TV review: WandaVision (2021)

WandaVision is Marvel Studio’s first swing in the world of television after one of the most epic runs in film history with the first three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and, in my opinion for the time being, should be the only three phases. Sure, you can have one-off movies and shows like this to tie up loose strings and complete the arcs of our beloved characters, but I don’t see how any future Avengers team-up is going to see the same stakes as an Infinity War or Endgame.

Going into this show, I was as giddy as anyone because Elizabeth Olsen’s portrayal of Wanda Maximoff has grown into my favorite character in the entire MCU. I think outside of Thor, Wanda is our most emotionally fleshed-out character. We’ve now seen her go through the pain of her brother Pietro die in Age of Ultron and her lover, Vision, die twice in Infinity War right in front of her.

I’ll be completely transparent and admit that I cried with almost every emotionally-gripping scene in this nine-episode series. Whether it be conversations with her kids about coping with the death of your loved ones or Wanda finally getting the chance to say goodbye to Vision at the S.W.O.R.D. facility, I was in complete pain and despair, and that’s because Marvel has written the characters of Wanda and Vision, and their relationship so well that it hurts a lot when you see them hurting.

The first eight episodes of WandaVision are near perfection. I think the pacing is perfect, the visual storytelling is some of the MCU’s finest and I was incredibly invested in the mystery of what was actually going on.

Through the first couple of episodes, we watch Wanda and Vision live their life in the form of sitcoms. While sitcoms were never my thing, I appreciate the homage to them, especially toward more modern shows like Malcolm In The Middle and Modern Family.

For a studio that is very appealing and surface-level in the casual audience it appeals to, I was blown away by how unique the show was in that first half. I honestly didn’t care to get back into the MCU world because of how good Olsen, Paul Bettany and Kathryn Hahn were in these sitcom homages. When S.W.O.R.D. and the FBI get involved, that’s when we are thrust back into the grand scale of the MCU and it just becomes another MCU action-adventure story.

Those interactions between reality and Wanda’s Westview, New Jersey are only saved by the performances of Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis), Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau) and Randall Park (Agent Jimmy Woo). I’m now wanting an Agent Woo spin-off show after how fun he is in WandaVision.

I was more interested in learning what Wanda’s mental state is. This is an emotionally-complex character who we’ve already seen hurt many people when she can’t get control of her powers. Her altering of reality and control over the minds of hundreds, if not, thousands of people in Westview is a callback to Captain America: Civil War where she launched Brock Rumlow into a building in his attempted suicide bombing, which still killed many innocent civilians.

In this show, she not only physically holds these people hostage, but makes them feel her pain mentally and by the finale, the whole town is rightfully angry at her because they were trapped for so long. There’s even a woman begging for Wanda to let her daughter out of her room. These are people who had normal lives and Wanda let her state of mind affect her decisions with her powers and it is going to take a long-term toll on all the people she held hostage.

By the end of the finale, we get a head-scratching line of dialogue from Monica where she tells Wanda that these people will be grateful for what she’s sacrificed to save them. Well, Monica, this didn’t need to happen in the first place. Wanda didn’t need to put all these people in danger and to have this plot end with Wanda as some sort of savior is completely misguided.

Unless we get an epilogue episode or a movie that ties back to any consequences for Wanda or the rest of the Avengers crew after these events, it’s going to be really disappointing to allow her to get away with this, especially when the government already has the Sokovia Accords enacted. After the events in New York, Washington D.C. and now, Westview unfolded, what other consequences will come about to create greater conflict within the Avengers core or with Wanda? If there’s none, then why have an MCU plot inserted into this show.

Like I said earlier, I would’ve been just fine with this one-off sitcom with Wanda, Vision and their kids living out the rest of their lives in homages to classic shows in one of the MCU’s most grounded and unique entities, but no, you got to appeal to those casuals. Similar to what one of my friends have said, why can’t Wanda be written to have a happy family life? She could’ve gone to the middle of nowhere and created a town of her from scratch, bring back Vision, they have kids and that’s it from Wanda. But nope, the MCU needs a villain to ignite Phase 4…

I don’t hate this show at all, but the finale was definitely a disappointment in how it’s writing. I love Wanda and almost every character in this show because of how well they are portrayed. Wanda finally being introduced as the Scarlet Witch is probably going to be one of my favorite moments in the entire MCU when I look back on it. Her costume is as badass and amazing as any character within the universe and I’m going to love any screen time she gets down the line, but the finale, I think, got it all wrong. It’s such a messy end to an amazing show and it made me take three steps back from my excitement for the MCU’s future in terms of films.

I’m 1,000 words in and haven’t even talked about Evan Peters’ inclusion. Again, another misguided decision to cast an actor who portrays a beloved character in the X-Men universe and play it off as he’s some random dude. It didn’t make any sense and director Matt Shakman’s comments about Ralph Bohner being a reference to Growing Pains doesn’t make it any better. This was a troll job to the highest extent, but I guess I’ll give credit to the fact that Wanda, in a way, got to see her brother interact with her kids.

The first eight episodes are great. However, once this became an MCU-basic story, my enjoyment was just tossed aside. Marvel had something unique and grounded going for it and they tossed it away to set up Phase 4.

WandaVision isn’t bad in any sense, but the finale feels nothing like what we were shown to make the show great. This is why I’m left quite disappointed after viewing the end product.

Rating: 8/10

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