After a substantially extended break, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has returned to our screens in the form of Disney+’s WandaVision. Understandably excited for its long-awaited return, my flat huddled around our projector to see what was in store now that Wanda and the supposedly deceased Vision had been given the limelight. Despite our uncertainty of what to expect, I must admit that the prevailing emotion among us was utter bemusement by the time the credits rolled. Compared to Disney’s other entries into the mega franchise, WandaVision stands out as completely bizarre, and yet surprisingly refreshing.
The formulaic nature of the MCU has always been a large factor in its success. It means fans know what to expect when they rock up to the cinema, and heavily contributes to the cohesion that binds the shared universe together. In 2019 however, the overarching plot of the MCU reached its dramatic conclusion in the groundbreaking Avengers: Endgame. Following the culmination of the Infinity Saga, WandaVision might just be the exact upheaval the franchise needs if it wants to keep its audience fully invested in this new era.
Compared to Disney’s other entries into the mega franchise, WandaVision stands out as completely bizarre, and yet surprisingly refreshing
Unexpectedly, this experimental storytelling comes in the guise of the familiar sitcom. Beginning in the 50s, each of the first few episodes takes place in a subsequent decade with the visuals, setting and opening titles adjusting to fit. Both Wanda and Vision appear to acknowledge this less-than-linear flow of time and yet don’t quite manage to question the nature of their reality. In fact, Wanda seems determined not to accept any part of it, reversing or removing any event that would appear out of place in the picturesque, sitcom world of Westview. We last saw her grieving the loss of Vision in Avengers: Endgame and so it would follow that she’s created their perfect happily-ever-after in an attempt to escape her own sorrow. After all, denial is the first stage of grief. Given anger’s place as the second, the show could be leading to Wanda finally gaining the chilling moniker of Scarlet Witch when she’s inevitably ripped from her perfect world and unleashes her growing power.
Both Wanda and Vision appear to acknowledge this less-than-linear flow of time and yet don’t quite manage to question the nature of their reality
Talking of Wanda, Elizabeth Olsen’s acting has been nothing short of superb; from her perfect delivery of classic sitcom lines, to the unease and sadness simmering just below her bubbly exterior. This decision to explore themes of grief and denial through the aged comedy of the mid-20th century creates a sinister juxtaposition that gives the series a more intellectual feel than any MCU project before it. To see Wanda finally at the focus of a story like this is long overdue, and I can’t help but be excited for Olsen’s performance as Wanda realizes the truth of her reality.
It wouldn’t be the MCU without each of its components playing into a larger game plan. With the Infinity Saga neatly wrapped up, it’s anyone’s guess how WandaVision fits into the bigger picture. However, with Olsen set to appear in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, we could see WandaVision start to lay the groundwork to turn Marvel’s cinematic universe into a cinematic multiverse. There’s also the question of how Wanda’s newborn twins, Billy and Tommy, fit into the franchise’s future as well as whether we’ll see Vision fully return to life by the show’s end. Given WandaVision’s tendency to breed more questions than answers, we may not get closure on some of these mysteries for quite some time.
With the Infinity Saga neatly wrapped up, it’s anyone’s guess how WandaVision fits into the bigger picture
Despite WandaVision’s desire to appear as a sitcom, it still firmly sits in the superhero genre. It’s therefore a pretty safe bet that we can expect a battle with the forces of evil at the end of its nine-episode run. The identity of this darkness and its connection to Westview’s residents are just a few more of the pieces in WandaVision’s growing puzzle. These many mysteries lie at the heart of the show and I’m hopeful that they’re building towards a momentous event that will set the MCU on an exciting and untrodden path.