I’ll be the first to admit I am not a huge fan of Marvel movies. My biggest gripe with them is the similarity between each movie. Let me guess – a snarky, sarcastic, punchline dispenser of a superhero faces mediocre adversity and CGI action scenes and eventually beats the bad guy in the end, right? I’ll pass.
You might imagine my surprise, then, when I discovered WandaVision is actually really freaking good. The sit-com spin-off follows superhero duo Wanda and Vision, two characters completely unknown to me before this show. Set in the 50’s and rapidly progressing through time, the show is sprinkled with hints, quirks, and cameos that conveys to viewers that not everything is as it seems. A red and yellow toy lands in a completely black and white world, or a voice on the radio speaks to Wanda directly, and none of the characters seem to know exactly why they are doing anything they do. Not to mention the eerie pseudo-commercials filled with references to the Marvel Universe.
The plots themselves are rather simple, and the jokes throughout the dialog are pretty straightforward, so I don’t blame any action fanatics for finding the show boring. But the deeper mystery has casual viewers like me sitting on the edge of our seats, desperate to piece together the clues and vague pieces of Marvel knowledge to figure out exactly how these characters found themselves in this non-reality scenario.
This show was a risk for Marvel, being so different from anything that they’ve done before. It seems the pandemic has encouraged the studio to turn its attention away from the contrived and duplicated blockbuster movie hits that made it a household name. The real profits can now be found primarily in streamable episodes available on Dinsey+. This format shift allows Marvel writers to explore some more creative paths unavailable to them before. WandaVision is a postmodern blending of genres, rifting off the sitcom much in the same way The Office rifted off the documentary. The effect allows for innovative storytelling, layered jokes with subtle delivery, and an overall expansion of creative ideas that we haven’t been able to see from the studio.
Obviously, dedicated Marvel fans will likely get much more out of this show than a Marvel cynic like myself. There is likely a plethora of references to the movies and comics that go way over my head. But still, there’s something in this show to hook a much wider audience. I, being a history nerd, love the decade themed episodes and in-jokes based on the changing trends in television. I also enjoy the surrealist, gothic quality of the show that pokes through gilded scenes of a happy simple sitcom. Plus, the acting isn’t half bad either.
It will be interesting to see how Marvel advances this format in the future, or if it will return to the copycat action movie tactic when the pandemic subsides. In conclusion, if you’ve been skeptical of this show, I highly recommend you give it a chance. Marvel fan or not, you might be surprised by what catches your interest.