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Tuesday, April 20, 2021
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‘WandaVision’ brings a breath of fresh air to the MCU

Marvel fans excitedly sat down in front of their TV’s in January for the first new MCU project in over a year

<p>After an unplanned hiatus lasting nearly a year and a half, Marvel is back in the game with the release of “WandaVision,” a reality-bending, mind-warping mystery/drama disguised as different sitcoms through the ages.</p>

After an unplanned hiatus lasting nearly a year and a half, Marvel is back in the game with the release of “WandaVision,” a reality-bending, mind-warping mystery/drama disguised as different sitcoms through the ages.

CAUTION: This story has spoilers.

When the new Marvel series “WandaVision” was announced in April 2019, fans were intrigued to learn how the grieving Wanda Maximoff would get her robotic boyfriend back.

However, they did not expect the surreal “Twin Peaks”-esque show to create more questions than answers. 

After an unplanned hiatus lasting nearly a year and a half, Marvel is back in the game with the release of “WandaVision,” a reality-bending, mind-warping mystery disguised as different sitcoms through the ages. The series is the first installment of the MCU’s “Phase Four,” and is releasing weekly on Disney+, with eight of the nine planned episodes having been released as of March 1. The series is directed by Matt Shakman, who has worked on various genres from HBO’s drama “Game of Thrones” to the acclaimed comedy series “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” 

The series deals with the aftermath of “Avengers: Endgame,” specifically how the Avenger, Wanda Maximoff, played by Elizabeth Olsen, reacts to the death of her lover, the android, Vision, played by Paul Bettany. After finding the Vision’s corpse being heartlessly disassembled and dissected on a table by S.W.O.R.D. (an organization within the MCU made to keep an eye on superheroes), she somehow in her grief creates a pocket reality known as “the Hex,” where she and Vision live out their idyllic suburban lives in the fashion of popular American sitcoms in the small town of Westview, New Jersey, with their superpowered twins, Tommy and Billy (played by Jett Klyne and Julian Hilliard respectively). Wanda and Vision struggle to keep their powers a secret, especially from their suspiciously nosy neighbor Agnes (played by Kathryn Hahn), all while dealing with wacky neighborhood antics and unexpected twists along the way.

Shakman’s variety of expertise in directing both comedy and drama leads to fantastic results in this television miniseries. Each episode involving Wanda and Vision parodies a sitcom from the era it is set in (the 1950’s episode parodies “I Love Lucy,” while the 2000’s episode parodies “Modern Family” and “The Office”), which leads to interesting results as the show’s creators attempt to distill a single decade of television into one episode. 

In addition to the series’ behind-the-scenes talent, the actors responsible for “WandaVision” also bring their A-game. Outside of “the Hex” is a small team of characters who are trying to help Wanda and Vision figure out what is happening inside. FBI Agent Jimmy Woo, played by Randall Park and was previously featured in 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp,” teams up with Monica Rambeau, played by Teyonah Parris, an agent of S.W.O.R.D., and scientist Darcy Lewis, played by Kat Dennings, who previously co-starred in the first two “Thor” films.

However, the standouts among the cast of characters are Wanda and Vision themselves. Bettany nails his performance as a confused android who is simply trying to uncover the truth to his current situation. His performance in this show is unlike anything fans have seen from him before, as Vision, a historically calm and intellectual character, becomes increasingly frustrated that he has no way to fix his situation. He even gets into a screaming match at one point with Wanda about how he has no idea what is going on anymore.

But it is Olsen who is truly the star of the show. Her performance rises above even that of the already impressive cast. In each episode, her character keeps viewers questioning whether her motives are malicious, all while establishing her as a caring wife and mother who is grieving her lover’s death in her own way. The eighth episode, in particular, showcases some of Olsen’s best acting, as she gives viewers a glimpse into Wanda’s past.

Is Wanda just another victim of the Hex, or is she in control? How much power does she have in this reality? Does she know how she is affecting the people of Westview? Those questions will be answered in the final episode. 

“WandaVision” should intrigue comic book fans, as it does not seem to take inspiration from a single storyline, unlike many previous entries in the superhero genre.

Instead, the show seems to derive from several stories from the source material, most notably Tom King’s 2015-2016 series “Vision,” which sees Vision and his robotic family trying, unsuccessfully, to live in the modern American suburbs, and the 2005 storyline “House of M,” written by Brian Michael Bendis, in which Wanda rewrites reality, similar to the show. 

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Fans are excited to see how the events of “WandaVision” will pan out in  the larger MCU. Some theorize that this may be how Marvel introduces the X-Men and mutants into the MCU, with Wanda’s powers  possibly creating mutants without her knowledge.  

Others are hoping to see a possible adaptation of the Young Avengers team from the comics, which would take several young superheroes from the Marvel universe, such as Billy and Tommy, and team them up to fight evil, just as their parents before them.

“WandaVision” is not only a love letter to fans of the MCU, but also to fans of TV in general. It takes a postmodern look at the sitcom genre, while still engaging the audience in a mind-warping mystery using the MCU’s intricate lore. Fans are waiting on the edge of their seats for the exciting conclusion to “WandaVision,” whose final episode will air on March 5. 

After a one-week break, the next live-action MCU show, “Falcon and the Winter Soldier,” will be released weekly starting March 19, exclusively on Disney+.

The arts desk can be reached at arts@ubspectrum.com

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