From the opening chords of its TV Land–ready theme song, Disney+’s WandaVision delivers flawless sitcom magic. The 1950s costumes and hairstyling is impeccable, the crinkly audio is adorably nostalgic, and the show’s eponymous characters merge surprisingly well with the genre’s trademark slapstick comedy. If someone with no knowledge of WandaVision’s place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe were to stumble upon this show’s first episode, they could be forgiven for assuming it was a genuine and likable relic of television’s golden age.
It’s not though, and therein lies the problem. WandaVision’s sitcom bona fides are, as fans have guessed since the first trailer dropped, a smokescreen obscuring something sinister lurking underneath Wanda and Vision’s suspiciously idyllic lives. The mystery of WandaVision — why two Marvel heroes, one of which is canonically dead, appear to be acting out the tropes of throwback TV programs — is clearly the point of the show. That promised point is what will feed into the greater MCU and give WandaVision a place within the franchise, but the three episodes provided for review seem more interested in the joys of replicating old shows than providing a compelling reason to watch this new one.
While Disney+’s strategy in dropping the first two episodes of WandaVision on its premiere day is clever, some of the show’s charm has already worn off by the time the credits roll on episode two. Both episodes are short, with the longest clocking in at just over 30 minutes, but they are nearly identical to each other: Wanda and Vision are stock characters in a black and white sitcom for some reason, predictable Bewitched-style hijinks ensue, and the episode ends with a hint that something is rotten in their town of Westview. Those hints don’t build to anything significant by episode three, at which point the need for something, anything to happen is overwhelming.
WandaVision arrives as a bold, experimental anomaly with the unfortunate job of scratching a yearlong MCU itch it was never created to soothe.
Part of the reason WandaVision’s slow detour through television history inspires such impatience is the fact that anyone who has paid attention to the trailers already is aware of to anticipate a giant reveal. Followers have seen clips of Wanda and Imaginative and prescient of their comedian ebook costumes and utilizing their powers on this present; nobody wants three or extra episodes to catch on to the concept that one thing funky is happening right here. Sooner or later, the lovable sitcom plots start to really feel like a gag reward, one the place a giant, fantastically wrapped field accommodates a smaller, equally lovely field and so forth till the enjoyable of unwrapping is usurped by annoyance. It’s been a 12 months, WandaVision, what did you get us?
And talking of that 12 months, it’s possible that the sudden hole and subsequent shuffle of Disney and Marvel’s movie and TV schedule is answerable for a few of WandaVision’s awkwardness. Not solely did the consequences of COVID-19 go away followers of the MCU hanging since 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Dwelling, however it additionally modified the anticipated premiere order of Disney+’s Marvel exhibits. The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, seemingly a more action oriented and historically Marvel-ish present, was meant to premiere months earlier than WandaVision and maybe would have delivered a stronger hit of the candy, candy hero stuff followers have been craving. As a substitute, WandaVision arrives as a daring, experimental anomaly with the unlucky job of scratching a yearlong MCU itch it was by no means created to appease.
There’s little doubt that WandaVision will reveal its secrets and techniques, get to the purpose, and ship what’s anticipated from a mission emblazoned with the MCU’s massive title by the top of the season. In the mean time, its thriller field presentation is a pleasant showcase for Paul Bettany and Elizabeth Olsen’s apparent chemistry and the costume division’s limitless price range. It could be simpler to get pleasure from these issues if the drip-feed of plot did not come at such a leisurely tempo, however it’s not solely WandaVision‘s fault that ready for necessary issues to occur feels particularly irritating today. Just like the classics Wanda and Imaginative and prescient emulate of their bizarro TV world, WandaVision was created for a special time.
WandaVision premieres on Disney+ Jan.15.