Review: WandaVision (2021)

WandaVision (2021) WandaVision (2021)

The show’s true meta is its eerie, impossible, prescience.

For much of their first ten years, the Marvel movies offered many of us the sort of familiar, serialised escapism that sitcoms and TV series did in decades gone by. How oddly and unintentionally prescient that, a year before the pandemic forced us all into our homes and shut down much of the world, including the cinemas the MCU films dominated for so long, their finale, Avengers: Endgame (2019), spent its first third pondering a traumatised world brought to a standstill by a catastrophic event, before its already-planned move to the small screen launched with WandaVision, a TV show all about the TV shows of decades gone by, in which its protagonist desperate seeks comfort in serialised escapism as a means of dealing with trauma.

The strange comfort, at least for this viewer, comes in knowing certain things: that this is TV made with a film budget; that this comes from a studio that has already produced a successful decade-long series, and with a satisfying finale no less; that this is a limited series, so its ending is part of its conception (and therefore presumably unlikely to fall prey to things like changing writers, network cancellations, or other pressures which often derail and disappoint with longer-running shows); that, on a purely technical level, each episode is an illuminating study in the tropes, antiquated attitudes, and production aesthetics of the sitcoms it references; that the yet-to-be-explained darkness that propels its mystery feels more Twilight Zone than Lost; that the wonderful performers include Elizabeth Olsen (and that face!), Paul Bettany, and the treasure that is Kathryn Hahn, all being goofy and weird; and that, wherever this is going, it is interesting enough in its delivery along the way.

Updates as episodes air.

Further Viewing

There is an ocean of speculation content about this series, and I usually find that sort of thing pretty tiresome and ultimately futile, so I won’t recommend any of that here. However, I will note that with WandaVision, the online audience conversation offers a reminder of how for over a decade the MCU has largely managed to both appease and surprise fans who know way more about the source material, and more often than not to delight even casual viewers.

While not technically spoiler territory, Elizabeth Olsen’s promo for Captain America: Civil War (2016) recaps key comic book storylines for her character Scarlett Witch – storylines upon which WandaVision may presumably be based – which, while helpful, may inadvertently uncover more than first-time viewers might want to know (via Allure):