The much anticipated MCU show focusing on the bizarre sitcom antics of Wanda and Vision finally aired over the last two months, and it didn’t disappoint. While slow to start the mystery of just what the hell was going on built up perfectly, whipping myself and many others into a frenzy of online discussion and theories in the days after each episode aired. Did the series stick the landing? Let’s find out!
Several weeks after the end of the battle with Thanos, Wanda Maximoff and Vision are living an idyllic suburban life in the town of Westview, New Jersey, trying to conceal their true natures from their neighbours. As they begin to enter new decades and encounter television tropes, Vision suspects that things are not as they seem…
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
It may have been the dullest part of the show for me, but I can’t deny they nailed the era’s feel perfectly.
As mentioned in the opening paragraph WandaVision’s greatest aspect is how it created a genuine mystery and very slowly pulled back the curtain, with Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) spending the first two or three episodes purely in old fashioned US sitcoms, but a few little things start to trickle in, and we see that Wanda is at least aware of them, until eventually she kicks out her “friend” Monica (Teyonah Parris), who lands in the real world and shows us that the sitcom reality exists inside its own bubble later dubbed “The Hex”. Monica is actually Monica Rambeau, daughter of Maria from the Captain Marvel film and she works for SWORD, which is similar to SHIELD accept… well, I was going to say less corrupt, but… I don’t know… Anyway, we soon see her story, including the fact she was part of the half of humanity that got snapped out existence before being snapped back to life five years later, which was really interesting see just how much chaos was caused when that happened. Monica “woke up” next to an empty bed that had her mother in it wondering where she went, only to find out she’d died three years ago, two years after she vanished. Now there’s a mind F- erm, a mind … mixer!
She joins up with FBI agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park) from Ant-man and Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings) from the first two Thor films, who is now an astrophysicist employed by SWORD. It was like a small scale team up of minor characters really getting a chance to shine, Woo and Darcy especially. As more and more layers begin to be pulled back, more and more questions begin to get asked: Wanda becomes pregnant and then gives birth to twins within a day, then the twins themselves begin aging themselves up to Wanda and Vision’s surprise; Wanda’s dead brother Pietro returns, but is actually Evan Peters’ Quicksilver from the recent X-Men movies rather than the MCU one, and eventually friendly neighbour Agnes (Kathryn Hahn) turns out to be a several hundred year old witch named Agatha Harkness and, as her own theme music will tell you, was behind it all along… well, a lot of it. As a comics fan I did enjoy several nods, not just Wanda’s twins Billy and Tommy (Julian Hilliard and Jett Klyne) and Agatha, all of whom come from the pages of Marvel, but little nods like a Halloween episode where everyone ended up dressing like their comic counterparts.
I’d make a joke about being glad the children are being stopped from talking, but actually they were that rare entity known as “good child actors”, so I won’t!
Episode 7 takes us through the life of Wanda and we find out that while Agatha had been stirring up events, it wasn’t her who created them. We see Wanda growing up watching old US sitcoms in Sakovia, the fact that the Mind Stone didn’t give her the powers she has, rather just magnified them, and a really heart-warming conversation between Wanda and Vision post Avengers: Age of Ultron. It was all really well done, so when we see Wanda break into SWORD to find Vision’s body we’re all up for her to do something, but instead she accepts that the body is cold and gone, and leaves, eventually sitting in the empty lot she and Vision had apparently planned to build a house to live in and scream in anguish, her powers going out of control and creating the Hex Sitcom world and even Vision himself from nothing. Agatha mentions how the ability to literally create something out of nothing is like the legendary “Scarlet Witch” (there it is!) as mentioned in the Darkhold book she has (I guess Ghost Rider didn’t do a good job hiding that back in Agents of SHIELD, or something, something “Agents of SHIELD doesn’t count” etc etc) and the two do battle.
Meanwhile Monica had returned to the Hex despite how much of her molecules have already been muddled and meets fake Pietro, and SWORD Director Tyler Hayward (Josh Stamberg) reveals that he has used Vision’s body to create a new sentient weapon that looks like a pure white version of Vision (once again from the comics!). This is where we get to our finale, which pretty much ditches all mystery and side characters and has Wanda and Agatha have a full-on Dragon Ball Z battle in the sky and around town, firing multiple colour blasts at each other and landing through buildings. There is a great moment where Agatha releases everyone from Wanda’s spell and they start pleading with her to let them go, or save their daughter, or to just kill them because it would be better than being under Wanda’s spell, leading to the Scarlet Witch accidently start choking them to death in panic. It shows that no matter how sorry we feel for her, she still did some pretty bad things! Meanwhile the two Visions fight each other until the fake Vision restores the memories of the original Vision to the White Vision (yep…) causing it to fly off. Also during this time Monica shows a small glimmer of her light based powers from the comics as she stares down with Haywood’s gun, before the director is stopped by Darcy.
Wanda embraces the Scarlet Witch powers (including a modern version of the classic outfit!) and defeats Agatha before agreeing to stop the illusion. She tucks her children into bed, knowing they’ll vanish, and then says a tearful goodbye to Vision as she returns to the empty plot of land she started in. We then get double mid/end credit sequences, one of Monica being met by a Skrull who informs her she has allies waiting in space, and another where Wanda is going about her business in a remote shack while a version of her as the Scarlet Witch is reading the Darkhold and looking all spooky, eventually hearing the cries of her imaginary children. I guess Dr. Strange will have to deal with all this!
Genuinely looks like a screenshot from a 90s attempt at an Avengers TV show. Top marks!
I’ll admit the Vision goodbye scene was slightly undercut by the fact we know there’s a White Vision with the original Vision’s memories on Earth still, but hey-ho, it was still well performed and scored. Also the fake Pietro turned out to just be a citizen of Westwood called Ralph Bohner (ugh…) and the fact he looked like the X-Men Universe’s Peter was a coincidence. Or rather the writers wanted us to believe he was something he wasn’t much like Wanda did at that same moment, so it was actually really clever writing… it’s a shame that the plot thread ended with a knob gag…
The only other bad, and again even then it wasn’t that bad at all, was the first two or three episodes, which were only roughly half an hour and were almost entirely black and white sitcoms. Once the sitcoms became more and more weird and the stuff outside the Hex start to get introduced is where the series really kicked off, so these first two especially (which were released together, thankfully!) were a bit of a slog, especially as a British person in his mid-30s I didn’t get the references beyond the very basic tropes on show.
Genuinely looks like… everyone’s going to be in serious trouble!
WandaVision was a triumph, a great mix of humour and mystery that kept you excitedly guessing what things meant and where they were going with friends, family, colleagues, and random people on the internet each week. It’s high budget while at the same time not something that could’ve been done in a film, so I’m already convinced that Disney’s “MCU Disney+ TV series alongside movies” plan is yet another great move for the ever-expanding universe. I can’t recommend WandaVision enough!