TV Review: WandaVision

I was extremely excited for WandaVision because of its unique, inspired premise, as the miniseries blends the superhero fare we know and love the Marvel Cinematic Universe for with TV sitcoms from multiple different eras, and because it was set to highlight two Avengers that weren’t quite as fleshed out as most of their teammates. WandaVision mostly succeeds in mixing those different styles into one cohesive, entertaining story, but it feels more than a little uneven thanks to a particularly unnecessary episode, and a finale that just kind of fizzles out. The end result is a solid showing for its titular characters, yet also one that never realizes its full potential.

WandaVision opens as if it were a classic 1950’s sitcom and follows two of the MCU’s strongest Avengers, Wanda Maximoff and The Vision, as they start their new, married life together in the apparently idyllic town of Westview. Now, that’s quite an odd premise because it contradicts the MCU in more than a few ways, the biggest of which are A) Wanda and Vision are alive in the 1950’s, and B) – spoilers for Avengers: Infinity War – Vision is alive period, as he was last seen getting killed two times in a row. MCU fans will immediately know that something is amiss in WandaVision, and newcomers will probably pick up on it fairly quickly too, but this is as far as I will go into WandaVision’s plot, as the best part of the show is how it reveals what’s truly going on in Westview.

As they did in Infinity War and Captain America: Civil War, Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany portray Wanda and Vision brilliantly, and their relationship serves as one of Wandavision’s biggest strengths. No matter what comes between the pair, or what doubts the audience has at the time, the love that Wanda and Vision have for each other is never in question. Kathryn Hahn is great too, as the heroic duo’s new neighbor, Agnes, who Wanda warms up to quite quickly and is able to share her sitcom-level problems with. Another new acquaintance of Wanda’s, Geraldine (Teyonah Parris) is quite a lot of fun as well, and her arc is another bright spot in the miniseries. There are a few other, arguably even better supporting characters, but I think it’s best I leave them without an introduction for now…

Yet another win for WandaVision are its visual effects and set design. When objects are floating, characters are flying, colors are changing, or energy blasts are being shot, it all looks spectacular for a small screen production. Just like they have with the first two seasons of The Mandalorian, it seems that Disney plans to spend enough money to make sure their MCU shows have a visual flair that’s in the ballpark of their big budget blockbuster counterparts. The finale’s effects noticably lacked a bit of polish, but that was supposedly due to the pandemic so I’m not gonna hold that against it.

As you can see, there’s a lot that WandaVision deserves praise for, but with all these great qualities the weaker story elements and pacing in the show’s back half only felt even more out of place. The first five episodes do a great job with gradually unveiling the secrets behind Wanda and Vision’s new life and kept me thinking/excited about what was going to happen next week, and while the following two were far from terrible, they weren’t as enticing or memorable due to the mystery being mostly solved. Then came episode eight, which was one of WandaVision’s longest showings, and had maybe three scenes that were actually worthwhile or helped to drive the story forward. Lastly, the finale felt rushed, and while it does work as a passable ending for the show, It didn’t seem to be thought through as much as it should have been. The most frustrating example is how one of the miniseries’ most important characters basically just leaves without any explanation after having a huge moment, and is never heard from again.

With all said and done though, WandaVision was fairly decent. If a big part of the MCU’s future is on the small screen (which it most definitely is) I hope it continues to embrace interesting ideas to shake up the modern superhero template, but regains the strong storytelling that has made the film franchise one of my all-time favorites.

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