By Lauryn Clarke, Third Year, History
Unlike anything that has come before, Marvel’s first foray into Phase 4 is striking a markedly different tone for the franchise.
WandaVision is the first of Marvel’s new slate of Disney+ shows and the first of the shows that link directly to their upcoming slate of movies (unlike their previous shows e.g. Agents of Shield (2013-2020)). The show takes place after Avengers: Endgame (2019) and follows Wanda Maximoff (aka Scarlet Witch, played by Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) in a series of sitcom-inspired episodes of their new life. However, this is not as it seems because last audiences saw, Vision was dead and nobody around remembers the town they reside in existing.
As a self-confessed comic book nerd, WandaVision is straight up my alley. These characters are getting more screen time than they had in the movies, which allows for more character development, something both Wanda and Vision were lacking somewhat after their initial appearances in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015). Head Writer Jac Schaeffer has peppered in many comic book easter eggs and previous Marvel movie references for the eagle-eyed viewer, so every episode there are moments of ‘Wait, rewind that! Is that what I think it is?’ which gives much for those who are heavily invested to theorise about.
The sense of unease you get with each episode is something you can’t shake: a definite new tone for Marvel’s Phase 4. You can tell something is wrong, that something is off, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. As previously announced by President of Marvel Studios Kevin Feige, parts of Phase 4 – including WandaVision and the upcoming Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness (scheduled for 2021) into which this show ties – are going to take a darker turn, even sinking into horror movie territory. It will be interesting to see how this will be received, given the way the franchise has been marketed so far.
However, the show has come under criticism for the first few episodes as many fans are disliking the sitcom-esque style and the pacing. The show is releasing one 25-30-minute episode a week as if it was on traditional television like the shows from whose style it emulates, rather than the more popular modern format of releasing a whole season at once on a streaming service for people to binge. I believe that the expectations people have developed from this model of media watching is the reason for this criticism – people have become so used to being able to have a show all at once that they have somehow forgotten how television used to be.
The acting in the show is superb. With a well-selected cast, the actors absolutely nail the show and I can’t think of a moment that I felt has been poorly acted. WandaVision is also the first female-led Marvel release since Captain Marvel (2019), due to the delay in the release of the Black Widow solo film. Olsen confidently pulls off leading this show without a hitch.
The writers have also added aside characters from other Marvel projects, including Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) from Ant-Man and the Wasp (2018) and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) from the first two Thor movies – as both of them were used as comic relief in their respective films they work well together on screen, and provide a little breathing room in the tense fourth episode.
Teyonah Parris also deserves an honourable mention as Monica Rambeau, a role she is slated to carry again in the upcoming Captain Marvel 2 (2022), as she performs a heartbreaking scene of what happened directly after the Hulk snapped and brought everyone back in Endgame that brought tears to my eyes.
All around, WandaVision has kept me wanting more and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season will bring.
Featured: Marvel Studios / Disney+
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