What is grief, if not love persevering?Vision
When WandaVision was first announced I was at the height of my “Done with Marvel” phase. Year after year the studio would release multiple entries in their interconnected universe and after a certain point it became more of a television show rather than a film franchise. No longer was I focusing on what they gave us but rather looking beyond; desperate for more cameos and reveals instead of the meat and bones of the product at hand.
Enter WandaVision, the first Marvel Studios release since the worldwide pandemic.
Right away we are transported into a fictional, sit-com version of Wanda and Visions life in this small town of Westview. During the first three episodes of the series our view is strictly locked in to what Wanda wants us to see. Within the episodes are fragments of glitches and unexplained occurances that Wanda just *poofs* out of existence. It creates a mysterious atmosphere that engages the view to look further, to begin questioning what it is that we are seeing and to really dig down in hopes of understanding what is truly going on in this ever changing town.
Over the three episodes we are introduced to the townsfolks that live in Westview and unfortunately that’s about it. Besides the central characters in and outside of Wanda’s Hex, the rest are merely cardboard cutouts designed to be red herrings, references, and comedic relief.
Well, all except for Agnes… but we’ll get to that later.
The real center of the series is Wanda’s grief. After the loss of Vision, her brother, and a few key members of the Avengers; Wanda is left utterly alone. In her grief she creates, unknowingly, a protective Hex over the small town of Westview and in doing so builds a fake reality that she is capable of altering in a moments notice.
Within her bubble, Wanda brings to life her lover Vision using the piece of the Mind Stone that lives inside her. Using her memories, pain, and love she is able to live out the life she dreamt of. Even going as far as having her twins, Billy and Tommy.
Fans of the comic already know that Billy and Tommy become massive players in the Marvel Universe and their reasoning for existence is rather dark. However, for now the ingredients used to make them have been kept under wraps and I assume in further media it will be explored.
Starting with Episode 4, WandaVision takes a drastic shift in presentation. No longer is the show strictly a homage (although elements of this are still present further down the line), but rather a science fiction tragedy. We are introduced to Monica Rambeau, the little girl featured in 2019’s Captain Marvel, and the agency of S.W.O.R.D.
In their section of the show, Monica is called to Westview to help F.B.I. Agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park, who returns from Ant-Man and the Wasp) understand the mystery surrounding the town.
From here, the show splits between Wanda’s reality and that of the real world. Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings, who returns from her role in the first two Thors) joins the duo as they seek to uncover the circumstances that brought the Hex and the reasoning for Wanda’s creation of it, while at the same time, working together to prevent acting S.W.O.R.D. director Tyler Hayward (portrayed by Josh Stamberg) from obtaining Vision’s “body”.
In my opinion this is where both the shoes greatest strengths and weaknesses are shown. While the core of the story is Wanda’s grief, a large chunk of it is spent on uncovering the Hex and getting inside of it. And while that stuff is entertaining, it detracts from the overall theme of grief that is even shown through Monica. We aren’t truly given the time to become familiar with Monica as a character and her pain she feels from the loss of her mother isn’t felt in full effect. The idea that both leads in both stories share a main theme is impactful to the over arching narrative of the show but too often is the Monica’s pain used as a plot device rather than a character arc.
Acting Director Tyler Hayward is probably one of my least favorite Marvel villians. Too often is he portrayed as a mustache twirling charataure instead of a complex villian I know he is capable of. In his introduction he exudes a naive understanding of his actions and shows potential of a character who uses the wrong means to get the right. But, as the story progresses he discards all that to become the charataure I described above and in the finale he is defeated as a “oh no we still have this villian here, let’s just get rid of him” rather than a central antagonist of the show.
Speaking of central antagonist, it is revealed at the end of Episode 7 that Agnes is indeed Agatha Harkness. GASP, who didn’t see that coming. Interestingly enough, I felt that the reveal was handled rather well and Kathryn Hahn delivers an engrossingly evil performance that marks her as one of the better villians of the MCU.
But before we get into some final thoughts I must talk about Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany who reprise their roles of Wanda Maximoff and Vision, respectively. Throughout the MCU I found both of them the least interesting of the entire franchise. Well, that is no longer the case. Olsen and Bettany give career best performances that cement their characters as complex individuals who have intricate and true human wants and desires.
Wrapping up I’ll just mention a few other things I really enjoyed in the show.
1. Evan Peter’s as Ralph portraying Pietro. He added a fun red herring who I for one wasn’t disappointed by his reveal.
2. Monica is a badass and I cannot wait to see more of her and her abilities that I failed to touch on in the review.
3. Darcy and Jimmy make a fantastic duo and I truly hope they return in some capacity later on down the line.
4. The entirety of the production, ranging from the costumes to the lighting, was all superb and by far the best of the MCU in a long time.
5. All the acting was just fantastic, everyone deserves Emmys.
6. The structure of the show was great, really giving you time to indulge in the information provided in each episode while becoming excited for the next.
7. And finally the homages and commercials throughout the series were a ton of fun and makes me wanna go rewatch Malcolm in the Middle.
My one other complaint with the series is that it could have used another episode or two. The finale felt rushed and could have used a little longer to flesh out more of the emotional beats.
And yes, there is a TON of things I didn’t mention and this was intentional. Not every reveal has to be spoiled in order for me to touch base with my thoughts on the show. I encourage everyone to view the show and enjoy the wild ride it gives. I, for one, cannot wait to see where the MCU goes from here.