After a rather refreshing break (albeit one enforced by the various lockdown states around the world over the last year) Marvel Studios have returned for the next ‘phase’ of their ongoing epic with their first series on Disney+, Wandavision.
Set in the weeks immediately following Avengers: Endgame the story picks up with Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany) apparently living out an idyllic life in, rather bizarrely, a 1950s sitcom.
On the face of it that sentence really doesn’t make a lot of sense and that’s how it felt as a viewer, for the first few episodes at least, which was something of a shock – particularly following the level of hype the series was receiving by the time I started watching.
Despite that those first few episodes, which seem to chart the lead pair’s life in small town America through the medium of sitcoms of different decades, are exceptionally well executed with direct references to the likes of Bewitched and The Dick Van Dyke Show (and later Malcolm In The Middle and others), mixing with the fact that we are dealing with a couple with superpowers, in an exceptionally well balanced, and at points actually funny, fashion.
Across the series both lead actors do a great job taking the parts we’ve seen them play on the big screen and morphing them to match these new situations.
First these performances come with a real sense of comedy, but then, as it goes on, with so much other and deeper emotion than I honestly ever expected as the more familiar world of the MCU runs headlong into the world of Wandavision (it’s really hard to say much more specific without spoilers and even that might be one).
While it wasn’t originally slated to be the first release of Marvel’s Phase Four (The Falcon And The Winter Soldier was seemingly meant to be the far more conventional opening of the new part of the story), Wandavision feels perfect for this as it’s something of a break and a palette cleanser after the massive impact of Endgame.
As it reaches a climax that could very easily feel like many of the other big blockbuster movie finales, the preceding episodes have set it up so it doesn’t feel like that and seems to have much more emotional heft to it than I expected, while also revealing a few things that will likely have a broader knock on in the films and shows to follow.
All that said it does at points also still feel like another episode in the MCU canon which a lot of the praise seems to suggest it transcends, and it’s use of tropes and conventions of the sitcom form and how that clashes with blockbusters is fun but not as groundbreaking or revelatory as some have made out, but Wandavision does remain an enjoyable and compelling watch and I look forward to where the MCU is going next, which I guess is much of the point.