Well, my grand experiment to take a break from Disney+ and try out other streaming services lasted all of two months. Eventually, I couldn’t stand the suspense anymore, and I just had to find out what was going on with the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new Disney+ show WandaVision. I now have just one episode left to watch so I can be ready for the finale this coming Friday.
Originally I wasn’t super hyped about WandaVision, which is why I thought I’d be okay taking a break from Disney+ and just catching up on the show later. I like the role Scarlet Witch and Vision play in the overall MCU, but they’re not my most favorite characters, and I was initially more excited for the upcoming Falcon and Winter Soldier show.
However, I kept hearing all this great buzz about WandaVision, and I just couldn’t stay away. Despite the fact I don’t typically like to binge-watch shows, I watched seven episodes in the past two days, because I couldn’t wait to see what happened next.
WandaVision is good — really good. It’s the same level of quality as The Mandalorian, and it expands the MCU universe in a way that is genuinely thrilling and mind-bending. As geeks, we’ve all seen many, many superhero movies by this point, and even if you’re feeling a little burned out, WandaVision truly does bring a fresh perspective to the genre.
WandaVision starts off a little slowly, but I actually didn’t mind that. As a kid, I loved watching classic black and white sitcoms like I Love Lucy and The Andy Griffith Show, and the first couple episodes of WandaVision charmingly capture that same sort of vibe.
Overall this show feels like a fascinating cross between classic American sitcoms, The Twilight Zone, and Stranger Things, and honestly, I hope the MCU continues to delve into this weird and trippy sort of territory. Even from the first episode, you can sense that something is not right in the seemingly idyllic town of Westview.
We later learn that Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) has created her own alternate reality as a way to cope with the devastating trauma she has experienced during her time as an Avenger. She lost her brother Pietro in Age of Ultron and then lost the love of her life Vision (Paul Bettany) during Infinity War.
It’s natural to grieve the loss of a loved one, but Wanda is using her powers in an unhealthy way. She’s mind-controlling the townspeople of Westview and forcing them to participate in her alternate reality, and she’s keeping the truth of what she’s doing from Vision. Although Vision has suffered a memory wipe, he begins to sense that something is wrong, and he’s concerned about what Wanda is doing to others and herself.
I’m always a little nervous when a big-budget franchise dives into heavy topics like grief and depression. I totally believe that fiction should explore these topics, but it’s not always done in the sensitive, nuanced manner that it should be.
So far, WandaVision has handled these issues very well, thanks to Elizabeth Olsen’s thoughtful performance. We can see right away that she’s trying too hard to pretend that “everything’s fine,” and the longer she refuses to process her grief, the more she spirals. She’s having an increasingly difficult time keeping her manufactured sitcom reality together.
Grief that is buried or denied will continue to fester, tearing us apart on the inside. That’s exactly what is happening to Wanda in this series. Will she be able to find true peace and healing, or will her suppressed emotions drive her to use her powers in catastrophic ways? We’ll have to wait for the finale to find out, but I’m hopeful the show will continue to inspire deeper connections.
Welcome to the multiverse
After the MCU tackled the always-tricky plot device of time travel in Endgame, WandaVision doesn’t hold back when it comes to messing with reality.
One of the most surprising reveals is an appearance by Wanda’s brother Pietro Maximoff — played not by the MCU’s version of Quicksilver, but by Evan Peters, who played the character in the X-Men films.
Now, this could simply be because Aaron Taylor-Johnson (the MCU Quicksilver) didn’t want to return to the role, but I really like the way this plot twist plays into the whole alternate reality premise of the show. Does this mean we could see other X-Men actors show up in the MCU? I hope so!
Another twist in this series is the revelation that sitcom character Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) is actually the witch Agatha Harkness, who appears in the original comics. I don’t know anything about this character, but I love the idea of introducing new characters and new powers in the MCU, so I’m excited to learn more about her in episodes 8 and 9.
I feel like I missed out on a lot of great discussions surrounding WandaVision because I waited until the end to watch it, but I’m eager to see how this TV show will impact the MCU as a whole going forward. In the beginning I was worried that the Star Wars and MCU Disney+ shows would feel like a step down from the movies, but so far that hasn’t been the case.
These Disney+ series give Star Wars and Marvel the chance to tell smaller-scale, longer-length stories. While the budget may be more limited than, say, The Rise of Skywalker or Avengers: Endgame, sometimes it’s nice to strip away some of those special effects and tell a more intimate, character-focused story. That’s exactly what makes WandaVision so great.