Marvel Studios has churned out hit after hit at the global box office for over a decade, beginning with 2008’s “Iron Man.” Since then, superhero films have grown in popularity from countless studios, but few have lived up to the level of consistency Marvel has established.
Even following “Avengers: Endgame” — the massive culmination of every Marvel film to date — Marvel showed no signs of slowing down, releasing “Spiderman: Far From Home” in association with Sony at the end of 2019.
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But, COVID-19 forced Marvel to delay the release of several films and their new direct-to-Disney+ television series. After a full year without the release of a Marvel property, Marvel returned to our screens for the debut of “WandaVision” — the first of many upcoming Disney+ series set to premiere in 2021.
“WandaVision” is far from the realm of familiarity compared to what we have come to expect from Marvel. While many love the consistency from Marvel in terms of quality, some argue their films are very formulaic. More and more of those voices have been silenced after each episode of “WandaVision.”
Presented in a classic sitcom-style, “WandaVision” follows Wanda — The Scarlet Witch — and Vision, the synthezoid created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner in 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” But everything is not as it seems, as Wanda and Vision experience life through different time periods of American television history.
Spoilers ahead for Episodes 1-4 of WandaVision
Beginning with the 1950s, the pilot follows the couple as they acclimate to a new neighborhood and lifestyle. But neither Wanda nor Vision can remember anything about their pasts. All details about their relationship and arrival in this new town are a mystery.
A level of unease is added toward the end of the pilot episode when Mrs. Hart — played by Debra Jo Rupp — continually says, “Stop it” in a joking manner as her husband chokes on his dinner. Her light tone begins to fade as she turns her attention to Wanda, continuing to plead for her to “stop it.”
Many were concerned with whether or not they would be able to engage with this show in the same way audiences have with previous Marvel properties. An entire 180-degree turn, WandaVision lacks the typical level of action and spectacle we have come to expect from Marvel. The lighthearted, seemingly stakeless nature of sitcoms does not track as well with some as it did in the past.
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But the showrunner for the series Jac Schaeffer maintains an underlying current of unease and discomfort. Even in the earlier, lighter episodes, there are still moments that do not sit well with the audience. This pulls the audience in enough to make them want to watch the next episode.
In the ‘70s themed third episode, Wanda gives birth to twins with the help of the mysterious new neighbor Geraldine. As the two look down upon the bassinet, Wanda mentions she had a brother named Pietro. We last saw Pietro in his debut film Avengers: Age of Ultron. The character had not even been mentioned since.
This episode leaves the viewer craving more. While starting in a similar, fun style as the first two episodes, it ramps up the level of mystery and anxiety. We see Wanda’s entire disposition flip as she feels threatened. Elizabeth Olsen — though not typically associated with sitcom-acting — does such a fantastic job in the first three episodes that when she turns it off to confront Geraldine, the audience is genuinely startled and even afraid of her.
Episode four opens as Monica Rambeau, the daughter of Maria Rambeau from 2018’s Captain Marvel, reforms following “the Blip”. Monica is a high-ranking agent of S.W.O.R.D., an agency studying “sentient weapons” and was founded by Monica’s mother Maria.
Monica is sent on a mission to escort a drone to an FBI agent investigating a missing person in Westview, New Jersey. It is there where she meets Jimmy Woo, the FBI agent in charge of Scott Lang in 2018’s Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Agent Woo informs Monica no one has heard from anyone inside Westview and the locals have no memory of Westview even existing.
Monica approaches the town and as she inspects the static barrier in front of her, she is pulled through. The remainder of the episode follows multiple agencies and scientists, including Darcy Lewis from the first and second Thor films, as they try to discover what is really going on inside the town of Westview.
Whether or not this entire scenario has been created or manipulated by Wanda and her reality-bending powers has yet to be confirmed. What we do know is this series is flooded with questions and at this point in time, we have had little more than a few drops of answers.
In a recent interview, Elizabeth Olsen — the Scarlet Witch herself — confirmed a cameo appearance at the level of Luke Skywalker’s return in The Mandalorian is on its way in the coming episodes.
Doctor Strange returning to help S.W.O.R.D. pull her out of this fantasy is a possibility, but many are hoping Wanda’s manipulation of space and time will allow us to see the X-Men enter the Marvel Cinematic Universe in spectacular fashion.
While dramatically different than the typical Marvel film, WandaVision has delighted fans by offering something new and exciting. Being able to see Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany stretch their legs with these characters has been fun, and this series allows us to learn more about these characters whom were so often overshadowed by the leading stars of the MCU.
Hopefully, more answers will come in the next few episodes, but until then we can do nothing more than theorize as to what will happen in this unorthodox and exciting Marvel project.
New episodes of WandaVision premiere every Friday, exclusively on Disney+.