for credits scenes but they could’ve handled it better in the show. I actually had to go back to the finale episode because it turns out that there wasn’t just a mid credits sequence (which I saw), but there was an end credits scene which I completely missed. These two annoyances aren’t show-breaking but they were some frustrations that stood out for me.
Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany are the leads and they are great in their parts. Wanda and Vision are characters that could’ve been handled better and better utilised in the movies, and WandaVision gives them the chance to really meet their fullest potentials, diving into their characters, and giving them strong moments. From comedy to drama, the two of them pull it off really well. The early episodes of the show are particularly the most fun I’ve seen Paul Bettany having in a movie. However this is definitely Elizabeth Olsen’s show, she really gets to shine here. With this and her soon to be appearance to Doctor Strange sequel, it shows that Wanda is going to have a more present role in the MCU. There is also a solid supporting cast as well. It includes Teyonah Parris as Monica Rambeau (playing the grown up daughter of Maria Rambeau from Captain Marvel), Randall Park returning as Jimmy Woo from Ant Man and the Wasp, as well as Kat Dennings returning as Darcy from the Thor movies, the three of them were good in their parts. There’s also a standout performance from Kathryn Hahn as a nosy neighbour to Wanda and Vision, who also steals pretty much every scene she’s in.
All episodes of this show are directed by Matt Shakman, and he’s done a good job with it. I particularly liked the sitcom stuff and how it mimics some of the major sitcoms from each decade it explores, starting with the 50s and gradually making its way to the 2010s. This includes the use of black and white, aspect ratio changes, music and laugh tracks. Even the effects to show the powers of the leads are handled well in those older sitcom sequences. I also liked the more odd moments where you can tell that something is off, and cracks start appearing in the world that Wanda and Vision are currently in. It effectively gives an unnerving feeling, that’s unfortunately only in like the first half of the season. The visual effects are pretty good and are mostly on the level of the MCU movies. With that said, some of the visual effects in the last episode with the climax don’t look that great. However MCU movies effects are generally pretty decent, so as it’s a tv show it’s a little worse.
WandaVision is a pretty good mini series, adding some unique aspects not really seen in the franchise beforehand, and I liked the performances of Olsen and Bettany and the handling of their characters. If you’re a fan of the MCU and haven’t watched it yet I do recommend it, the short length of the episodes makes it easy to speed through now. Even if it does fall back on familiar MCU territory as it goes on, it’s good to see it at least attempt different things. I am curious to see where the MCU goes next.