WandaVision is the Marvel Cinematic Universe sitcom we need right now but the series is a true love letter to television history in general.
It’s been a while since Marvel released anything new for audiences to consume. Because of the pandemic, Black Widow is delayed until May at the earliest. My money is on another delay with how slow the vaccines are in getting rolled out. But hey, I’ll take any new product from Marvel Studios right now–film or television!
Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) are a newly married couple moving into their Westview neighborhood. They are careful in not revealing their powers. Anything can happen in a small town. Of course, this is the beauty of riffing on classic sitcoms. The annoying neighbor comes in the form of Agnes (Kathryn Hahn). Before too long, they realize something isn’t right. Disney only sent the first three episodes for press to screen. This is with good reason because spoilers would be all across the internet otherwise. I like how the first three episodes are able to set things up. In doing so, we have our enjoyment while asking questions. I’ll be curious to see just how this will pay off in the end.
While the MCU films have their moments of light humor, WandaVision is entirely dependent on humor for the sitcom to work. I love how they spoof the 1950s and 1960s in the first three episodes. Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez’s catchy theme songs feel authentic to the period. If you don’t have any experience in watching the classics, you are certainly in for a treat! There are moments, here and there, that remind us that nothing is as it seems. I will not get into the details. I also love how each episode features a commercial. Pay close attention to the easter eggs when this happens.
WandaVision may be the first MCU series but it will not be the last. The series does not necessarily need to be the next coming of The Mandalorian for the show to be a success. Making people laugh should be enough. And again, I’ll be curious to see what happens next. I certainly have a few questions. The TV concept does help us get to know these characters in ways that film just doesn’t make possible. Another thing to take into account is the budget. A television series budget is much lower than a feature film. Maybe it’s the black and white of the first two episodes but I think they pull it off.
Behind the camera, Matt Shakman directs all nine episodes while Jac Schaeffer serves as head writer. They’ve got two things going for them: launching the first MCU series while making a love letter to television history. The early episodes remind me of I Love Lucy, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Brady Bunch, and Bewitched to name a few. Suffice it to say, they really do their homework here and it truly pays off. I would not expect anything different.
I would be remiss if I did not properly give shout-outs to costume designer Mayes C. Rubeo and production designer Mark Worthington. Working with cinematographer Jess Hall, they are able to successfully transition from black and white to living color. Start their award campaigns now because they really do their homework in giving the series a period vibe. Even if we do not know what happens beyond the third episode, the sitcom set-up pays homage to what came before.
After Avengers: Endgame, Kevin Feige and company started turning their focus to launching new Marvel series for Disney+. Did they know something that we didn’t? It really doesn’t matter because Marvel or Star Wars will almost certainly be the talk of the internet.
WandaVision is the first Marvel series to launch on Disney+ and the throwback sitcom is exactly what we need right now.
DIRECTOR: Matt Shakman
HEAD WRITER/CREATOR: Jac Schaeffer
EXECUTIVE PRODUCERS: Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Matt Shakman, and Jac Schaeffer
CAST: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Teyonah Parris, Kat Dennings, Randall Park, and Kathryn Hahn