“WandaVision”: A Blast From The Past

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Ilana Rockwell, Entertainment Editor

“WandaVision,” a recent Disney+ original and the first installment in a new era of Marvel content, has become an instant sensation. Out of the expected nine episodes in the mini-series, only seven have been released to date. The first two episodes premiered on Jan. 15, and they will release every Friday until March 6. 

“WandaVision” is the first show to be released from the highly anticipated Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which largely involves a wave of original series that share continuity with the rest of the films in the franchise. Many of these are meant to expand on many characters that were not given much screen time within the Avengers movies, such as “Loki,” “Hawkeye” and “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” while others attempt to introduce beloved comic-book heroes for the first time within the MCU, such as “She-Hulk,” “Ms. Marvel,” and “Moon Knight.”

The show centers around Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), also known as her superhero title Scarlet Witch, and Vision (Paul Bettany), who live a classic suburban life in a small town called Westview. Each episode takes on a different decade, and with it, adapts the appropriate old sitcom television tropes. The series begins in the 1950s, with an entirely black and white episode and several outdated cliches. It is largely reminiscent of shows such as “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” whose titular star actually collaborated with the creators of the show. As the episodes progress with equally fascinating and extravagant costumes, sets and plots to match the designated time period, there are also hints of danger and uncertainty. Olsen and Bettany’s acting is superb, as they successfully showcase new depths and eerie feelings among their perfect cookie-cutter streets. However, their easy charm and likeability make the sitcom moments equally enjoyable.

Although the unique and surprising writing choices are executed well, they often give the impression of waiting for something to happen and lead to slight disappointment. Audiences will feel a build-up throughout the episode, with sudden bursts of sinister music and close-up shots of the two stars, yet there is never a climax. This makes the story feel incredibly slow-paced, which is particularly shocking for a series with only nine episodes. However, the show’s fourth episode, released on Jan. 29, was the first to be set in modern times in the world outside of Westview. This  served as a kickoff to the beginning of a more holistic storyline. The writers featured many attempts from the outside world to contact the citizens of Westview within this episode, and showed that these were cleverly intertwined within the unexplainable moments of the previous three episodes. This set high expectations that the rest of the series would continue with an intelligent plot and give a fighting chance to the two fan-favorite Avengers, and the successive episodes did not disappoint. 

The show feels very unlike anything Marvel has ever done before, with even their iconic and colorful title screen feeling out of place amongst the quintessential era-specific theme songs (which change every episode) and old-style laugh tracks. Even the traditional CGI effects that the franchise is so popular for had to be modified to more practical stunts, as portions of the show were actually filmed in front of a live studio audience. It certainly sets a tone for their new phase and does so with a quiet grace. The show appears to have a lot of potential, and viewers can’t wait to see what happens next.