WandaVision | Review
Director: Matt Shakman
Starring: Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Kat Dennings, Evan Peters, Kathryn Hahn, Teyonah Harris, Randall Park
Series Length: 9 Episodes
Marvel Studios' WandaVision combines classic television with the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well as two favourite characters of the fans, Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany). The two super-powered beings have featured in several of the Avengers films over the years, debuting in Age of Ultron. New and older characters are given different roles in the show which sees Wanda and Vision living their dream, with a quiet suburban life, at least until they begin to suspect that everything is not necessarily all that it seems.
“You’re not my neighbor. And you’re definitely not my friend. You are a stranger and an outsider. And right now, you are trespassing here.”
Having waited a whole year for new content, Marvel fans’ expectations were high for the new Disney+ original series’ due for release in 2021. The first series to be released was WandaVision, the first episode of which premiered on January 15th and the last on March 5th. The initially disorienting nature of the plot was both confusing and highly intriguing, the latter also influenced by the anticipation of a new episode and the week dedicated to figuring the plot out. Since January, episodes have aired weekly and have made Friday’s the most popular day of the week for an entirely new reason!
Directed by Matt Shakman, whose previous credits include episodes of hit shows such as Game of Thrones, Fargo and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia to name just a few, the show was in good hands from the start. With Jac Schaeffer as the head writer, WandaVision definitely leaves us excited to see what's been done with the long-awaited Black Widow film due for release later this year. The script kept true to the characters’ values from phase three of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and didn't try to make anyone into anything the audience didn't think they were.
After everything Wanda has suffered in her life, it would have been easy to vilify her while she fought to understand the depth of her power. However, the show was written in a way that allowed its creators to explore the extent of Wanda’s power more without villainising her in any way. Both the script and the performances given by WandaVision’s stars are effective in creating relatable emotions through the characters despite them being incredibly different to the audience both in their situation and level of power which only aids the connections formed between viewers and their favourite characters.
The show stars Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff, and Paul Bettany, the famous voice of JARVIS since the first Iron Man film in 2008 who later personified Vision. Both characters were introduced in Avengers: Age of Ultron and formed a connection over the course of Civil War and their relationship is officially confirmed in Infinity War. After the events of phase three it's good to see Wanda getting the recognition and respect she deserves and as many people’s favourite Avenger, the exploration of her grief and her struggle to overcome it is most welcome!
WandaVision follows a different path to the classic saving the world from catastrophe which is common in the MCU and instead follows Wanda’s attempt to save herself from her own grief. Given the sincere undertones of the storyline, the beginning of the series is remarkably light-hearted. Taking on a new decade each episode, we see Wanda and Vision living in the 50s through to a more modern time at the same time as we’re being reintroduced to some old, recognisable characters.
Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff and Paul Bettany as Vision in Marvel Studios' WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings), previously seen in the Thor franchise and Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris), daughter of Maria Rambeau - Captain Marvel’s flight partner also make appearances in the mini-series and go on to form a likable and effective trio alongside Agent Woo (Randall Park), creating a group to rebel against the military forces we see stationed outside of Westview. The several strands of the plot really get the reader even more hooked on the show, if that’s even possible!
As the series progresses the plot naturally thickens and the show gets naturally more intriguing. The depth of the story leaves subtle hints at many different parts of the MCU, only adding to the frustration at the wait between episodes and the captivation of the audience. WandaVision is a puzzle that gets deceptively easier to solve the more episodes you watch, making you think you’re closer to piecing it together until the ends of each episode throw up a whole load more questions that throw those suspicions off immediately!
(L-R): Paul Bettany as Vision, Kathryn Hahn as Agnes and Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff in Marvel Studios' WANDAVISION, exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2021. All Rights Reserved.
The casting of Kathryn Hahn as new character Agnes was an amazing decision! Throughout each stage of the miniseries, we see the characters in different roles to fit each decade and Hahn fills each role she’s given perfectly. The same can be said of the inclusion of Darcy and Jimmy, both characters have been seen before in different settings but are an important and likeable addition to the show. Teyonah Parris has the same effect on WandaVision’s storyline, keeping us intrigued with hints at future films as well as with subtle links to the past.
However, characters such as Darcy, Monica and Jimmy are introduced but only heavily focussed on for a few episodes. These three are the main subjects of a subplot for long enough that they appear to be becoming a main part of the show. However, towards the end of the series they seem to be almost forgotten amidst the drama surrounding Wanda and Vision even though things happen in these storylines that demand more expansion than they get.
The series ends far too soon, I know I for one could watch at least double the number of episodes in the series. However, the ending is suitably mysterious and leaves many questions in the audience's minds. Marvel Studios have continued Wanda Maximoff’s storyline in an effective way, without overdoing it. She gets the credit she deserves and truly becomes the hero she was destined to be without sacrificing any part of who she was in previous films. Whether you’ve been a Marvel fan since the first Iron Man, or are coming to the MCU new in 2021, WandaVision should definitely be on your watchlist!
"You're supposed to be a myth. A being capable of spontaneous creation...This is chaos magic Wanda and that makes you the Scarlet Witch."
Words by Chloe Pollard.
Trailer from YouTube - Marvel Entertainment.